- Dunster House
- Head Office
- Caxton Road
- MK41 0LF
- Tel: 01234 272 445
- Fax: 01234 272 588
One of our Company Owners, Alex, is mad about bunnies, and is now currently, (at time of writing), the proud owner of 9 - Flopsy, Binky, Fluffle, Puffle, Benny, Paddy, Jaffy, Dusty and Poppet.
Here’s his story…
Alex has always loved rabbits, but it wasn’t until 2010 that he’d had the desire to take on the serious responsibility of caring for one. It was his brother, Andrew, who originally bought two girl rabbits, Flopsy and Wiggles, bringing them home to join the extended family. As soon as Alex found out, he was immediately in the car and round to visit them, spending a happy hour just enjoying being in their company.
When Andrew went away on a family holiday, he asked Alex if he would look after Flopsy and Wiggles in his absence. Alex happily agreed. Always a little OTT in his approach to life, he built a large run of approximately 6m x 1.2m incorporating an insulated hutch for them to holiday in. The hutch was so over-engineered it needed 3 people to lift it.
Unfortunately, one night when Alex went to play with and feed the rabbits, he discovered poor Wiggles making ‘squeaking’ noises, very distressed and Flopsy bothering her. Looking into their hutch he discovered her fur everywhere and thought Flopsy had attacked her. Gently picking her up he could see she indeed appeared to have been attacked as what appeared to be intestines, or similar, were hanging out of the back of her. Alex was naturally horrified, but on closer inspection discovered it was actually the back end of a still-born baby rabbit. Flopsy was actually a boy bunny! The fur in the hutch had been Wiggles creating a nest ready for her babies. Flopsy was separated, Wiggles was carefully placed in the hutch, and Alex called a vet out of hours, promptly gathering up Wiggles and driving her to the surgery. There he was greeted by a wonderful Vet called Hannah, who after inspecting Wiggles, warned that an operation was needed, and there was a chance she wouldn’t make it. The baby was indeed dead. Hannah also stated that she had to offer the alternative of having Wiggles put down, something Alex had no interest in considering. He told a relieved Hannah to proceed to try and save Wiggles, having her neutered at the same time as advised.
Wiggles made it! Now she had to be separated from Flopsy for a few weeks to allow her to heal, and Flopsy had to be neutered so they could continue to live in harmony. Wiggles was moved into the conservatory and a hutch/run system bought and modified to solve the housing problem during this time. When Andrew and his family returned home (unaware of all the drama, as Alex hadn’t wanted to spoil their holiday), it was agreed that Alex would continue to look after Flopsy and Wiggles during their recovery stage. During this time, Andrew and family discussed if they wanted to continue being rabbit owners or whether to ask Alex to keep them full time (something Alex was very keen to do). They were grateful to relieve themselves of the responsibility that rabbits are, knowing they would be well cared for.
This was the beginning: Shortly after Flopsy and Wiggles were reunited, a naïve Alex decided to take on another rabbit he called Binky, who’d spent three months unwanted in a pet store. Binky is a beautiful big black rabbit, but it seems people don’t like black or red eyed rabbits and they get ignored. He assumed that Binky could be introduced to Flopsy and Wiggles relatively easily. Upon discovering this wasn’t the case, and building another home for Binky, he rescued another rabbit, named BoBo, a lovely, friendly, floppy eared, white rabbit who would become Alex’s best friend for the next couple of years, always desperate for human company and like a puppy dog in manner. Still naïve, however well meaning, Alex discovered that Binky and BoBo couldn’t be left together because they would fight. BoBo was provided with a large store-bought hutch, which looking back was wholly inadequate, and so, having moved house, Alex got in touch with a rescue centre called Rabbit Residence, in Hertfordshire, who agreed to take Binky and BoBo and find them friends, before returning them to Alex and the new, purpose built accommodation that he had built in preparation for them.
A teeny, tiny problem now presented itself however. Alex had only designed his home accommodation for 3 sets of rabbits and he was now faced with a need for four sets. Unwilling to split up existing accommodation, making them smaller, he set about bashing through a wall of his, previously beautiful, conservatory, and building a rudimentary but effective extension with attached run, in which to house his newly acquired dependants. Fluffle and Puffle were happily housed in this before Binky and BoBo returned from the rescue with their new friends.
