The Knitting Journeyman

Gathering Up One Thread At A Time As I Weave This Web Of Mine.....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rabbits In Puberty

      our boys before puberty hit...bunny spooning is so cute

      Yesterday was a massive day for me.  I had such a good morning, writing.  Then, we went home to take care of the rabbits.
      Now, on Mother’s Day, the boys did escape their enclosure.  We have them in their condo w an attached play yard in our kitchen/dining room.  As best as we can tell, they either slipped through the roof of the condo, which had no way to fasten it closed—although it sure does now—or they pulled the bottom of the gate door open, since we normally only closed the top lock and not the bottom lock, and slid through that.
      Note from today:  they definitely came out the top of the condo.  When we get to the house, the first thing we normally do is open the top of the condo.  It’s easier to clean the cage, refill the food dish, pet the bunnies.  Today, it took Simon, the supposed good bunny, took all of twenty seconds to see where I was before leaping right out of the condo onto the floor.  He’s not too hard to catch, thankfully.  He wanted to get to his brother—and to find out what E was up to (she was cleaning).
      Mother’s Day.  R walks into the house first and yells, ‘hi boys!’, which is normally what I holler the second we open the front door, so they know who it is since they can’t see the front door.  Well, they could see the front door Sunday.  They were sitting at the back door, the sliding glass door, in the box where my Mother’s Day plants were sitting waiting for me to come plant them.  We’d gotten the plants the day before at the local farmer’s market store and I had set them on the floor in front of the window so they could get enough light until I planted them.  Simon took off as soon as he heard R’s voice.  Charley, sitting in the middle of the plants, sort of looked up as if to say, ‘huh?  What?’  So, the boys pretty much decimated my plants.  They seem to love the chocolate mint…there was very little of it left.  Next they hit the spearmint.  Both of those were nearly bitten off at the dirt.  The peppermint was also eaten, but there were more of them left than the spearmint.  It does seem as if no one was really interested in the catnip.  Or maybe they are picky eaters, only able to eat one thing at a time, needing to eat all of that one thing before moving on to the next.
      Following the ‘bunny trail’, it seems the boys were not out for that long (thank goodness).  They did spend some time on the couch.  They seem to have liked both my bedroom and my bathroom—my room is at the farthest end of the hall.  There was no trace found in either child’s room—or in their bathroom.  And I am so so thankful that for some weird reason on Saturday I made sure the door to the basement, which is in the dining room, was firmly shut when we left.  Usually we leave that open.  I am sure our rabbits would have been lost and/or dead (from chewing on something) before we found them if they had had access to the basement.  The little rascals went all over my bedroom…you can see where they came in the door, went along one side of the bed, and then the other.  Then into the bathroom. 
      We clipped the top of the condo shut w D clips.  We made sure the yard gate was firmly locked at the top and the bottom.  I spent the night worrying about the backlash from all that mint on unready baby bunny tummies.
      We walked in on Monday to find you could at once know there were bunnies in the house.  It’s the first time I’ve opened the front door and gone ‘woof! Bunnies…’  I figured it had more to do w all the mint they’d eaten the day before.  There was a lot of territory marking, which we do get now and then, although this was much more noticeable and the urine was darker.  Again, I figured, mint backlash, coupled w now being ticked at being shut back in the cage and yard, rather than having full range of the house.  Simon was cranky.  Cranky cranky.  Cranky teen-aged bunnies—are nippers.
      So we clean everything up Monday,  We pick on the bunnies.  There is some minor grooming needed and done.  When it gets to be major grooming, I need R’s help.  Neither of us expected that he would be such an integral part of taking care of bunnies, but he is.  I am glad for his help, and thankful for it.
      Other than Simon being snottier than usual, and his behavior has steadily been moving towards the snothead division for weeks now--I do pay attention, the boys were both business as usual.  Nothing really out of the ordinary.  It really didn’t stop that feeling of something was coming that had been eating away at me for the past day or two.  I didn’t really think it had anything to do w the rabbits.  I was having a different sort of issue personally (I’d prefer not to talk about it right now, thanks) …and a storm was coming.  As in a huge thunderstorm.  It hit last night and the dog spent the night going from the closet to under the bed, the thunder shook the house so bad.
      We walk in to the house yesterday…and as soon as we opened the door, we could see, things in the rabbit world were not ok.  There was hay and fur and poop scattered everywhere.  We do not get much fur flying everywhere usually, but it’s spring and I was thinking maybe they were shedding or something.  We never get that much hay and that much poop thrown outside the enclosure…nor thrown that far.  Plus, despite all my airing out and incense and air freshener, the smell of rabbit was worse.
