Winter is Coming
We have the greater part of the covers on the hutches ready for the cold weather but there are another ten or so to do. Then all the rabbits will be cosily wrapped ready for winter. The shed windows have already been covered with perspex. Hopefully more will be done this Friday as it has been a lovely dry week. Indeed it has been brilliant rabbit weather so they have all enjoyed foraging for fallen leaves and lying in the sun.
I have finally updated the website a bit. The most important thing was to get the new sort code for the bank onto the sponsorship page. It is now done. Hopefully existing standing orders will automatically be updated and won't just not get paid or we could be in trouble. We raised the issue with the bank, and were assured it would be fine. I have also updated the current residents page and made a few adjustments to other pages too.
We took in rather a lot of rabbits this year. With winter and the short nights almost with us it is a bigger struggle every day to get all the work done. My fibromyalgia does not help! I recently had to wean myself off Tramadol and now have no pain relief at all. So we really must not take in any more animals until next year. I hate saying no but have to be realistic. I really cannot do any more work, and could do with doing less. Fortunately we have fewer guinea pigs this year. We have struggled to get enough volunteers to clean them out twice a week and I can no longer fill in if no one comes so we have only taken in a few this year so that the job is more manageable for the volunteers we do have. We now only have the three villages, plus Jethro and his friend. The extra males are still in foster homes. Two villages have 12 residents, the other 5. The good thing is that the piggies love having all that space.
We have an awful lot of very old rabbits. More than half are over seven and roughly 30 are over 8. But one less than yesterday. Sadly Verbena finally gave up. She has seemed to be close to the end for months but kept battling on, eagerly coming out into her run and eating with great relish, despite getting thinner and thinner. She was on a lot of pain meds for an injured back so we are confident that she was comfortable. Today she finally gave up. She was here for eight and a half years and was an adult of 2 or so when she arrived from a horrible situation where she had lived in a bird cage with three other does. We took about 60 rabbits from that place! Two others are still with us, Maverick and Octavia, although Octavia came to us a year after the other two. Verbena had a good life once she arrived here. She will be missed but her life was the important thing and I am pleased to have been able to let her live it out here with enough space and the companionship she needed. Sunshine and Dandelion will miss her but at least they still have each other. She is unlikely to be the last old rabbit to leave us this season. All life must end, but preferably end well. And I think she did.
Sorry for Quiet Time
It seems that Newsletters are something I just can't find the time to do amongst all the work involved in caring for all the animals. Perhaps a return to a blog format will be better now that I have a portable device to do it on.
A quick update - in 2014 we took in 21 rabbits and 26 guinea pigs and at the end of the year had 96 rabbits and 52 guinea pigs in our care. So far this year we have taken in 21 rabbits and 2 guinea pigs and currently have 111 rabbits and 39 guinea pigs in residence. And we are expecting another two rabbits to arrive tomorrow, two terrified girls originally caught by a cat and brought home when they should still have been with their mother. They are not suitable for adoption and so are going to spend their lives here. Hopefully I will be able to bond them into one of our existing groups.
Bonding has gone very well this year which is why we are able to house more rabbits again. We have 40 sets of permanent rabbit accommodation so the number we can manage depends on group sizes. We now have 18 trios and 2 quads which is the most ever, exceeding the number of pairs for the first time. We have just one buck on his own until he can be neutered and bonded, which will be done as soon as he is eating our A&P pellets well and we are satisfied that he can cope with the operation.<\p>
All our guinea pigs are now living in villages except for the one male pair who are in a 6ft hutch outside. They really enjoy village life ambling about foraging and gossiping. They are not able to go outside but we pick them lots of grass which they love more than anything else.
Newsletter made for Spring 2012 here
The delay in placing the newsletters on the website are from a lack of space on the webhost, as the problem has been resolved the two files are now available
Newsletter made for Winter 2011 here
We have now been opening on Saturdays again for two months and are getting into the flow of it again, although we are not getting many visitors. This baffles me somewhat as we have much more on offer than many attractions that charge for entry. The new time is much better as it leaves us longer to get the place straight beforehand.
The new runs are all done and the occupants are very happy in them. Many thanks to Pertemps in Redditch for a £200 donation towards the cost of building them and to the colleagues of Sue Tudor Coulson for their collection which has also contributed and to the Pledge a Pound Easter appeal for a further donation towards them.
