How we made our awesome rabbit village

Rabbit run bunny run rabbit hutch
A long view of the rabbit run.

We took over about 1/3 of our garden (the third with the lawn in) and turned it into a little bunny village that could originally hold all 6 of our rabbits (when we actually had 6 rabbits), it was designed to be a self-contained play and living area for them because we didn’t want them getting cooped up in unfamiliar hutches while we went on our holiday driving around Europe in summer 2014.  This way, all our designated rabbit feeders had to do was feed them, the rabbits had toys, companionship with other groups (they were three pairs) and lots of room to exercise.   The third hutch was at the back of the run but we threw it out (actually it’s still partly standing on the concrete, wood is always useful) when Fifer got Katie because she was too big to share his first hutch.

When we came back from Europe, we moved the 2 rabbits from the shed back into the house (Banacek and Cleo) and bought Fifer and Katie a new deluxe 2 storey hutch that was 5 foot wide and 18 inches deep, Katie adored it.  We took the downstairs hutch doors off so they could have 24/7 indoor-outdoor access, which all the rabbits were used to by this point, and we’d already removed a couple of bricks so rabbits could get from the brick shed into the main run.  The floor of the shed I covered in straw so it was basically an extension of their rabbit hutch.  At this point, the rabbit run was still sectioned into three parts and Banacek and Cleo had the back of the run now when they wanted to play outside, which was slightly awkward for carrying them because Banacek never got used to being handled.

Rabbit run bunny run rabbit hutch
We removed a couple of bricks from the shed so Fifer and Katie could go in when it rained and play out when it wasn’t raining.

When Neville died, leaving Sebastian behind, about 18 months ago, I thought it was best to let Sebastian live out his days in the hutch we got him in, since he was very small (Netherland Dwarf) had a whole shed to himself (the wooden one) and a garden, and I wanted him to have continuity.  Unfortunately, about three months ago with the really shitty weather we’ve had, the bottom of his hutch started to go rotten.  I ripped the whole thing out one afternoon and redesigned a second hutch – the spare one we’d kept in the kitchen, that was going to be Banacek and Cleo’s outdoor hutch until Banacek died – and gave that to Sebastian.  It’s the exact same hutch that Fifer and Katie (and now, Fifer and Poppy, who live part-time in the house because Poppy likes being inside but Fifer doesn’t like being an indoor bun) have in their shed, with a few slight differences because this hutch was a £30 fixer upper and the other was in pristine condition for nearly £100 (with discount vouchers). More info on how to design an inspirational rabbit hutch

Rabbit run bunny run rabbit hutch
Sebastian’s hutch inside his shed.
Rabbit run bunny run rabbit hutch keep warm
Sebastian lives alone so I like to make sure he stays warm.  It pulls down when it’s cold.

These links have more info on keeping bunnies warm in winter and cool in summer

The most important thing to talk about is the type of fencing to use, to make sure the rabbits really can have 24/7 indoor/outdoor access.  You need a fencing that is really rabbitproof (insert joke about Australia’s rabbitproof fence here).  We used different types of fencing in different areas to make the most rabbitproof run without having to spend 100 years making it:

Rabbit run bunny run rabbit hutch rabbit proof garden
Around the wooden fence, I nailed up some chickenwire over the first 18 inches so the rabbits can’t burrow out.

Apart from where it’s against a fence, the chickenwire starts at 4 feet high because rabbits WILL chew through chickenwire, even the coated green stuff.  The chicken wire replaced that awful lurid green stuff that was made of plastic that my husband bought, and which has been an eyesore for 18 months.  Don’t use chicken wire anywhere that a rabbit’s mouth can reach unless there’s something behind it, and AVOID that stupid plastic stuff at all costs, I was against it from the moment I saw it, and when we were removing it, Poppy came out to explore, got tangled in it before we could stop her, and she nearly died. £600 of vet bills later she’s ok but it was the most harrowing experience.

Rabbit run bunny run rabbit hutch wire fencing rabbitproof rabbit proof
This wire goes at the very bottom.

At the very bottom of the rabbit run we have put this thick and relatively inflexible metal the squares are about 1.5cm wide each, so rabbits can’t get their noses through.

rabbit run4

A little bit higher, we never had a problem with the green squares until we got Poppy.  She’s a gorgeous Dutch bunny with a slightly more petite bone structure than our other rabbits, and being a bright young thing she will leap up and climb through these two levels of squares so I had to wrap this green wire diagonally to stop her getting out.  I wouldn’t mind but it takes her too long to get back in because her bum gets stuck, and if a cat was in the greater garden it could very quickly eat her.

