Rabbitat For Humanity

February 8, 2011 § 1 Comment

We adopted Tsuki and Mochi in December 2010 from the MSPCA: over the course of two visits, we selected these two special buns as they were the most gentle, interactive, and people-friendly, and we were hoping to find buns that would be able to integrate well into our family with relative ease. In their past lives, Tsuki was found abandoned on the street, and Mochi was the concession prize at a county fair (the second prize winner had wanted the first prize, a flat screen television). Nonetheless, the two bunnies found their way to the MSPCA where they patiently waited for new homes. Surprisingly, the rabbits have a fair amount of space in their pens at the MSPCA. We searched for suitable store-bought or online purchaseable habitats for the rabbits, but we couldn’t find any that met our specifications. Our requirements were:

[1] The habitat had to have enough space for the bunnies to hop, stretch, and explore. In our small cottage, a habitat with vertical capacity would be an ideal use of space.

[2] The habitat had to be made of nontoxic materials that the bunnies couldn’t chew and get indigestion (in particular, many store-bought wire habitats have wire coverings that bunnies can chew off).

[3] The habitat had to be durable and easy to clean.

After a long search for suitable habitats for the rabbits, Miya and I, not satisfied with the options available for prospective bunny parents, resolved to build one. Inspired by the efforts and blueprints of others, we crafted a multilevel bunny habitat out of the following materials:

– two boxes of wire storage cubes (the kind that are popular with college students – walls, ceilings, and floors)

– cable ties (securing)

– punch-hole particle board (flooring)

– weather-resistant carpeting (flooring)

– binder rings (door latches)

As you can see from the front of the rabbitat, the floors are made of a thin particle board that has holes that proved to be quite handy: it was possible to slide the cable ties through the holes to secure the boards to the wire squares as well as to the carpeting. Assembling the three-dimensional structure was relatively easy: we just used lots and lots of cable ties. The rabbittat now has three stories, with the first story being occupied by a litter box and a water bowl and the second and third stories are relaxation areas for the bunnies (a box of hay often makes appearances on the third story which is a sure-fire way to lure the bunnies back in when it’s time to go to bed). The front two cubes on the first floor were actually detachable and served as a separate “apartment” which we used extensively when the two bunnies were first brought home: they were not yet bonded. In order to prevent them from scuffling and forever associating one another with petty scuffles and awkward moments, we kept them in separate spaces and slowly introduced them with scheduled, closely supervised/chaperoned “dates.” We were not crazy about how small the living space was in the smaller apartment, but we figured it couldn’t be any worse than living in Manhattan. Nonetheless, speed dating was a priority.

The bunnies would swap living spaces each night so that neither would become too territorial. Initially, Mochi was completely girl-crazy and was constantly trying to mount Tsuki. Tsuki, much more adept on her feet, would scurry away to the hard wood floor where Mochi could not follow (his feet would slip). This boy-chases-girl routined played itself out hundreds of times. After a week and a half of dating and signs of affection starting to show, the two bunnies finally seemed to be calmer sitting next to one another, and I slept with one eye open on the couch, ready to leap up and separate the two bunnies should they start to fight. Fortunately, they did not, and after an hour, I turned on the Marvin Gaye and went back upstairs to sleep (if you’re wondering, the bunnies have been fixed). Since then, the bunnies have been inseparable.

So far, the rabbitat seems to be working very well. The first floor is slightly modified now with a larger (5-square) floor plan to allow for more horizontal hopping. Our bunnies now have free run of the living room and the staircase, but it makes me happy that they have their own space and find comfort and enjoyment in it!

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