Thursday, September 08, 2005

Getting a bunny!

Either that or a rabbit.

Outside my office is a section of plants to inject some vibrant green into this concrete techno-city. Every once in a while I'd spot a brown object dart from view when I passed on the walkway. I suspected a more annoying animal and was suprised to see that our "garden" was home to a few brown bunnies (less than a year old). One of the high-points of my day became catching fleeting glimpses of these elusive lagomorphs.I became more interested in them, and did some research. What? We don't watch TV! I found that there were a lot of people who thought that rabbits made good house-pets.

I would be more than interested in a pet, but our apartment complex only allows house cats, and I wasn't too keen on keeping a cat inside. I love cats, but given our relatively small living quarters, I found the idea of a litter box a problem. I began to read more about rabbit care and expressed slight interest in getting a rabbit. The more I read the more I was attracted to the idea of caring for a house rabbit. They can be litter trained, and once spayed or neutered, can be rid of most habits that uneducated rabbit owners find less than endearing. They can learn their name, and are rather intelligent. Something I especially liked about the information provided on the website is that it let you know how to allow the rabbit to do what they naturally want to do. Rabbits have a natural inclination to dig, chew, and play. Failing to provide outlets for these actions will cause your rabbit to become unhappy, and act out (dig up the carpet, chew up something important, or play with something they're not supposed to). "A bored rabbit it a naughty rabbit!" as stated on the website. The reason this problem isn't such a problem with dogs/cats is because they can be better trained to suspend those scratching/digging/playing urges. This is good and bad. Because to me, there's nothing sadder than a pet that's been trained not to do the things it enjoys. The rabbit probably cannot be trained to stop doing what it likes entirely, but since it's a smaller animal, you can make special allowances to contain the "distruction". Providing chew sticks or something interesting to chew on will keep the rabbit from chewing up your baseboards. If a rabbit likes to dig a certain area/corner you can put a small stack of cardboard or newspaper there and the rabbit will happily dig on those surfaces instead of your carpet. Accidents can be cleaned up with white vinegar, and pellets are easily vacuumed/swept up, but if the rabbit prefers to "go" in a certain area, provide them with another litter box nearby or on that spot. Meet you pet half way, don't force your will on the poor thing.

One thing that particularly interested me was their innate apprehension for other creatures (especially bigger ones). They are prey animals and should therefore be afraid of unknown things. I was particularly interested in the stories of owners achieving a comfort and trust level with thier rabbit that is usually simply the norm with other pets. I wished I could build this kind of trust in a naturally fearful (albeit cuddly) animal.

After talking about it for a long time we started looking into the logistics and everything seemed to fall into place from there.

We located a semi-local animal shelter and visited (which was heartbreaking, by the way). When we were approaching the rabbit area, they had a "bunny run" set up outside. Fenced off areas where the rabbits can get out of their cages and get some air and excersise. When we passed, we saw one of the workers chasing after a rabbit calling, "come here Eva... come on." We looked at eachother and smiled because we've been working our way through the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series. If you like anime, and you've never seen the entire series (including "The End of Evangelion" replacement movie for the last two episodes) I've put together four easy steps to remedy the problem:

1. find the nearest mirror
2. take a long, hard look at what you call an "anime fan"
3. slap yourself
4. repeat

Anyways, the series is lovingly referred to as "Eva" so hearing the rabbit's name caught our attention for a short while. When we got inside we walked passed all the poor cats who need loving homes, and made it to the rabbit section. Outside the area was a pegboard with tips of caring for rabbits. I was reassured to know that I already knew most of the information from my visits to We were suprised to see that most of the rabbits there were older than we expected. Apparently rabbits get pretty big in the first year (aside from dwarf rabbits), we realized that caring for a rabbit under a year old would be a bit of a hassle especially for our first. As we wandered the area, none of the rabbits paid us much mind (as most were eating). I noticed one watching me lazily as I walked around, but I paid it no mind. When I passed by it, it just looked at me. I knelt down to look in the cage below that one, and when I was satisfied I looked up to stand, and saw that the rabbit in the cage above me was laying at the cage door looking down at me. The room was cramped, and I suspected when I stood up it would back up into the cage, but it didn't. I looked around the cage and saw rabbit pellets around the cage, and some in the litterbox. This usually indicates that the rabbit feels the need to mark its territory. Usually if there is another rabbit in the area, or if the area is new to the rabbit. I checked the clipboard, "Ava". different spelling, but still wierd She had only been there 3 weeks which could be why she had marked her territory. I wanted to avoid getting a rabbit who had been at the shelter a long time, because I thought the shock of moving would be increased if the rabbit was especially comfortable in the shelter. Her age was unknown, though she was more than a year old. Since rabbits usually live 10 years, her age wasn't a huge factor. We decided on Ava.

The website stated that we needed a letter from our appartment manager stating we were able to have rabbits, we didn't have that nor did we have the supplies we needed. Had we, though, we would have started the adoption process right then. As it stands, we have the supplies, and have yet to recieve our letter (she said she'd get it to us last tuesday...). This Saturday is set aside for picking Ava up. I'm excited.

On a side note; having an indoor rabbit requires that we "rabbit-proof" our appartment. Block off small spaces she could get trapped in, removing dangerous or valuable chewable items (electrical cords) from the ground, moving any houseplants (most indoor plants are toxic), etc. The process gave us an excuse to do some much needed cleaning of the appartment. Additionally, rabbits enjoy treats such as fruits and dark greens, this will entice us to actually purchase (and presumably eat) healthier foods. As a bonus, this rabbit is giving us an opportunity to start living cleaner and healthier. Cool.

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