Day 1 of my second week at Best Friends was a little rough. The whole of Southern Utah woke up to about a foot of snow, with even more tumbling out of the sky as big, fat flakes. I, along with most of the other employees, trudged very slowly to the sanctuary to start a cold morning of work. No sooner had I arrived, I was promptly told it was a red snow day and that all non-essential personnel would be sent home. I had time to watch a safety video about rabbits, see the runs, and then I was shooed back into the snow. So I slowly trudged home and went grocery shopping instead. It might be the only long weekend I have ever had that I wasn’t really grateful for. I wanted to be with the animals. Nevertheless, Dragon Age got some much-needed play time.
By the end of the day, it was piled up almost 2 feet in places and lots of vehicles were in the ditch, including a jack knifed semi. Let’s just thank the mule deer that I got back to the house safely. By the way, it’s still gorgeous out here in the canyon, with snow lingering on the red dirt and hanging from the red rocks…maybe a photo later in the week.
Day 2, I showed back up and was finally able to work with some bunnies! Well, I was able to work around them, as bunnies are not so helpful (about as helpful as cats, and probably most animals) in the cleaning department. Working with any animal requires a lot of cleaning, a lot of patience, a lot of self-forgiveness – you will NOT get all the poop, you just won’t – a lot more cleaning, and some treat time. I didn’t get many photos on day 2, but today I got a whole bunch because my job was to supervise a bonding, and they did so well that I had time to observe the other bunnies.
What is bonding? With rabbits, they prefer being with a buddy, or companion, rather than living alone. They are just happier when they can share their life with another bunny that has the same ideals and goals and loves cilantro the same amount. Also they are great at grooming each other in those hard-to-reach places, so there’s a big health benefit there. Rabbits are fiercely territorial and will fight to the death (by biting each other’s genitals) if they aren’t familiarized. Basically, the rabbits are slowly introduced to each other every day in small increments until they can tolerate each other safely without micromanagement. This can take anywhere from 1-6 weeks, starting at 20 minutes together and leading up to 4 hours or more a day, depending on their temperaments. Today was day 21 of the bonding experience between Teddy and Courtney, both females. Yesterday, they were together for 40 minutes before Courtney started pulling fur out of Teddy and they had to be separated. Today, I watched them for two and a half hours with minimal aggression (some thumping of the feet and one or two chase scenes, but no guns were drawn and no cars were wrecked) and they were only separated because it was the end of the day. Success! Here’s Teddy, a very overweight bun with great markings who loves grooming Courtney even though she picks on her:
Teddy’s profile: http://goo.gl/DRdU0b
I didn’t really get to hang out with the rest of the rabbits, but I kind of tried to watch them during the afternoon to see how they behaved. They’re all really cute, but they are pretty independent and don’t crave human interaction, unless you’re feeding them.
Above is Lyle, he lives with the adorable Netherland dwarf pictured below. It’s tough being roomies with someone so miniature, but Lyle handles it pretty well by being outgoing and quick. Lyle really likes romaine, but only the soft part of the leaf, not the hard stem. His head is a little blurry in this photo because rabbits move fast and randomly.
Lyle’s Profile: http://goo.gl/Gg0btP
Charlie is a Netherland dwarf (thanks, Jade!) with an attitude. He knows how cute he is, and flashes his baby blues every chance he gets. He forms this fantastic little green moustache after eating his favorite treat – cilantro – which is what he’s chomping on in the photo above, and I’ve been told that if he eats raspberries, he sports a lovely grin full of lipstick!
Charlie’s profile: http://goo.gl/Bb3uP9
And this is Conley. I’m hoping to learn more about him tomorrow, but I did notice that when he moves, he drags his hips and rear legs around, rather than hopping – which I assume is from a back injury, arthritis, or something related to old age. He was slightly shy and would pull himself into his hide box when he was frightened, but I managed to sneak a video of him nomming on some delicious romaine. Something about the sound of a bunny chewing is reminiscent of a cat purring, and is actually quite relaxing to me. Maybe I am a rabbit person, after all.
Conley’s profile: http://goo.gl/qSEKh5