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I always saw living in a rented flat as a barrier to having any pets. Dogs need a lot of space, while cats need to be able to get in and out of the house and into a garden or open space easily. So a first floor flat with no garden is not ideal. But after researching house bunnies and how to care for them we decided to get our first in January this year, a beautiful mini lop called Lotta, and two weeks ago we got our second, Teddy. There are so many reasons to get a house bunny, but here are 5 reasons that have most resonated with me over the last 5 months.
1 - Pet Therapy
To say it has been a hard year is a bit of an understatement. In August last year my mum suffered a stroke and was unable to speak or use her right hand. Then over Christmas my dad let a mid-life crisis take over and left her (happy holidays)!
6 months later she has moved near friends and is recovering really well from the stroke. She is now running, dancing and swimming, but only in her spare time as she is back at work. While things are looking up a bit now things are still very messy, and in January things were really bad so getting Lotta was a real comfort to me. After a stressful day of work and worrying about my mum, my sisters, who were trying their best to deal with the situation we had all found ourselves in, coming home to Lotta who was always happy to see me (she knew she would get her favourite nuggets to eat), was a great way to take my mind off everything else that was going on, and feel both loved and needed.
It is often argued that having pets or even just spending time with animals can be beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety; pet therapy has become part of the mainstream and universities offer their students time with dogs and other animals to reduce exam stress and anxiety. There are lots of differing opinions about pet therapy and whether it really works, but I can say that from my experience having Lotta has only ever made me happier.
2 - Space
Our flat is fairly small and the main space is an open plan kitchen and living room, but for house bunnies, this is absolutely fine. We don’t cage Teddy and Lotta, so they can run around the living room, sit under the table, and have a favourite rug in the corner where they like to snuggle up together. Rabbits are also really quiet, which is great if you live in a flat—there’s no chance of disturbing the neighbours. Although, if like me you have neighbours with a really barky dog and also a loud parakeet, sometimes you might wish your rabbits did make a bit more noise!
3 - Training/ Cleanliness
I never knew until I properly researched house bunnies just how easy it is to litter train them. Both Teddy and Lotta are now litter trained, and although there were a few incidents along the way (the sofa took a bit of a hit), it didn’t take long at all! They are also really clean animals (although they do like to eat their own poop). Now that we have Lotta and Teddy together and they are bonded bunnies they enjoy cleaning each other and we have noticed how much cleaner the back of Lotta’s neck is now that Teddy is around! Also, when they "wash their faces" it is the cutest thing ever!
4 - Personality
The best thing about bunnies has to be their personalities! I think people often assume (myself included before I got the buns) that rabbits don’t really do much, and are just super shy, but this is completely untrue, and rabbits have just as much personality as cats or dogs, and are completely individual. Teddy and Lotta have totally different personalities.
Teddy is much shyer, but this is likely to be because we have only had him for about two weeks. He’ll let people pick him up and enjoys being stroked, but he’d rather have attention from Lotta than from us. Lotta enjoys attention from everyone and anyone. She will actively come over and nudge against your hand if she wants to be stroked, and look up in outrage whenever you stop. However, she hates being picked up. She will also happily hop up onto the sofa and sit on your lap, or snuggle up beside you to watch TV.
They enjoy running around with us, and in the mornings Joe will play chase with Lotta around the living room sofa. They are very aware of where their food cupboard is, and go a bit crazy when they know they are about to be fed—Lotta in particular! That’s another clear difference between them—she goes completely crazy when we feed her (we feed them both from our hands in the morning and evening with rabbit nuggets), while Teddy will happily sit still, slowly and calmly chomping away.
I absolutely love how different they both are, how their personalities balance well and the fact that despite how different, they are they are so cute together!
5 - To Take Care of Them
The final reason to adopt a house bunny is to look after them and provide them with a happy life! We got Lotta from Pets at Home. When we went in, "just to talk to someone and get some more information," she was all alone in an adoption area, behind a glass panel in a small space not big enough to run around in. We couldn’t not bring her home! Then we saw Teddy on the RSPCA website and took Lotta along with us to meet him. I wasn’t sure about getting another bunny in case they started fighting or there wasn’t enough space—and I know everyone says you should have two, but Lotta seemed so happy. She was always really relaxed, flopping out on the carpet, sitting on the sofa with us, and generally being adorable! But she did seem so excited to see us every evening that we thought she probably was lonely in the day. So we brought her along to see Teddy and she was obsessed with him immediately—she was following him around trying to make friends (while he stamped his feet and ran away). Again, there was no way we could leave him behind!
Lots of bunnies take weeks to be bonded together so we had prepared ourselves for the process to last a while, but actually after 24 hours of Teddy being terrified of her, and then another few where he just wasn’t too sure, Lotta had won him over.
Now the pair of them spend their days chilling together, and let us hang out with them too when we’re home. I’m just so glad that neither of them has to be on their own anymore, and that we get to go home to them both and their sometimes cheeky, always cute, personalities every evening!