Once upon a time, a long time ago (approximately six years), in a land far, far away (Wisconsin) there was a man who had a few bunnies. Well, a shit ton of bunnies to be more specific. The man loved bunnies. He loved all the little fluffy things that people love about bunnies, but he loved eating them more. So all of these bunnies were destined for the freezer. Until two of these bunnies were taken away to live the good bunny life in West Virginia (short-lived thanks to a neighbor’s dog) and New Hampshire (with a five year stint in Maryland).
This is Hoppers, formally knows as Sir Hops A Lot. He was just a little guy in this picture but anyone who has been to our house in Maryland or in New Hampshire has probably had the chance to pet Hoppers, admire his size, and comment on what a fine pair of slippers he would make.
This winter Hoppers had a stroke. Combined with his age we knew he probably wouldn’t make it to the fall, so we had a few discussions of what to do with the mammoth bunny hutch after he was gone. Although the hutch is big enough to house a young elephant, the sane thing was of course to leave it empty for awhile and make a decision next spring.
I ended up taking a trip to WI for a wedding event. This is also where the Bunny Man lives. Thankfully he did not have any bunnlets in the barn, but he did have four lovely lady rabbits that were housed together. They came right out when I opened the cage and asked for pets, and of course I couldn’t not pet them. And of course I had to point out to the Bunny Man how nice these four girls were.
After I got back home to New Hampshire the Bunny Man called to tell me that I had ruined those bunnies for him. They came to the front of the cage when he fed them, looking for pets and treats. There was no way he could put the in the freezer now, and oh by the way, it turns out that only two were lady bunnies. The other two were males.
It just so happened that Tracy had a trip to WI scheduled that included a 16-foot moving truck and a grizzly bear. Plenty of room in the truck for a couple of rabbits, I said. He told me there was no way he was bringing home the two girls because we didn’t need more rabbits. He was right, but of course he brought them home because he’s wonderful.
Griselda the Harpy Auctioneer is the solid black bunny (she’s with Hoppers in the first picture and me in the third) and Mad Madam Mim is the wild bunny with perky ears. Both lovely girls who’ve seemed to adapt to New Hampshire life quickly. So all was good. Hoppers had a couple of friends to live out the rest of his life with, and we’d still have two very nice rabbits once Hoppers died.
So, there’s a funny thing about getting rabbits from the Bunny Man. They sometimes come with, well, extras (as Cousin Mandy can attest to).
Grizzy and Mim had been with us for about three weeks when I went out to feed them and noticed something odd. Grizzy was stealing and carrying around her hay.
Since rabbits don’t generally carry things around in their mouth, I was fairly sure about what I was going to find when I opened the inner house…
Grizzy was nesting. She actually was pulling hair out of Hoppers to make her first nest (he didn’t seem too concerned by it) but the nest pictured was her second one (after I cleaned up the first and tried to give her a nesting box – which she didn’t fit in).
A quick calculation from the day I left and when the two bucks were removed from the cage did support the pregnancy suspicion. I did some light belly probing and was pretty sure I felt babies bopping around and I could also see movement when she was laying still. Poor Hoppers got moved out of his big house since moving Grizzy could cause stress and result in her eating the potential babies. I also decided to leave Mim with Grizzy since they were bonded and separating them could also cause stress.
During the late morning of June 1st Tracy found that Hoppers had joined the Great Bunny Warren in the Sky and we planted him in the garden. That night or early the next morning, Grizzy had her bunlets.
These pictures are from day 3 or 4 – the first day I just did a quick check to make sure everyone was alive and did a quick count. Five babies. I was thrilled, since five is a very doable number when trying to find homes.
As the babies grew and Grizzy declined to eat them, I learned that there were actually nine bunlets. I also learned that baby bunnies are a lot like popcorn at the beginning…
We’re learning many interesting things about rabbits and mothering practices. Grizzy and Mim are defiantly co-parenting. Mim actually spends more time with them than Grizzy does, and I would say is the more nervous of the two when it comes to possible threats to the children.
Rabbits also carry out speed nursing and only three or four times a day. This is so they don’t draw attention to the nest where the babies are.
The bunlets started occasionally go out on their own, looking for Grizzy if they feel they haven’t had enough to eat…
They opened their eyes on day 12 and really started doing bunny-type things by day 13…
Yesterday I started handling everyone so that they’re fully user-friendly by the eight week mark, which is when they can be weaned. It’s amazing how fast they change in 24 hours. They’ve become quite adventurous.
Today was the first day they started eating rabbit food, which means we can start introducing them to treats. So now, other than slightly squished faces, they look and function like real rabbits. The plan is to keep one of Grizzy’s daughters and find the other eight bunlets homes. Considering the plan for this year was to NOT acquire any new animals and we now have 24 new chickens with another 15 coming, and baby bunnies, who the hell knows how many of the babies we’ll end up with.
The obvious moral of this tale of 14 bunny tails, is no good deed (saving bunnies from the freezer and making your wife happy) goes unpunished. But if the punishment involves fluffy bunnies, count me in.