Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Lucy passed over the Rainbow Bridge August 1, 2015
Several readers have asked about how Lucy passed and how Ethel and Bunya are doing since. We appreciate your concern and support.

Rabbits are prey animals and they instinctively know that the animals that exhibit weakness are the ones the predators will target. Therefore, rabbits will expend every last bit of energy they can trying to look normal or healthy. Once they give in to their illness or pain, it is very far along and you only have a short time to take the sick bun to a rabbit-savvy exotics vet ("exotics" being anything other than just cats and dogs).

Friday, Lucy showed her first sign when she did not come out for treats with Bunya and Ethel (they get treats in the morning and evening, so they get "tested" about every 12 hours). Another sign was that she did not want to eat dinner. Next was that she was hiding in one of their tunnels, not moving, even when I went to find her; Lucy does not like to be picked up and usually scoots away as soon as you find her. The fourth sign we noticed was her urine, that she likely had bladder sludge (a thickening of the urine with calcium). Bunya and Ethel (and before Lucy & Ethel, Alice) had all been sick, but never Lucy.

There are some "at-home" actions that can be taken. They have been successful with Bunya several times when he hasn't felt well, so we tried those with Lucy Friday evening. She still looked terrible Saturday morning.

We took Lucy to the vet Saturday first thing. The bladder sludge alone would not have been a huge deal; get fluids into the bunny and maybe adjust her diet. However, the x-rays also showed a mass in her stomach. (This is one of the things to look for in your (at least weekly) at-home bunny health check, and there was nothing noted in her last at-home exam; links here and here.) Our vet estimated it to be the size of a softball; it was difficult to specifically identify its nature. Surgery was needed to find out what it was and what else was going on that was making her so sick.

Surgery on a rabbit (or any pet) is extremely serious for several reasons. Anesthesia alone can be risky. After surgery, once the bunny is able to eat, her whole complex digestive system has to get up and running again. Even if surgery is successful, the rabbit can be lost in this effort.

We visited with Lucy for what turned out to be the last time. Lucy passed away during surgery.

Even though Lucy exhibited normal behavior almost to the end, what was wrong had to have been going on for several days earlier. So the last and fatal thing that was wrong was that there was a blockage of something hard in her digestive system beyond the stomach mass. It had become lodged and the tissue around it was already necrotic.

It's hard to believe there's no more Bun-muda Triangle.

Bunya and Ethel
Bunnies' reaction to the loss of a bonded mate can vary. Bunnies can mourn this loss. When a bunny passes, recommendations include allowing the body of the deceased to be with the survivor(s), so they can process what happened. Reactions can include, for example: (1) the survivors ignore it; (2) they examine it; (3) they groom or sit with it; or (4) they get angry with it.

In this case, we brought home Lucy's body and laid it on the floor. Both Bunya and Ethel came out and gingerly made their way around the low edged box where Lucy lay on a towel. They looked and sniffed and chinned and, eventually, moved on.

The most telling thing we believe Ethel did that showed she missed her sister happened the next morning. Every Sunday, we clean the bunnies' pen the most thoroughly (beyond just a litter box change or hand vacuum). As part of this, I was cleaning out the bunnies' carrier that we had used for Lucy the day before. There is a piece of carpet in the carrier to soften the bottom and give the buns some traction.

As part of the Sunday cleaning, we remove the carpets from their castles, tunnels, ramps and other toys to vacuum them. I had put the carrier piece down on the floor, too. Ethel came over, stood on it, and started very slowly sniffing it inch by inch. Of course, this started us crying all over again. Not that it takes much to get us started.

One of Lucy's favorite summer places to stretch out was on the cool bricks of their fireplace.
This was taken maybe 3 or 4 days before Lucy passed.
It was Lucy's "spot".
This is Ethel in Lucy's spot, about 3 days after.

I hope this answers your questions about what happened to Lucy and how Bunya & Ethel are handling it. Thank you all for your concern, well wishes and especially, the donations to GHRS in her memory.

Sisters Lucy & Ethel, adopted from GHRS
You can read the Rainbow Bridge here.


  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this. I read most of it in tears, but turned into a blubbering baby, at the pics of Ethel in mourning. I'm so, so sorry. I've always enjoyed reading of Lucy's, Ethel's & Bunya's antics, even though I seldom post, anymore. The Bunya Family have become part of our day, over the last few years, and Lucy is mourned, here as well.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine how difficult it was to share this but it is much appreciated

  3. I hope you know just how devastated we all are to hear this news. My all her happy memories, quirky behaviors and smile inducing antics one day replace the sadness in your heart. My thoughts are with you. ~Sharon

  4. Thank you for sharing this account with the many fans of Lucy, Ethel, and Bunya. Ours has been a rabbit household for many years, so we know the grief. It is the price we are willing to pay for the privilege of sharing our lives with such amazing, delightful beings as our buns. Love to all of you.

  5. I'm so sorry to hear of Lucy's death. It's so hard to lose a bunny especially a bonded bunny, at least it was at our house when we lost Usagi Chan, Rex was so heart broken. Anyway thank you for sharing please hang in there.

  6. Lucy have lived a happy life with Ethel and Bunya. I’m sure they miss her, but with the care and love that you are giving them, they’ll be able to move forward. I hope to read more of Ethel and Bunya's adventures. Take care!

    Elvira Mullins @ NelsonVets.co.uk