12th September 00:59
About 5 years ago, I had two cats. Both farm cats, both big on catching the
local wild rabbit population (which was massive). They used to sit near to a
warren entrance in my garden, wait for the adults to come out and then
pounce. I lost track of thenumber of partially and fully eaten corpses I
found in various places around the farmhouse. After a while, the kittens
would come out of the warren, obviously not having been fed due to the
absence of parents. The cats would be waiting for them and it was a
I have always loved rabbits (although as a child, the only ones we had didnt
live long, a result of keeping them in "hutches" I think) but I was in two
minds whether to do something because the cats werent catching the rabbits
to play with, they were eating the rabbits (when not caught, the cats would
eat almost every part of the rabbit) in addition to the food we were giving
them, but I couldnt not do anything.
I basically stalked the cats while they stalked the warren entrance, saving
a number of wild baby rabbits from the cats over a period of time.
Eventually, the cats decided that this game earned them no rewards and wasnt
fun anymore. I think it was at this point that one of them started to bring
I had no prior knowledge of raising young rabbits, so it was a very sharp
learning curve. For the benefit of those who would like to know what to do
when they find themselves with a wild baby rabbit, or those who have found
themselves in that position but didnt succeed or those who are just
Most of the kittens I dealt with were around 3-4 weeks old.
A very switched-on Vet researched the breakdown of rabbit milk and found the
closest readily available match...surprisingly enough, it turns out to be
He was also (kind?) enough to sell me a wildlife rearing kit. A basic kit is
available for about £10. A comprehensive kit costs £37.50 and includes 2
bottles, a range of teets, hypodermic syringes an various other items.
At 6 weeks, I was beginning the weaning process (which if led by the kitten,
is quite quick) from milk to solids.
I learned from experience that leaning a baby rabbit backwards to bottle
feed it is a bad move. They can rotate their heads almost 180 degrees, so
its far better to bring thebottle down to the mouth are and let them feed
their way. When you get it right, boy do they feed! In the space of a week,
all but one doubled in size. How often you feed them is largely down to
demand. But every 2-4 hours worked for us and they thrived.
Feeding wild rabbits on anything but grass is almost always fatal. Digestive
problems in a rabbit will turn very nasty, very quickly.
Ive found that wild rabbits have a much more rugged constitution than their
domestic counterparts provided they are ONLY fed grass.Most people have a
very human need to reward their pet. In the case of wild rabbits, this urge
needs to be curbed. The kindest thing to do is give the animal what it
needs, not what you WANT to give it. For the most part, I adopt the same
strategy with my domestic rabbits, but they do get a fair amount of treats,
primarily becuase they demand them. one of Bens traits is that if he hears
me switch the kettle on, he will come and sit at my feet in the kitchen
while I make a cup of tea, safe in the knowledge that I'll pour some into
his bowl (we dont use feeders for the rabbits, they get dog bowls the same
as the dogs) and he adores tea!
The wild kittens adapted vey well to being house rabbits. Despite the cats
having killed off their parents, the kittens played with the cats and made
excellent cousins to the cats litter of kittens.
The wild kittens developed into rabbits very quickly and we made sure that
they had the run of the house from day one. Confining animals like these in
a house is tough enough for them, putting them in cages or hutches is an
additional (and unnecessary; if you've taken the time and trouble to keep it
alive, its up to you to make the adjustments, not the rabbit) cruelty.
Playful is one word to describe their behaviour. A nightly ritual ensued,
whereby the rabbits (all displaying the same behaviour patterns) would
scrabble up onto the bed, come and snif my face, occasionally lick it, run
the edge of the bed, scrabble down off the bed onto the floor
(scrabble-scrabble-thump), run around the house at high speed dow to where
the cats slept, tease them, run round (often with the cats and kittens
chasing them), up the stairs and onto the bed to repeat the sniffing,
licking and generally checking to make sure I was there.
I would often wake up to a face-licking or sniffing and look down to see the
cats and their kittens sitting in the bedroom doorway, slightly pissed off
that the rabbit/rabbits had gotten away.
When all 4 of the bunnies played the game at the same time, the noise was
I did a lot of research to make sure I was doing the right thing by the
rabbits and I noticed that some of the things published arent always
correct. Now that I have domestic rabbits too, this belief is reinforced.
