Some people are dog people and some are cat people. I am a rabbit person through and through. My life with rabbits began 20 years ago when I moved away from my small hometown of North Bay to attend Art College at O.C.A.D in Toronto. I was having a hard time adjusting and my animal loving heart knew a furry pal would help to settle me, body & soul. When a very spirited English angora crossed our paths just a few months after we moved there, we just knew he was meant to join us on big city adventure and so our love, passion and life with rabbits began.
Now, many years later, I still happily share my life and studio with rabbits. I really can’t imagine life without them. They lend such inspiration to everything I do, especially to my whimsical artwork. I find such beauty and awe in all animals but to me, rabbits are especially stunningly beautiful creatures. Having lived with them for so long now, I know they possess such spectacular personalities, each so different from the next. They are a wonderful mixture of pure sweetness, endearing vulnerability, catching playfulness & joyful abandon whiles at the same time being naturally magic, sensitive and moody. I see all of these qualities in my work on some level and I love the similarities.
Besides inspiring my art, they also inspire me to live a kind life, to be vegetarian, to buy cruelty-free products and also to work hard despite what I am up against. I have high hopes & dreams that my artwork and art business will help animals; be it through the realization of my long dreamt of rabbit sanctuary, through donations to charities or by prompting viewers to see the beauty in animals and the need for more kindness and better stewardship, care and conservation.
I always have this nagging push and pull feeling of wanting to do more. So, right now, we are doing as much as we can by filling our home and studio with as many rabbits as we can comfortably fit, cage-free. My love, Jonathan is just as crazy about and dedicated to the rabbits as I am, maybe even more so. It’s been our decision to concentrate our love and make our family with rabbits instead of ‘the norm’ and we haven’t regretted that decision for a single second.
Our buns have come to us in a bevy of interesting ways over the years. One we found lost and half dead in the forest. Another was a store mascot who couldn’t handle the stress of kids and dogs constantly at his cage. Another we found under our porch with a severely broken leg, just 2 weeks after we brought 3 sisters home from a farm who were in desperate need of a good home. And, most recently, we’ve adopted eight from an animal shelter. I can’t stress enough, just how incredible & satisfying it’s been to adopt from a shelter and we’ll do so again in a second, as hard as it is to pick & choose & leave so many behind!
Life with rabbits has been incredibly fulfilling and joyful. Having a house full of rabbits running around happily, knowing that they have changed our lives as much as we’ve changed theirs, feels like a happy warm fuzzy dream. Knowing that I am part of their happiness lends such joy and sweetness to my life and inevitably to my work. Bright colour and joyful whimsy in my artwork is in a way, me, trying to capture their beautiful essence. Every single piece of art I make is me paying homage to them because of the unique way they fill my heart and creative soul like nothing else. I truly feel that I have rabbits, in large, to thank for my joy-filled heart, happy outlook on life & whimsical artwork.
If you’re at all interested in learning about life with rabbits, their inspirational ways, their silly antics and/or about each of the bunnies; Jaks, Teela, Flynn, Yuuji, Frenwyck, Elsie, Henrie, Emmett, Korra and how they each came to us, visit my Blog. I blog about 3 to 4 times a week and it’s pretty much mostly about two things: Whimsical art and the happy house rabbits that inspire it all.
Now, as a responsible blogger, I know that my blog makes bunnies look very tempting to some people, so it is here that I must now let you all in on the nitty gritty of rabbit parenthood!. As with any animal, one must know what they are getting into. After 20 years of making my life and family with bunnies, here are a few things which I must impart on you before you think of bringing a rabbit into your life:
Rabbits need loads of company. They are not solitary animals. If you have a bunny that is alone a lot, they will not be happy creatures. If you don’t gently interact with them on a daily basis like we do with ours, you won’t have the snuggle buns that you see on my blog. It’s also crucial to note that sometimes even with all the love & friendship offered up in the world, some bunnies are just grumpy, just like people, some may never be super friendly, some may never want to be picked up or hugged, etc but that still doesn’t mean that they want to be alone! It’s just something that one must be prepared for because whilst it may be disappointing, you just have to be happy and satisfied that you’re keeping them warm, safe, healthy and loved. Always keeping in mind too that rabbits are emotional and their emotions can indeed affect their health. It’s also said that rabbits are like elephants, they have very long memories, so any ill doing to them is not easily undone or forgotten which is something that we are always aware of since we adopt rescued buns that have often times been through drama and trauma.