      I look at the rabbits.  They are doing their snuggling spooning thing, but they are both…off.  They are uneasy, more huffy than usual.  My first thought was…was it noises that bothered them?  There are always ambulances or fire engines or police sirens wailing at all hours.  Was it neighbors?  Our next door neighbors can get into some loud altercations.  Was it someone breaking into the house?  Hey, it could happen.  I am not that difficult to track most of the time.  Plus, when we are here lately, nine times out of ten we drove, so if there’s no vehicle here, it’s not a big stretch to think no one is home.  Even with the lights on timers going on and off.  I picked Charley up, because he is the one who has more appreciation for me picking him up to snuggle lately.  He was … Charley.  He had a few mats in his fur that weren’t there the day before, but nothing really unusual.  I set him down on top the box in the play yard and I walked away.  About the time I left the room, Charley was back in the condo and he and Simon were going at it, fighting. 
Talk about a freak out.  I have E standing there, scared and nearly in tears because she doesn’t understand what is going on.  I have two rabbits trying to kill each other that have moved to the bottom of the cage to the back corner where I cannot reach them.  I have no qualms about stepping in between two dogs tearing each other up; rabbits don’t scare me.  I was more afraid of the damage they would do to one another.  As soon as they moved to a place where I could get them—it only took a few seconds, but it sure felt like forever—I grabbed Charley.  Charley may be my nipper, but he doesn’t nip out of anger or irritation, unless we’re grooming him and he’s had enough.  Charley is what I call an investigative nipper, like a puppy, or a baby, mouthing things.  Simon, however, for the last few weeks, has been doing a more dominant form of biting.  As in, your hand in my cage, nip.  Not hard.  Just enough to get your attention. 
      We locked Simon in the condo, since it was the easier thing to do.  Charley we left out in the enclosed yard.  We made sure he had food and water.  We cleaned everything up as best as we could.  I emailed the vet, since I wasn’t expecting rabbit puberty to hit until next month.  Then we popped into the truck and ran over to petco.  I prefer petsmart, and if petco had not had anything useful, we would have gone to petsmart, but it’s farther away and I don’t like to drive under the best of conditions, much less when my little baby bunnies are trying to kill each other.  Lucky for us, petco was just fine.  I had done enough research before we got the boys and before I bought the condo that I had basic prices in my head.  I knew what I wanted.  I just had to find it. 
      We bought the biggest small animal cage we could find.  I bought yet another litter box—which turned out to be a good thing today, since we needed one in the play yard.  I bought some treats, some orchard grass, little things to make them happy in their separate cages.  I feel so bad for Charley.  His cage is so small compared to what he is used to. 
      Both rabbits look awful.  I think I did Charley a disservice by keeping his fur so short.  I did find some sores on his back from the fighting.  I didn’t even try to groom either rabbit yesterday.  After what they’d been through, I figured a day of peace should come before I pulled out the grooming rakes and combs and scissors.  Simon is …a mess.  I am thinking cutting his fur back would be a good idea too.  At least until after we get him fixed.  He’s full of mats and grass and everything else.  He does look somewhat better today, but he still needs a bunch of work.  With his temperament today though, I am not touching him today.  Charley I am planning to work on after he’s been in the exercise yard for a bit.  I set up the play yard, separate from the condo, so that Charley has plenty of room to roam and to play and to be Charley.  Simon is sitting where he can see everything.  I have seen him charge the side of his cage at least once, and he keeps chuffing his annoyance at not being able to get to his brother.
      E is really sad.  It took me hours yesterday to get across to her the buns do not hate one another.  This is just a chemical and hormonal process.  They cannot stop themselves.  It’s just normal bunny behavior.  We got into glands and puberty..and what will happen to her and to her brother when they reach puberty,  She was honestly concerned for a moment that her hormones would make her fight with her brother, like Charley and Simon.  What I wanted to say was hormones weren’t going to make her any nicer to her brother and they aren’t what makes her so mean to her brother now.  But I couldn’t say it to her.  She was so genuinely concerned.   She does love her brother, but only when he’s not touching her stuff, or taking my attention away from her.  Now she just wants to take them to the vet and get them fixed so everything can be ok again.
      Now, with Charley in his own place, we learned a few things.  Charley, our beloved evil twin with his messy fur, is actually the neat bunny.  Yes, he made a mess, but nothing big.  He did not dig through and toss his food all over.  He did not dig through the hay and toss it everywhere.  He did not poop all over the place.  He used his litterbox to pee in fine.  Yes, I was worried he’d pee everywhere and poop everywhere and then sit in it overnight.
      Simon, with two floors at his disposal, had food everywhere.  He had hay everywhere.  He had re-arranged everything.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  It’s how we usually find everything.  Now we know for sure which one does what.
      We also found out we can start feeding them strange things a bit more often now.  Just a tiny bit at a time.  I brought bananas today.  We’ll have to see how that goes.