Having a friend
Agnes asked me to advise on her bunnies. She has 4 bonded bunnies that stay outside mainly, and sleep on the porch in the night. Then she rescued this little ball of fluff from the streets. A tiny little long ear, shy and full of antics. And after a while, all changed and the little one passed and they needed closure and an explanation of WHY. Agnes’ teenage daughter, Anchen was heartbroken. They all just wanted to know why.
Bambi was the cutest little baby. And they kept Bambi inside, Anchen took charge and fell in love with her.
Agnes and her daughter, Anchen, had some disagreements. Anchen wanted to get a friend for Bambi. Agnes felt that they really had enough bunnies. So, should they bond him with the others? It will not work. Having a strong bonded tribe, a lot older than him, he would only get hurt. Also, he is not used to staying outside.
Then, Anchen looked after a friend’s bunny while they were searching for a new home for this bunny, only a bit older than Bambi. And Bambi and the friend immediately clicked. This happened so fast… them becoming friends. Sharing litterboxes and meal trays. Bambi enjoyed Astro in his life.
Because Agnes refused another bunny; the family found a new home for Astro, and Astro went to his new home.
The next days, they found Bambi often sitting with a far off look. He started withdrawing from Anchen as well, and he was pining. Next, he stopped eating well and only nibbled. Bambi became more and more drawn into himself. They wondered if he was getting sick… They took him to the vet, but the vet found nothing wrong.
And 3 weeks later, when Anchen came back from classes, Bambi lay passed away in a corner. He has eaten that morning still.
So they contacted us to get closure. Do we have insights…
Meanwhile, Astro was also taking a bad dip. The new family tried bonding him to one of their other younger bunnies, but Astro wanted Bambi. In the end, the family saw he was too unhappy and gave him away to be the next family’s problem.
Let us look at what was fair towards Bambi… and Astro.
Keeping a bunny alone is like putting your child in solitary confinement. No contact with other children even though you can hear them outside. Some bunnies are good alone, but mostly bunnies will go into serious depression. And some, like Bambi, will pass. Especially if he was a rescue and had lost his family already – or even if he or she has lost his family by being whisked off to a pet store to be sold prematurely.
Rabbits are emotional creatures. Bambi would not survive with the larger bunnies, it is like putting a toddler with a lot of university students. He made a friend, and the friend was taken from him. He was deprived of his choices.
Rabbits are social creatures, and having a bunny friend to share their nights with and play with will make a much happier, healthier bunny. Your bunny does not only have physical needs like food and shelter… he has emotional needs too. Just like human kids. Love. And no matter how much you love your child, your child needs friends too, to help them develop. And if they chose a good friend, let them keep their friendship.
Cleaning after 2 bunnies that share a litter box is exactly like caring for a single bunny. But they will be so much healthier. Because their emotional needs are taken care of.
Bambi passed of a broken heart… being lonely. This could be so easily avoided, by keeping the friends’ bunny as the chosen friend for Bambi. Why do we get bunnies, if we do not look after THEIR needs too?
Anchen is angry with Agnes. And Agnes feels really horrible. While we can forgive her – she did not know that young bonds can become so strong, so fast, we also feel so sorry for a life lost – and maybe soon Astro will also pass. Or become a problem bunny that will be given away again or dumped… because he is still searching for the friend he lost.
Please look after your bunnies’ emotional needs too. That is part of the responsibility when you take them to live with you ❤️