Thursday, January 21, 2021

Fostering Bonded Bunnies is exactly like...

Do you want to know what it's like to foster bonded bunnies? (I hope so because if the title didn't give it away, that's what this post is about.) It's like the movie "50 First Dates", that's what.

50 First Dates - Are you familiar with this 2004 movie?
Henry hits it off with Lucy. Henry thinks he's found THE girl - and discovers she has short-term memory loss - she forgets him every "next day".

No matter the "progress" with the bunnies from hours spent on the floor in the evenings doling out little pieces of treats, the next morning, it's like they've never seen me or any human, before.

[To be read in the voice of David Attenborough]

And so our dating ritual starts over.
They really need to be brushed, but I hate to chase a bunny to pick it up for grooming, so we are letting it slide for now. Bunny hair wafts through the air.

So this very short video is immediately after I took the picture above as I rose s-l-o-w-l-y from my chair:


Their personalities are showing.
Lana - The boldest. Least likely to bolt from my approach, or maybe most likely to bolt last (if I get too close). This was demonstrated in the video above.
Lois - Curious and most likely to explore.
Clark - Really is the meek, mild-mannered reporter, I mean, bunny. He is most like to bolt first. 

The bunnies are food (treat) aggressive. When one gets a treat that can't be chewed on the spot, each will look for a safe place to snack. If spotted, the others will give chase. I feel like I have to watch out for Clark to make sure he gets some. When the two-legged treat dispenser is on the floor, Clark is the one in the background.

Lois will take treats from my open hand.
Lana will take a treat from the tips of extended fingers.
Clark prefers his treats to be thrown at him (not violently) from some distance.

If my hand is extended with no treats, Lois bites the ends of my fingers! She's never scratched me or drawn blood, but it's harder than when Bunya used to let you know he was pissed about something ("Read my lips - No more brushing!"). 

Happily, they are not food aggressive at meal time. They will all nibble the breakfast pellets, but the bowl is not empty when they have moved on. Similarly, the dinner greens are heartily set upon by the three, but by the time they get to the romaine leaves at the bottom of the bowl, there's some debris on the ground. They finish it up later.

The Georgia House Rabbit Society (GHRS) has set up their foster program with some guidelines that make it easier to take care of the bunnies, like what to feed them, when, and how much. Dinner greens are romaine lettuce, parsley, and cilantro. To reduce the "move this out of my way so I can get to what I like most" scattering of dinner greens, I have learned to put the lettuce on the bottom of the bowl and the parsley and cilantro on top of it, so they can devour what they love most, first.

As a new bunny foster parent, I'm guessing it would be easier to foster a single bun. We had Bunya for a couple of years, as he patiently waited until we learned how to better care for a bunny and found his loves, Lucy & Ethel. Consequently, he was always the most comfortable around humans, even strangers. He'd check out just about anyone to see if they were carrying a treat, while Lucy and Ethel hung back.

This trio of bonded bunnies have short memories, influenced by each other's behavior. Clark bolts first, triggering Lois, who bolts next. Lana will keep a wary eye on you, and as long as you do not get too close or move too fast, she'll stand her ground. Previously, she would zoom away with the others, but she seems to be evolving, getting a little more used to us.

Been about 27 First Dates so far. I hope I can improve on 50.

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