What's to Become of a Lonely Bun Who's Lost His Mate?
by Jan Perryman
(Isle of Wight, United Kingdom)
Bracken Needs a Friend
My story started with my two wonderful Lionhead rabbits that I got last May
(2014). They had been together from kits and were a beautifully bonded pair.
At just over a year old, and even despite the sexual maturity hormones kicking
in, they were still very close and inseparable.
They were enjoying life and enjoying the adventure playground I had just finished
building them. (As seen in the photo). They were both loving the climbing,
hiding and foraging for food. Life was good!
Then devastation struck. And it struck twice!
One of my gorgeous Labs was diagnosed with cancer. Still reeling with shock
from the news, and just before we were due to collect my dog, we discovered
Rosie, my Lionhead doe, in an obvious very serious state. We took her to the
vets but they couldn't do anything. She died the same day.
I am obsessive about my rabbits having a clean living environment and a good
diet. I was confused as to what had happened. The vet said that her food had
been blocked and stopped passing through her gut.
Then I started to worry about the male that was left behind. Charlie and Rosie
had been together since they were a few weeks old and they were extremely close
to each other. It was clear that Charlie was very upset.
He was completely lost. He wasn't eating the same quantity of hay and he wasn't
interested in his treats! He was almost completely inactive. I really thought
I was going to lose him too.
I couldn't believe it. I was devastated.
I knew something had to be done.
Bunnies love to be loved. So I stepped up the love!
I gave him a lovely bunny massage while I groomed him. I made a point of doing
this more often too. He would close his eyes blissfully when I reached the back
of his neck. He loved it.
But I also knew that I was no substitute for another bunny so I bought a 6
week old female rabbit that I called Bracken, (Charlie has been neutered) and
hoped they would bond.
And so started my bonding routine.
I made a temporary run in the corner of our conservatory and put a grill partition
in so they could see each other. They initially sniffed and watched each other
and I spent a lot of time watching them.
At night I put them in separate hutches. I repeated this for 2 days then moved
the partition slightly to see if one of them would go in to the other's half.
I put a tunnel in so one could retreat if they felt the need.
Bracken made the first move and Charlie didn't seem to mind! Then Charlie got
a bit frisky so I separated them again.
The next day I moved the partition altogether and put in some greens. Charlie
started to eat first which was wonderful. Bracken stayed close to him and started
eating happily too. They also lay contentedly next to each other. This was a
That night I tried them in the large hutch together but straight away Charlie
started chasing Bracken and she was obviously distressed so I took her out and
put her back in her own hutch.
The next day they shared the run happily again. Then I took the litter tray
out of the main hutch and thoroughly cleaned the scent markings Charlie had
made neutralising the main hutch completely and then I put the grill partition
down in the centre leaving a gap with just a grill partition either side.
All passed quietly. I did this for 2 nights.
The following day they spent in the outside run, again with places to escape
to. Bracken was exploring straight away and eating then Charlie started to explore
and climb on and off the steps I'd made and eating the hay. He seemed his old
self again. I could have cried with relief!
That night I removed the partition from the hutch and put them in together
and put in the familiar pellet food I gave them at night.
I waited and watched closely. Ready to rescue her if necessary!
Charlie chased her but not as frantically as before and then he stopped. Bracken
went to the food first then he followed and they ate cheek to cheek!
And that's how it happened! Now they are inseparable.
It was an anxious time at first and I wondered if they would bond at all or
whether I would be left with two lonely bunnies living in two separate hutches.
But it was worth all the effort and patience and I think these photos say it
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