As some of you may have seen from the endless social media updates (mainly of me moaning), we have adopted rabbits. Two boy lop ear beauties called Biscuit and Blue. It was love at first sight. For me, not the kids. Coco was crying and wanted to go home. Raffy was chasing chickens. So I made the call – we were buying the rabbits – and this is how we became official pet owners (if you don’t already count the feral kids).
Now I pretty much entirely blame my mum for this decision. You see, we had a pet rabbit as a kid called Rosie, who I faintly remember, but over the years my mum has spoon fed me magical memories of what it was like living with a pet. “Rosie was sooooo friendly,” my mum would say. “She was soooooo gorgeous,” she would continue. Allowing my slightly over-excited mind to conjure up images of, what might as well have been, the Easter rabbit hopping gently around our garden nibbling grass and occasionally coming in for snuggles. I can confirm Ladies and Gents that the reality is somewhat different. So for any mad parents currently contemplating buying a pet, allow me to set the record straight.
Here are a few helpful hints to consider:
Sensible/sane people DON’T BUY A PET BECAUSE IT’S CUTE
Us lot: we did. I totally bought into the idea of it without really thinking about how much time and effort is required to keep an animal. In the last two weeks we have spent more time in Pets at Home than anywhere else. Mainly because we’re completely disorganised, but also because they need a lot of stuff (more on that in a minute). As well as the usual playgroup pick ups and baby classes, my day now revolves around letting the bloody rabbits out in their run, clearing out their hutch and cutting up carrots. As one clever person once said, pets are for life, not just for Christmas (or in our case the Easter hols). True dat.
Sensible/sane people DO CONSIDER THE COST
Us lot: buy random rabbit paraphernalia as we go along. Despite our complete inability to do anything properly, we do try. We debated for days over whether to buy a hutch for the shed or one for the garden, but decided the shed would be best used for other things so bought a pretty snazzy, monster sized outdoor hutch with a separate run. Guess where the hutch now lives? You got it, in the shed! After putting the piggin thing together in the rain, our neighbour kindly informed us that our estate had been filled with pet rabbits and Fantastic Mr Fox had killed the lot. Cue taking down the hutch and rebuilding it in said shed, which is now muddy and stained with rabbit wee. Wonderful! Because of this we also had to buy an outdoor run, which is almost the size of our house. Plus toys, food, brushes, bedding, leads (I joke not) and vet bills. Rabbits make cheap pets, my arse!
Sensible/sane people DO THEIR RESEARCH
Us lot: rescued the first rabbits we met. They are super cute and they did explain to us before we bought them that they would need to be neutered, and there was a possibility the boys could start fighting, but did that put us off. NOOOOO! These rabbits wouldn’t fight, they’re far too sweet and fluffy. One week later, Biscuit starts humping Blue (like rabbits) and low and behold the fighting begins. As a result they’re now on time out in separate sections of the hutch (the two levels came in handy in the end) and are recovering nicely after having their tiny fellas removed (sorry chaps!)
Sensible/sane people know THE KIDS DON’T CARE
Us lot: we were blinded by optimism, as per. I’m pretty good at dishing out rational advice to friends, but when it comes to my own family I tend to just hope for the best and wing it. Now the kids are still showing some mild interest, but the initial excitement of saying good morning to the rabbits and giving them their dinner has bottomed out faster than their testosterone levels (sorry again boys!) As most people would predict, mum and dad (aka dumb and dumber) have been lumbered with all the fun stuff like shovelling rabbit shit and remaining on fox watch for half the day – fun times!
BUT despite the fact I will now ALWAYS retain the scent of Eau de Hay and my jeans now host grass and mud stains alongside the usual baked beans and bananas, I actually love the rabbits and the life that comes with them. The few hours before dinner when the kids are normally climbing the walls and kicking the crap out of each other, they’re now on rabbit watch, playing in the garden instead. The rabbits actually give us a purpose and encourage us all to get some fresh air and exercise, rather than relying on Nick Jr to get us through the witching hour. The kids, despite not giving a hoot on a day-to-day level, become proud when they talk about their pets and Coco is convinced it’s just a matter of days before the producers from “My Pet and Me” come knocking. Raffy is now known as Darla (the over zealous pet fanatic in Finding Nemo) but the hope is that, rather than killing the rabbits, they will help him to become more gentle and I’m happy to report it’s far so good!
So for any parents considering buying a pet for their kid, my advice would be do it! Just try not to get caught up in the cuteness and think it through first.