For a while we had enough runs for all the rabbits. But, being awkward creatures, two groups have since split up and so we are two runs short. Sweet Pea and Brer were making poor Cirrus's life a misery by chasing him, and since he is now completely blind in one eye he kept running into things. When I tried him with another group he paniced and ran about madly again crashing into things, so he is now on his own in the hutch and run the trio used to share, with them in the adjoining run so he can still smell them. And Parsley and Iris have once again had a big bust up. One day they were as loved up as could be, the next they were trying to kill eachother. They have done this before. At that time it proved impossible to bond them to anybun else, and they finally went back together. This time I will give them some time to forget what the quarrel was about and try them again. Iris remains in the new run they were sharing while poor Parsley is in a cage in sick bay with just a guinea pig run during the day. I think he was the instigator of the fight. The other rabbit with only temporary accomodation in sick bay is Honey Bee, an elderly stray recently brought to us. Once she has been spayed I will hopefuly be able to bond her into one of the existing groups.
I could have given one of the two extra rabbits the other stable in the barn but it is time the guinea pigs got prioritised, so instead it now houses four groups of guinea pigs, two in triple hutches, the other two on the floor. It is the biggest stable so each floor group have 6ft by 5ft runs. I have also divided the front stable so that the rabbits have one half and a group of piggies the other half. Ideally by winter I will have moved all the rabbits outside leaving the stables for the guineas to winter in. This will mean doing lots more bonding. Far more easily said than done! It is lovely to see the guinea pigs in the stables with room to wander about. This is how they ought to live. We need to further reduce the number of rabbits we have to make this possible for more of our guinea pigs. To this end we will not be taking in more rabbits for some time, unless they are returns. Nor can we take any more male guinea pigs as we have well over the 20 groups we can accomodate in the winter. So female guinea pigs are the only animals we can accept at present. Except returns. Once an animal has lived with us we are always willing to take them back.
We have taken in as many guinea pigs so far this year as during the whole of last year and had a few returned. And we have taken in 8 new rabbits, and had another 3 returned. One of the new rabbits was Methusaleh, a twelve year old rabbit who had been kept in a tiny cage all of his life. He was barely able to move and then only in a sort of shuffle. He was pitiful. We were able to clean him up - his coat was a solid matt of furmite debris dead hair and poo that had to be shaved off - ease his pain and give him other rabbits to snuggle up to at the end of his life. It must have been like returning to those distant memories of being with his littermates. I think thinking of him will always bring tears to my eyes. Sweetie, Peaches and Pineapple were lovely with him. They accepted him immediately, let him lay his head on them and groomed him and let him hog most of the food. He ate nearly non stop, all the best we could give him. Sadly he only had a couple of months with us to make up for his horrible life but I feel privilidged to have been able to do at least that much for him. I will aways have soft spot for the three who welcomed him into their life so generously too. Sweetie had never lived up to her name before, but she could not have been sweeter with him. I worried that Pineapple would not appreciate having an unneutered male in with his bunnygirls, but he did not see Methusaleh as any kind of threat and was as happy to snuggle with him as the girls were.
Also notable in the new rabbits is Velvet, a doe who arrived very pregnant after having been given to someone pregnant and with the father so she became pregnant again after she had the first litter. We were already full but I took her as otherwise the man would have had fifty rabbits at least within the year. A problem prevented. The first litter were all male so he kept them with the buck. I just hope they won't end up fighting:~ Velvet is a beautiful blue/gray rex cross doe. She has the rex coat but it is coarser than it would be in a proper rex. She also has very large ears so probably has some lop in her. They don't say 'they breed like rabbits' for nothing! She 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 ready to run! 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 she only had two.Both are female so it is a very good thing we took her. They are called Fig and Fern and were born on 18/4/11. We have turned one of the stables into a playground for them and they make full use of all the levels.
Since the group of ten male piggies from the chinchilla cages, we have taken in one other male piggie, Smokey Joe, and seven female piggies. Smokey Joe is a black and white male guinea pig. He came to us from a local care home as he 'was of no further therapeutic value'. He was neglected and terrified of people. He was very thin and his coat was thin and full of scars where he had scratched himself raw, although he had been treated at a vets for this just before coming to us. They had no idea how old he is, but I estimate him to be no more than three despite his poor condition. He needs to be in better condition before we have him neutered so he has gone to a foster home for some tlc to both fatten him up and to help him get over his fear of people. One of the new females, Scarlet, is living with one of the chinchilla pigs, Dylan, and two others, Jemima and Zoe are living with Uno another of them. The others are living in pairs kept well away from any females. We will keep them like that for as long as possible as we don't have room for four more groups of piggies. But we will get them all neutered so they can have partners if/when they do fight. They are all eating well now although I had to syringe feed three of them for weeks after they arrived as their teeth were so bad. Freida, another new girl, went to a new home with Perrin to live with a piggie we rehomed in the past who had just lost her partner. The other new females, Willow, Daisy and Bailey have gone into existing groups.