1) Rabbits dont always flick pee at you as "the ultimate insult" which some
believe is the case. This is especially true in younger rabbits and kittens
who may do this if they get over-excited or even as a kind of daring game.
Evidence in suport of this includes my youngest rabbit (Ben) who is 5 months
old and flicks pee all the time, left right and centre, often while hes
playing and even when hes tooth-purring. One of the wild kittens was in the
habit of pee-flicking, often as a pre-cursor to approaching you for a
grooming. In fact, I have only witnesed a pee-flick in anger, once.
2) Two males can in fact live together fine. 3 of the wild kittens were
male. They did not fight amongst themselves once. Its worked just as well
for domestic rabbits. Perhaps its in the approach, because we had separate
dog beds for each of the rabbits from day one (although from time to time,
they would all snuggle up together in the same basket). Giving them the
freedom to roam i think made the world of difference.
3) Nail biting solution works great on electrical wires. Ive watched them
sniffing out new things to chew and they appear to always lick the item
first. I would rather eat one of my own socks than lick nail biting
solution. Its foul stuff, very bitter with a long-lasting aftertaste. The
rabbits appear to agree (which is presumably why I have numerous half-eaten
socks plaguing my underwear drawer...)
4) The rabbit dance really works. Walking around in circles in front of even
a strange rabbit has them following you around or even running ahead of you
eventually until he/she lies down for the gromming part of the game.
I currently have 7 rescue dogs ranging from a 9 year old golden retriever to
2 x 5 month old german shepherds, 4 rabbits, a rat and a cat. I was very
nervous about introducing the rabbits to the dogs, but it has been a
painless process. The most important thing is to recognise when the rabbit
is feeling uncomfortable and give it reassurance (through soothing words -
the tone matters, the words dont - and grooming).
The rabbits have beds in my office, but are free to roam the house. The only
room that they arent allowed in is the master bedroom as they developed a
fun game of eating what remains of my hair whilst I was asleep. Very amusing
for them, not so for me, although I do admit that I miss them playing on the
bedcovers and waking me up at 3am for a cuddle.
Ben (the youngest) is the most loyal, loving creature you could meet. He
follows me wherever I go, plays numerous pranks on the dogs and is a real
He handles himself well with the dogs, facing them down and even swiping at
their noses with his paws if they get too excited.
Can you imagine the sight of a german shepherd being chased by a rabbit? Or
a rabbit jumping up and down on a golden retriever to wake it up to play?
Its enough to make you laugh whatever sort of day you've had!
Something that Im hoping to achieve in the near future is to build a kind of
rabbit-house. I already have one box with a an opening for a door and some
large bore piping. Im hoping to add another "room", joined to the first by
the pipe and a ramp leading from the floor to the roof of the "rooms". none
of the rabbits really like hiding away for long periods, but they do like to
find little hidey-holes when they're playing.
Has anyone else built something similar? If so, would you mind showing me
pictures for some ideas?
12th September 06:44
I really enjoyed the stories about your bunnies, especially the wild
kittens which adapted to being house rabbits. I adopted a wild bunny
who couldn't be returned to the wild and she has free roam of my house
too. My rabbit loves to jump up on the bed, give some kisses, dance
around, and then jump down. Do the wild bunnies get along with your
domestic rabbit well? I've been thinking about adopting a domestic
bunny and wasn't sure if the two would be able to get along (my wild
one is a run of the mill cottontail).
What kind of tea do your bunnies like?! My rabbit eats several cups of
baby romaine lettuce, carrots, and a few cranberries each day and she
loves her timothy hay and Oxbow timothy pellets.
I've also toyed with the idea of building some kind of bunny house.
I've constructed some rudimentary structures wtih cardboard boxes, but
those always get condemned due to Sedgewick's need to build new
entrances (and gnaw the roof off)! I would also like to hear anyone's
ideas for bunny play houses.
Thanks for sharing your bunny experiences - it was a treat to read!
12th September 12:37
I'm planning on building a bunny hutch for my two, still in the blueprint
stage, but I think a two storey house with hinges won't be too shabby! The
only problem for me is the kind of wood to use... obviously cna't use
treated pine, so can anyone suggest a good wood which can stand up to
bunnies AND the weather? I know, a combo of the two is going to be hard!