Rabbit run bunny run rabbit hutch wire fencing rabbitproof rabbit proof
The silver low fence keeps Fifer and Poppy out of Sebastian’s territory. I did find Katie in there once (when it was Fifer and Katie), but her temperament was so nice that she just snuggled up with Sebastian, so we never saw an issue with Katie having two male partners.
Rabbit run bunny run rabbit hutch wire fencing rabbitproof rabbit proof
Sebastian’s run – that little wooden thing was his original run (from his previous owners) and when we got him we found he likes sitting in it sometimes, I think he feels more secure in there. It’s good for attaching his water bottle to (left hand side, just after that open shed door).
Rabbit run bunny run rabbit hutch wire fencing rabbitproof rabbit proof
And that’s Sebastian’s entrance/exit between his shed and his run, it’s in his old rabbit run because he likes his little porch!
Rabbit run bunny run rabbit hutch wire fencing rabbitproof rabbit proof garden toys
One of Fifer and Poppy’s garden toys. Poppy loves running up and down in the holes like a cat, Fifer loves chewing it.

Toys are important to me for the bunnies, as important as grass I can’t stand the idea that they ever might be bored in their bunny village, so I like to give them as many things to do as will fit.  I did make a little climbing frame for them but we had to take it apart when I replaced some of the fence panels earlier this year, so the components (such as this ladder) are still around.

Rabbit run bunny run rabbit hutch wire fencing rabbitproof rabbit proof garden toys
Another outdoor bunny toy. Rabbits like things they can eat, chew, rub their chins on, sniff at, lick, scratch, dig, run around and sit on.

And the most important thing in our giant rabbit enclosure is to make sure they can’t escape, because there are a lot of neighborhood cats and there are local foxes who have shat in our greater garden (bag it using 2 sandwich bags so you don’t touch it, clean the area with neat jeyes fluid, rinse with boiling water) so we know they are aware of our rabbits.  So we fasten the door (an old garage side door we got on Freecycle) with a lock and a piece of wire.   Before we used the wire, the vicious northern winds had been known to blow it open which can be very dangerous at night.  I do let Fifer and Poppy out into the wider garden regularly (Sebastian doesn’t like going out of his run) they eat all my weeds it’s amazing.

Rabbit run bunny run rabbit hutch wire fencing rabbitproof rabbit proof
The locking arrangement, from before we replaced all that lurid green plastic stuff.
Rabbit run bunny run rabbit hutch wire fencing rabbitproof rabbit proof
View from the back of the run towards the house.

So that’s our bunny village, currently housing Fifer, Poppy and Sebastian!  What do you think?  Have you made anything similar for your rabbits?

If you haven’t already, check out my other rabbit care articles
 

RIP Banacek: Rabbit, person, and our dearest companion.

Sunday was Banacek’s funeral. We buried him in a cardboard rabbit carrier, with his favourite toys; the chewy hemp carrot, the chewy sticks, his first cuddly rabbit (stuffy), as well as his drinking bowl. We rested him on a piece cut from his favourite blue carpet out of his bedroom, then we tucked him in with his favourite towel, the one he kept pulling under him after he got neutered.  We read him the story of Snuggle Bunny, our rabbit book puppet with the adorable bedtime story (hey, I don’t judge YOUR insomnia tactics).  The book still has a little nibble out of the spine from the time Banacek “investigated” it.
We dug a big hole and gently laid him in it, then covered him over with soil, it was absolutely pouring it down with rain and we fenced it off with rabbit run panels so he doesn’t get dug up by foxes. He’s next to Katie and Neville.
The cynical part of my brain observes that there is literally no room left for vegetables in the garden.  I was going to put in a picture of him in his little box, but WordPress crashed when I tried to upload the picture (why didn’t they put an “add pictures” button in the ‘New Posting Experience FFS), and I had to restart the whole internet to restore this backup, so I’m going to leave it with what’s already in this post.

 

Banacek bunny
Sleep well, little rabbit.  A picture from brighter times.

 

Banacek bunny cute soft
The house just isn’t the same without you.

It’s been colder in the house since he died, and we all keep expecting him to run up and down the stairs, to hop into the living room and investigate the food situation, or to try  to get into the bathroom or kitchen.  The house just feels so big and empty now.  It’s like the colour has just disappeared out of the whole house, and everything is much greyer and duller than it was before.