Rabbits are extremely territorial and you should never assume that you can just throw buns together and expect them to get along. They can be very vicious towards one another and cause each other serious harm. Bonding bunnies is a gambit all in itself. It requires a whole lot of patience, some tricks and sometimes after all that it still doesn’t work out. Sometimes one rabbit will hate and forsake all bunnies it meets until it meets the right one for whatever mysterious reasoning they have; we’ve seen this time and time again. Sometimes they never bond with any other rabbit, but that doesn’t mean they that don’t want your company. We have 2 pairs in our house at the moment and 5 singles. The shelters tend to have bonded pairs however which I highly recommend because not much is sweeter than seeing two bun buddies snuggling it up and playing together.
Rabbits need to run and play. You cannot keep them in cages 24/7 (despite all of the poop they will inevitably leave behind!). If you cage a bunny and don’t allow them time out of that cage for at least 3 to 4 hours per day, you’re not going to see their wonderful personalities. Bunnies need to be bunnies, they need to run and leap and get lots of exercise for spirit health and especially for healthy gut motility. All of our bunnies are cage-free. We have a very strict routine of boards and gates moving this way and that so every single rabbits gets common play rooms and hallways on top of their own primary rooms. This works for us, it’s the only way we are happy raising our buns, but its hard work & of course not a viable option for most. But even way back when, when we did have to cage our buns, we had them in huge cages and they all got out on 4 hour long rotations. Cage-free is the way to go in my opinion of course BUT we do honestly spend an awful lot of time sweeping and vacuuming. Rabbits are super insanely cute and sweet yes but life with rabbits isn’t for everyone for like I said, they will leave poop all over (their little bums just don’t have the muscles to control whether they plop out or not) so if you have a problem with that, than rabbits might not be for you.
Eating properly is crucial for bunnies too. You can’t just give them a load of veggies and expect all to be okay. Rabbits are prone to calcium building up in their systems which can lead to problems so you have to be diligent in knowing which veggies are high in calcium etc. They need a high quality hay pellet but not too much. And hay is very important, various quality hays are key to a healthy bunny. The hay will indeed be tracked all over your house but that can’t be helped really! Little to no sugary treats are important to monitor as well for rabbits are systems are sensitive to sugar and they tend to be prone to something called G.I.Stasis which is basically when their stomachs/guts come to a stand-still and the food sits and rots and doesn’t get processed…rabbits can die from this quickly. So you have to take the time to really get to know your bun and their body language which will help you spot the beginning of stasis & other problems much more quickly. Also keep in mind that gaseous foods are dangerous for buns because rabbits simply cannot fart or throw up, so broccoli for example is typically not a good idea!
Let’s see, what else should I mention, hmmm, Oh Yeah, rabbits will chew. Rabbits can be quite destructive. Their teeth are constantly growing so they nibble constantly to grind them down (which is why hay and hay blocks are so important). We have over the years either gotten rid of our wood furniture or have learnt to wrap accessible parts with plastic or some kind of barrier from naughty little teeth! We have very little wood in our house that doesn’t have some small (or usually huge) nibble taken out of it. Rabbits will rip and punch holes in couches, blankets, clothes etc…wires and cords are a big dangerous favorite of theirs. Bunny-proofing before bringing a rabbit home is an absolute must. Don’t rely on your quickness to get to that cord before they do…they will likely beat you to it every time if they get it in their minds to chew it, ha ha! Some buns are good as gold and do little damage, but in our experience most will just be bunnies being bunnies and they will nibble and chew and they will require loads of patience and understanding.
Lastly, please be aware, if you are thinking of bringing a rabbit into your life that they can be very costly in regards to vet bills. Rabbits are prone to a bevy of problems and ailments such as cancer and heart failure. In our experience, whiles their constitutions tend to be tough, their stomachs are often operating on a rather delicate balance. Yearly dental exams with a vet are a must as well to keep on top of misaligned teeth or overgrown molars which can cause big troubles and of which are a problem that only a trained veterinarian can look into, spot and treat. Keep in mind too that not all vets will treat rabbits.
All that said, I am unsure of many things in this life, but one thing I do know to be very very true, a fact so solid and lovely, that I can always forever lean on it, is that seeing rabbits, who were previously stuck at a shelter or in another not so great situation, play and zoom and popcorn than stretch out and nap happily away is without a doubt one of the best things in this world, ever!