Alvin is a shiny black lop buck who we first got to know in 2007 when he took Pearl home to be his lovbun. After Pearl sadly passed on in 2010 he came back and took Holly home with him. When Holly became very unwell she came back to us for medical care and Alvin accompanied her. They came all the way down from Scotland because Holly needed to be here. Alvin is quite a character. His face is unbeleivably expressive, and he has fixed ideas about how the world is supposed to be. Holly was very dear to him and they were extremely loved up. But she really was in poor health and the time came when we had to let her go. It took several attempts to rebond him as the girls we tried were too bossy for him. He is not the tough bun he used to be as he developed head tilt just before he lost Holly, so he felt somewhat delicate for a while. It was difficult to rebond him but finally he accepted both Fern and Ivy and they now happily share an enclosure.
Fern, Ivy and Alvin
I think he may be developing cataracts which would explain some of his odd behaviour. He has now had ear problems for years but carries on regardless. He used to have big problems with stasis when he was a house rabbit but has had no bother here with us outside. I think it suits him much better as he really doesn’t think much of humans. If you try to pick him up he goes into mad escape mode and runs into things trying to get away. He has a very long thick coat and needs regular grooming and so does have to tolerate being handled every so often but I only ever pick him up in the morning so he feels safe the rest of the time. Over time his head tilt has improved so much that I had almost forgotten that he ever had it.
Chestnut is a sooty fawn dwarf lop buck born in 2009. He came to us after intimidating his family so mhch that they couldn’t cope with him. You have to admire a cute fluffy creature who can scare people like that!! He was two years old at that time. He lived for a while with with Zion and Angel. He tried to boss them about as he was a very dominant rabbit but somehow they turned the tables on him and he was rather hen pecked for a while. As he was not happy we decided to rebond him. He lived with Cookie for a while until Cookie also started to bully him. Then we put him with Cocoa and Biscuit. Strange that he was able to boss humans about but three little lion heads were able to get the better of him! He seems much better off with these two, perhaps because they are also lops. Uppy eared rabbits seem to get a bit frustrated with the lops inability to communicate properly. A rabbits ears are a big indicator of their thoughts and intentions. A lop is basically mute and is often deaf from ear infections caused by the lack of air getting into the ears on top of that meaning that they are a lot slower on the uptake than uppy eared rabbits. Being a lop is rather a disability. It is such a shame that people keep breeding them when their suffering is inevitable. They are much more likely to have health problems. Generally the closer a rabbit is to a wild rabbit the healthier they will be.
That said Chestnut is still quite a character. He occasionally still grumps at someone. One gets the impression that this is more for the sake of his reputation than from any real grudge he still holds. Overall he seems content and is actually very healthy for a lop. His biggest problem is his coat which is extremely dense and doesn’t allow moulted fur to fall away but needs combing. That is another problem common in lops as they were originally a fur breed. He used to get in an incredibly revolting state when he was with Cookie as Cookie had not been neutered because he was old and in very poor health when he came to us and was constantly spraying poor Chestnut with urine to make sure everyone knew he belonged to Cookie. Thankfully neither Cocoa nor Biscuit do that.
Oleander is a gold buck with a white nose. He came to us in 2011 after he fought with his young male partner while they were with us for boarding. He was two years old at the time. When his owners got him they thought he was female and would make a good partner for their buck. After they fought they were not able to commit to caring for two pairs of rabbits and so left him with us to enable them to find a more compatible partner for the other rabbit. He now lives with Lavender.
Ollie has a recurrent problem with his bladder because he doesn’t drink enough and sludge builds up. Rabbits have very unusual kidney function in that they excrete much higher levels of calcium than other animals. It is not abnormal for there to be visible deposits of calcium in the urine but when a rabbit does not drink enough the urine becomes very thick and gradually builds up if the rabbit does not manage to fully empty their bladder when they wee which compounds the problem until the bladder becomes enlarged and the contents thickens to the consistency of toothpaste. At this stage the bladder needs to be manually expressed which may require an anaesthetic. I have found that the best way to prevent this in rabbits prone to it is to restrict the pellets they are fed and give them extra veg instead so they have a good intake of water via their food. As long as I stick to this regime Ollie is fine. So he gets extra apples, pears, carrots, cabbage etc which he is quite happy about as is his partner Lavender. As he is also rather prone to being fat the restricted pellet intake is doubly a good thing.
Fern is a gold uppy eared rabbit with white markings, she was born in the Sanctuary on 18/4/11 after her mother Violet was brought to us after she was given to someone while pregnant still with the buck who fathered the first litter. We took her to prevent the new owner being overrun by rabbits, which can happen in a very short period of time. They don’t say ‘they breed like rabbits’ for nothing! Luckily the first litter were all male so they stayed with the buck. Velvet was of course pregnant again, heavily so. We expected her to give birth at any point after she arrived as the babies could be felt moving inside her, but she held off for two weeks. We think she had a chat to the guinea pigs next to her who told her they are supposed to come out running! Anyway before she had them you could actually see her sides heaving, just like a guinea pig mum. They were very big babies, fat and chunky, but not quite able to run! Luckily (because we already had too many rabbits) she only had two. Both were female so it is a very good thing we took her, as they very quickly could have produced lots more litters taking the problem to another level. Sadly her sister got bloat and died when she was only 18 months old. And her mum got head tilt and was put to sleep in 2016, so Fern is the only member of the family still with us.