We have lost a few old friends in the past month. Rain finally succombed after battling hard all the two and half years he was with us. Poppet also was finally beaten by her poor health. Apple had been struggling with bouts of stasis for a couple of months and one day it carried him off. Vanessa suddenly went too. She had heart trouble but was so nervous that even giving her meds caused her a huge amount of stress. It was too much for her. We lost remarkably few through the hard winter, then this cluster when the weather is being kind:( It is the hardest part of what I do.
It feels like spring is here today:) What a difference the sun makes! The rabbits are really enjoying sun bathing and it won't be too long before some of the piggies can move outside too.
We have been planning some new runs for a while and they are finally taking shape. There were a lot of trees and bushes to clear to get at the site, and the hutches down the path had to be moved. The rabbits are doing their bit to help by eating the branches of the edible trees. They really like nothing better than to strip bark, some of them are very talented at it. No wonder gardeners aren't overly fond of them! They have been enjoying buddlia leaves, rose branches, beech trees and crab apple prunings.
Here is the cleared site:
And here is it with the posts in
Many thanks to the Pledge a Pound fundraiser on Rabbits United for the money to get started on these new runs and to Jennifer and Dave and Caroline for doing the work:)
With spring here the time seems right to start opening on Saturdays again. We had to stop opening back in October due to the VHD outbreak. We stayed closed over the winter due to the harsh weather and difficulty getting things done during the short days. But now the days are longer and we aren't so rushed and the outbreak is behind us. We just want to get the new runs finished first so we are planning on being open on Saturdays from the beginning of April between 2 and 4pm (Note the new time).
Looking back at 2010 we took in only 30 rabbits and 24 guinea pigs during that year, although we did have quite a few previous residents returned as well. By the end of the year we finally got the number of animals stabilised at a sustainable level - 100 rabbits and 50 guinea pigs, or close to that anyway. I had been struggling with numbers for some time and feel this to be a real acheivement. There just isn't time to look after anymore given the level of care that is necessary.I look back at the time when we have 175 rabbits and 112 guinea pigs and wonder how on earth I coped, but the truth is that I only just hung on and I can never let our numbers get that out of hand again. Sadly this means turning away an awful lot of rabbits. We get asked to take at least 20 every week. The problem with rabbits is huge and appalling. I can only impact the lives of those here and by opening perhaps open people's eyes to the real needs of rabbits. I applaud the Make Mine Chocolate Campaign, I urge people to help by putting up their posters or other suggestions on their website.
We now have 103 rabbits and 66 guinea pigs - quite a bit over on the piggie numbers, but fine for rabbits. We have taken in 2 rabbits and 16 guinea pigs so far this year. We have had another rabbit and a guinea pig returned to us and are expecting another rabbit at the weekend.
We are limited in the number of groups of guinea pigs we can give a home to by the number we can house over the winter as they obviously need to be inside. We can mange up to 20 groups. We really shouldn't be taking any more males although there is room for more females in our existing groups as all our winter accomodation is as least 8ft by 2ft. But when I got a call about 10 male guinea pigs being kept in chinchilla cages alarm bells rang and I said yes, vaguely thinking I could rehome them before next winter. I was right to be worried, the cages were very small and had wire bottoms with only narrow ledges where they could sit comfortably. Remarkably the piggies had adapted to climbing these ledges and several were sitting on ledges two feet off the floor!! This would have been worse if the piggies were adult, as their weight would have damaged their feet and meant that they weren't nimble enough to use the ledges. Bad enough though, and definitely urgent enough to make me take them despite being full.
I got them home and installed in dog crates in our conservatory sick bay where we keep new arrivals and those who have had operations or are very unwell. I was horrified to discover that all of them have bad teeth. Two had loose incisors which came out as I inspected them and several others had upper molars that were inexplicably worn all the way flat. And this in piggies all under 5 months old!! None of them have good teeth and three are needing to be syringe fed three times a day. They are not rehomeable, so I'm going to have to keep them. The testing bit will be when next winter rolls around. For now they have completely filled sick bay which had been empty over the winter. One of them (Uno) also has an abcess in his foreskin, which keeps having to be drained so that he can wee. The anesthetic he had at the vets has left him not eating well, and they decided cutting in to him would have made things worse, not better so it accomplished nothing:( I just hope he will be well enough to neuter one day so he won't have to stay on his own. Only one other is alone, the others were in groups of four but I have separated them out into pairs for a better chance of avoiding fights.
All older hoppensings posts are located here