As the days have gone on, we have realized that we’d built our whole life around Banacek; everything from how we organize our day to the furniture in the house, the fact that we redecorated the living room with adhesive tiles to stop him chewing the first two feet of wallpaper, the stairgate-type barriers in the doorways of our bedroom and the bathroom, to stop him getting into danger.  He had his own bedroom in the house, a room which was predominantly his giant 6′ by 6′ rabbit hutch, and his upstairs toys scattered around.  Every corner of the house has a sawdust litter tray so he didn’t have to get caught short, and our Hoover is the special pet one to pick up his fur from the carpet.  The kitchen is full of a variety of dry rabbit foods, toys and accoutrements that were in rotation so he never got bored, since he didn’t have an outdoor run any more (Fifer kind of stole it), and we specifically chose and modified our furniture and electricals to make a safe, accessible and stimulating environment for him.  We only got Cleo to be his friend because he was getting lonely, and we worried that we’d have to cope with his grief when she died of old age, since she’s 11 and he was only 3.  Before we adopted Cleo, we used to take Banacek on bunny playdates with other houserabbit owners so he could socialize with members of his own species.

Nobody really gets this, but this is definitely harder for both of us than losing the baby.  I think the reaction from other people, that “meh, it was just a rabbit” response, has made it so much worse, because it’s made us realize Banacek’s profound impact and amazing presence didn’t really extend past our house.  Banacek was so central to our life that not having him here to greet us, wait for us, harass us for things he doesn’t need, to give us affection, to focus our attention on, to adore and lavish with love and snuggles…  All our little every-day rituals, all the songs we’d changed the words to so Banacek was the focal point, all the tiny bunny crockery for his different nibbles… He was interested in literally everything we did, and everything that he did was naturally awesome.  I even started this blog so I could share the delight of Banacek with the world.  And everyone who came to the house was always so taken with him; how can people be so fickle and heartless about such a wonderful bunny?

The house just feels empty.  My soul feels empty.  Everyone in the house feels the same right now.  My Dearest explained it best this morning, when he said “I keep putting the central heating on, but I feel so cold on the inside.”  The house is a balmy 16 degrees right now and I’m huddled under a blanket in my dressing gown, and I’m still freezing.

Banacek was the life and soul of the party.  And now the party’s left, and we’ve just got a big empty venue to clean up, and that one sick girl to look after who drank too much.

How do you find meaning and purpose when you had it, you were happy with it, and it got taken away from you?

Now he’s gone, I’m coming up with nothing.

We’ve lost our best friend, our confidante, and our baby bunny all in one.   Banacek was our world.  If you think that’s hyperbolic you just didn’t know how amazing Banacek was.

I promise my next post will be something upbeat, but today I needed to tell the world about how important Banacek was.

Banacek bunny died at 8am 2nd Jan 2016

Very sad times; we are struggling to even comprehend how this happened.  Cleo is doing her best to make sure he gets a good send-off, we will have his funeral tomorrow in the garden unless it’s too flooded.  This is pretty much all I have to say about it:

Happy New Year: Greenland Style

So we missed British New Year as we were syringe-feeding liquid hay into a sick rabbit who subsequently exploded foul smelling diarrhea all over me. I did earlier this evening’s post about how ill Banacek bunny is. Dear Chocolate, it just never ends.

My dressing gown is in the washing machine now along with Banacek’s snuggly bunny bed (I know he’s ill because before he shat in it, he was actually sitting in it, and he usually chews it and sits somewhere else).
At midnight I was feeling very despondent about how last year’s shit was carrying over.

I am SURE 2015 was a terrible year because my sister refused to bury my mother until JANUARY (she died in November, we were informed in December).

You’ve got to draw a line and let it all go.

So we decided, it’s midnight somewhere, right? So at 1am we did a countdown (courtesy of Netflix) and celebrated New Year with the town of Ittoqqortoormiit on the East Coast of Greenland. I went for 5HTP (as a non-drowsy pick-me-up although I hear amateurs use this for help to get to sleep) and a glass of Sambucca, my Dearest went for Bailey’s.

We are considering celebrating again at 10am local time when it’s officially Midnight in Hawaii and Tahiti, the last places on the international date line to reach the New Year.

Just to be sure.

So the lesson here is that if you miss midnight, don’t panic, you’ve got until Hawaii changes their calendar to get your New Year on.

BTW, Banacek is still very ill. We might be up all night with him. He’s going back to the vets tomorrow if he doesn’t pick up.

UPDATE 3:06AM LOCAL TIME: We have now also celebrated New Year in Rio De Janeiro (at 2am local time) and Santiago Chile (at 3am local time). At my dearest’s request, I found out how to say white rabbits in Portuguese (coelhos brancos) and Spanish (conejos blancos). If you don’t know what the white rabbits thing is, in the UK, it’s a superstition that on the 1st of the month the first words you say should be “white rabbits” (then make a wish). So it’s extra important on 1st January.

UPDATE: 4:02am LOCAL TIME: HAPPY NEW YEAR IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AND HALIFAX, CANADA. I down’d more sambucca and am about to get covered in more rabbit regurgitation. He’s still breathing which is all we can hope for right now.