Fern and the Snowdrops
At first Fern lived with her mother Violet, who was a blue grey rex, not the hairy Violet we have here at present, and Snowbie but she had to be separated from them as she was chasing poor Violet so much. She was then bonded with Alvin and Ivy, and has lived with them ever since. She is a big fat rabbit and I have to keep an eye in the state of her bottom as her belly gets in the way of her cleaning herself properly. The risk of flystrike means that keeping rabbits clean is imperative. I can’t restrict her food because Alvin is old and quite thin. So vigilance is necessary.
Fern, Ivy and Alvin
Autumn, with us 2010-2017, lived to ten years old.
Autumn was a castor rex buck who came to us in 2010 along with three littermates because his owner was unwell and unable to look after them anymore. He was about three at the time.
He lived with his sister Summer for many happy years in one of our enclosures. He had to put up with her pouncing on him every evening at dinner time in defence of her food but otherwise they got on well. For years it was a ritual for him to run around the hutch a couple of times to build up momentum to dive past her.
As he got old he developed cataracts and went completely blind. Rabbits usually cope very well without being able to see but he coped less well than most possibly because he had chronic snuffles and couldn’t read the scents as well as a rabbit would normally be able to. He got very frail towards the end and rarely ventured into the run but maintained a good appetite throughout. We always refer to the greedy rexes as they always love their food and will eat just about any exotic vegetable you could throw at them. Even courgettes that other rabbits and even guinea pigs normally despise. He died at Christmas 2017 aged ten.
Summer is a castor standard rex doe. She and three of her littermates came to us in October 2010 due to her owner’s poor health. She was about three years old. She was very fat and had not had much exercise ever, having been kept in a small section of an aviary only long enough for a couple of hops. She lived with her brother Autumn in one of our enclosures for years until he died at Christmas 2017. She now lives with Nutbrown and Dachs in a shed with a big enclosure. She is remarkably healthy for her age.
Mayfly is a very fluffy black lionhead doe. She came to us in May 2010 when she was a year old because her owner was having problems and wasn’t looking after her. She was a dreadful matted mess and was thin and frightened. I had to cut the matts off and shave her bottom. She is still nervous of people but is happy living with Poplar and Birch in one of our sheds. She has become rather fat which I can’t do anything about as both Polar and Birch are on the thin side so she needs a close eye kept on her bottom as it is prone to get mucky as her belly gets in the way of her cleaning it herself. I keep it well trimmed so the mess has nothing to stick to. It is very important to keep rabbits clean and dry due to risk of flystrike. The rest of her coat needs a lot of attention too.
Firefly is a sooty fawn lionhead buck. He came to us after being hunted down by a great hoard of people after he was spotted straying near the train station in 2010. He made quite a few people late for work, and turned up outside the sanctuary on someone’s lap in the back of a car. We estimate that he was about two years old at that time. His owner never came forward. He is fairly friendly and lives with Clary and Tarragon in one of our enclosures. He is very prone to stasis when he moults and has eye problems caused by his tear ducts being blocked. He requires regular grooming and frequent eye treatments.
Yesterday and today have been far warmer than it has been for ages and than it is forecast to be in the coming weeks so I needed to take advantage of it and get the guinea pigs bathed. They really suffer from itchy skin if it is not done regularly, at least once every two months. Since the last time it was warm enough was in November they were all in need. I did the first group yesterday which fit in well as Saturday is my usual grooming day and there are other people here to get other work done. But today it was just me and half the rabbit hutches needed cleaning too. I would have moved that to a different day but it was raining yesterday and is going to rain tomorrow as well as be much colder. So both jobs had to be done today. I am pleased to say that I managed it. All the guinea pigs are nice and clean and comfortable and the rabbits have nice clean beds too. And I even found time to take a few pics of rabbits and snowdrops.
Rose is a blue grey lionlop doe who was about two when she came to us in October 2009. She was part of a group of 14 who were given to us because of her owners mental health trouble. The group included Old Bonnie, who of course wasn’t Old then. They were the last rabbits that we took in with the intention of rehoming. She had had a litter but the owner wouldn’t let her babies come to us as they were so pretty. I dread to think of the sort of lives they probably lived as opposed to the one they could have had. She was reserved several times as she was a very beautiful young doe, soft and sleek, but she fought with all her external suitors as her nature doesn’t at all match her looks so she stayed here. She is extremely dominant. But she lived with Cascade for years and years until he died in 2017, they were a good match. They were both very wary of people but loved their life together in their big enclosure. After she lost Cascade he was rebonded to Basil who she has firmly under her paw despite his expectation that he is king of the buniverse and ought to be bowed to. It actually took little more than a firm stare to establish her as boss. Basil thought he would be in charge, but she KNOWS that she IS in charge!
She suffers from ear problems as do most older lops as well as suffering bouts of stasis when she moults so keeping her well groomed is essential but she is still in generally good condition and is very active for her age.