Little Max and I met in 2017. My husband started a new job that required him to travel frequently and we wanted to explore the idea of welcoming a small companion into our family to keep me company. I had also just started my PhD and was finding it to be quite stressful – I thought that maybe having a companion would help me cope a bit better! I’m allergic to cat and dog hair and when I heard that an acquaintance of my sister had recently adopted two bunnies, I was intrigued. I met her two buns (and discovered that I wasn’t allergic to them – YAY). After mulling it over for a couple of weeks and doing research on bunny care, we decided to contact the breeder she had adopted her bunnies from. Admittedly, at that time, I was ignorant about all the bunnies needing second chances and forever homes in animal shelters in Cape Town and that would be the first place I would start if I had to adopt another bun.
I always joke that I didn’t choose Max, he chose me. It sounds like a cliché, I know. But when visiting the kits, most were very shy – except for Max; he started jumping around and licking my hand right away. I got the sense that even though he was so tiny, he had a lot of spunk and attitude, which I loved. A couple of weeks later, we brought him home and we’ve been inseparable ever since!
Tell is more about Little Max, what does he like or not like?
I often compare Max to the rabbit in Alice In Wonderland because he seems to thrive on routine and will let us know if are out of step with his daily schedule; he is happiest when things run on time! He is very affectionate and loves his morning cuddles in bed and evening snuggles on the couch. That said, he also likes his own time to nap and bop about. Although we live in an apartment, he has some outdoor space with a digging box, which he adores. We regularly plant edibles in there for him to munch on – his favourites are lavender, nasturtiums, mint and basil (I resist forming attachments to these plants because they don’t last very long).
There is a long list of things Little Max doesn’t like. I think right at the top are visits to the vet – there’s always plenty of sulking when we get home, but I guess I can’t blame him for that! He’s scared of loud, sudden noises and gets annoyed with nail clipping or people touching his feet.
Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I think one of the most important things that has helped me has been to take the time to understand Little Max’s body language and daily routine. They are so good at hiding illness and pain, so it’s important to be attuned to the slightest changes in their behaviour. This sensitivity has helped us get Little Max the medical help he needs before things have become very serious.
Advice specifically for new bunny parents? I’d recommend meeting and visiting a knowledgeable bun parent first, to learn how buns are actually cared for, because reading about bunny care and dealing with the practicalities and nuances of this care are two different things. Knowing what I know now, I’d also recommend visiting a bunny welfare organisation to find a bun – it’s heart-breaking that bunnies are misunderstood and that there are so many who need good homes.
I am often asked why I chose a bunny, rather than having a cat, dog or goldfish as a companion – I think some people think it’s an unusual choice. While most people think that Little Max is cute, they are shocked at how much work it can be and how much care he needs – I always smile on the inside when this happens because it means there are a few less people in the world that would rush into a decision to adopt a bun that might later be given up.
My family have also had to learn about bunny care along the way, but they love Max. He stays with my mom, dad and younger sister when we have to travel – and they take really good care of him. After me, I think Max is most comfortable with my mom. It’s also adorable seeing my dad interact with him.
What food, toys and accessories do you buy for Little Max
Max is a picky eater – there are a couple of fresh greens that he loves (kale, mint, basil, watercress, carrot tops, wild rocket, butter lettuce, coriander and celery leaves). We rotate these and he’ll get around three of these in a serving, twice a day. We feed him minimal pellets (Burgess Excel Nuggets) and make sure that he has plenty of fresh oat hay. He’s also not a big fan of fresh fruits (I know, right?!… we’ve tried nearly all of them) but he will eat carrots and dried papaya, which we use as occasional treats. We introduce new fresh foods every now and again to see how he will react to them. Value Feeds produce a great range of hay sprinkles and dried fruits too, which we occasionally buy for him.
In terms of toys and accessories, he’s more interested in playing with and chewing on cardboard boxes, digging outside and climbing on the furniture than with a lot of the toys we have bought him in the past. To that end, we try to stimulate him through planting edibles outside, creating cardboard forts for him and making our own cardboard and hay toys with treats hidden inside. He loves snoozing in specific places in the apartment and so we have placed blankets and cushions in those spots for him.
How is Little Max’s living arrangements with you, do you use an enclosure, free roam etc?
I think I would describe Max as mostly being a free-roam bun. He has access to all parts of our bunny-proofed apartment, except the bathroom. He also has access to our balcony, but we close the door to this when we aren’t able to supervise him. He does have a cage, where we keep his litter box, most of his hay, food and water. Although the door to the cage is open, he will sometimes spend hours in there just napping – I think it might be a safe spot for him. He also sleeps here at night.
Do you have friends who have pet bunnies? Give them a shout in this article if you want.
Unfortunately, I don’t have friends with pet bunnies L that would have been nice though!