Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rabbit Update

Lots of news in Rabbit World lately.

To start with, Zeela mysteriously passed away last summer. She suddenly stopped eating and hopping around, and would just hide in her box. Took her to the vet, but she checked out just fine. But she only hung on for a few more days. I figured she got injured in some way, although the vet did check for broken bones, etc. Very strange – we only had her for a couple months, at the most.

Zeela pretty much ignored all foods that most rabbits consider irresistible treats; bananas, fig bits, apple cores, weeds. But she could pack away the plain old rabbit pellets. So we buried her with a cup of pellets.

Poor old Skippy had to spend the summer in bachelor mode. But we knew we should eventually get him a roommate. Once the weather was a bit cooler, and work schedules allowed, Betsy and I headed back over to the Mecklenburg Animal Control to look for a suitable mate. They had quite a few rabbits last week, 10 or so. One stood out as being quite alert and cautiously curious, a potential high-energy companion to wild and crazy Skippy. We didn’t think a quiet, timid, sit-there-like-a-lump bunny would be a good match for him! So we took her home. This one happened to look just like Zeela – that mixed brown/black/white marking typical of wild rabbits. So much so that we’re calling her Zeela the Second, or Z2 for short.

Z2, with Skippy up on his box, both behaving peacefully for the moment.

Zeela the Second, or Z2 for short.


Now, there are four things that can happen when two rabbits first meet:

  1. Love at first sight. Despite the reputation for romance and reproduction, this is actually rare.
  2. They ignore each other. This is good – they are checking each other out, trying to figure out if they can trust each other. Kind of like a first date.
  3. They chase each other around. This is also good. At least one of them has established some trust, and they’ve gone straight into trying to establish the pecking order. Who is going to be the alpha rabbit?
  4. They try to kill each other.

Unfortunately, what happened with Z2 and Skippy was Number Four. It took two seconds for them to get into an all out, no-holds-barred bunny brawl. Rabbits doing somersaults on the deck. Fur literally flying everywhere. Betsy swooped in and nabbed a random rabbit. Jeez. Getting these two bonded is going to take some serious work!

I put a wire fence down the middle of the hutch, so they could see and smell each other, but couldn’t physically get at each other. This was only partially successful, at best. They would occasionally battle through the fence. And Skippy, who NEVER poops or urinates outside a litter box, started making a mess all over the place. And both of them eventually found a way to defeat the fence (they kind they sell as “rabbit fence” at the hardware store). One night, arriving home from work, they were found on OPPOSITE sides of the fence, acting innocent and calm, like nothing unusual had happened.

That was it. The rabbit gauntlet was thrown down. It was time to escalate this game. And since I was out of town for the week, it was up to Betsy.

We had read that one way to kick off a serious rabbit bonding project is to put the pair of rabbits through a stressful situation together . That way they get to experience some time panicking together – NOT fighting together. A car ride is said to work. Betsy took Z2 and plonked her onto the top of the clothes washer. This is a nervous place for a bun to start with – a smooth, slippery surface kind of high in the air. Then she went and got Skippy, put him up there, and started a load of clothes. Rumble, rumble, vibrate, vibrate. A car ride simulator! Now, do these two look like they’re brawling? NO!
Terrorized, but NOT fighting, rabbits on the clothes dryer.


After the wash cycle, she took them up to the bonus room, which was emptied out because we were painting at the time. True neutral territory. They hopped around exploring, did some friendly chasing (Z2 is indeed quick, and easily eluded Skippy), and eventually laid down for a rest in opposite corners of the room. Success! The process was repeated the following night, only on the dryer. Eventually I took down the barrier in the hutch, and they have been buddies ever since. Sounds like the title of a bad self-help book, “Go From Mortal Enemies to Soulmates in One Week”.

Skippy has been inspiring Z2 to learn the local rabbitly customs: jumping up on chairs, burning laps around the deck, snarfing up banana bits, exploring every last square centimeter of available space, probing for security leaks.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Been a while...

Jeez, it's been ages since the last BlichBlog installment. A lot has been happening. Watch this space in the next week or so for:

- Rabbit news

- Yard and garden reports

- Employment updates

- Home improvement projects that were met with various degrees of success.

Let's start with the kiwi report. Here's our entire kiwi harvest for the year. Keep in mind that these plants are maybe 25 feet long by 15 feet high. Not a very impressive yield, if you ask me. But hey - it was essentially another drought year down here...