Binky returned with Benny. Binky did not bond so well, Benny being roughly the 12th rabbit attempted. He is about 3.5kg and slightly larger than Binky. Also docile, inquisitive and happy, Benny’s history is nearly as poor as Jaffy’s. He was born with numerous siblings into a regular sized hutch, where they all subsequently grew but remained confined until they were all living on top of one another. The rescue centre upon being informed of this situation, spent a long time persuading the owner to give up the rabbits who were in disgusting accommodation. Their insistence paid off and they were able to rescue them all. Benny was therefore able to be given a new and happier life.
Alex was content. More than content, he’d wanted to have 3-4 rabbits and now had 8. This, he felt, was beyond adequate or normal and was very keen to stop adopting. Unfortunately for Alex, he was told of another rabbit by a member of his sales team, that if no home was found for it, then it would be put down. Paddy rabbit was dutifully adopted the next day, a gorgeous small, tortoiseshell rabbit. This time a large dog crate was bought and adapted to short-term house Paddy. The hope was that he could be bonded with Fluffle and Puffle, rabbits of similar size and opposite sex, but first Paddy had to be neutered. After neutering and time to recover, Paddy was indeed successfully bonded with the sisters, moved in with them and seems very happy. Alex now had 9 rabbits.
Unfortunately 9 would become 8 when 6-7 months after adopting Paddy, BoBo became sick. After months of monitoring his weight and a few worried trips to the vet, Alex would take BoBo to the vet for the last time as he was lethargic and hardly moving. As always, he told the vet to spare no expense and do all they could for his little furry friend, but the next day Alex got a call saying that BoBo was struggling and should be put down. Alex broke down in tears on his driveway, where he’d been gardening, begging the vet to help his little friend. In the 2 minutes of conversation, BoBo passed peacefully away, later diagnosed as having a likely Cancer.
Alex was devastated by the loss of BoBo but had to think of Jaffy, BoBo’s wifebun who had now been widowed. The rescue centre was re-contacted and Jaffy collected to be found a new husbun. For the first time, Alex made a request for whomever he may end up adopting, that whichever rabbit was chosen to be bonded with Jaffy, if possible, could have floppy ears like BoBo had. Jaffy returned with Dusty (named in honour after Alex’s father and Dunster House’s founder). Dusty came with his own horror story as well. He and his brother had been locked in a hutch which had been thrown away onto a rubbish pile for them to starve to death. Luckily a passer-by found them and took them into the rescue so they could be re-homed. Dusty is a brown and white floppy eared rabbit. He looks extremely dopey but adores company. Alex was back up to 9 furry house guests again!
The final part of the tale is the result of a phonecall Alex received from his vet. They informed him that they’d taken in a stray rabbit, but despite spending a couple of weeks phoning around, no rescue could take it, and as Alex was rather fond of rabbits, did he want to adopt it? Alex swore under his breath but was hardly going to turn down a rabbit in need, and picked up the creature that same day. Upon collection, he was presented with a yellow and crusty rabbit that turned out to be a boy. The fur on the top of his ears was gone, likely through sunburn, and he had clearly been living in his own mess, either as a stray or from wherever he’d escaped. Despite his state, he was a friendly rabbit. Due to how filthy he was, Alex took the decision to very carefully wash him (it’s not recommended that rabbits become wet as their skin is very fragile). Running a very shallow bath of about ½ inch, he plonked poor Poppet (as he was now named) into the water and gently started to massage the filth from his fur. This was only marginally successful and Poppet, who turns out to be a white rabbit, would take many more brushings and one more gentle wash over many months to start to become white again. Today, he is white and his ears are furry again. Poppet also needed neutering and was housed temporarily in the dog crate until he was also successfully bonded with Fluffle, Puffle and Paddy - a very rare instance of four rabbits living together.
Sadly, in 2016, one of Alex's original bunnies, Wiggles, passed away due to illness. After repeatedly battling dental and breathing problems, and undergoing surgery, the vet advised that Wiggles was in much pain and beyond kind help. Alex did all that he could for her, but knew he had to say goodbye. It was a tough decision, but as much as he would miss her, Alex had to do what was right for Wiggles, and let her go, leaving both him, and her husbun, Flopsy, heartbroken. Not wanting him to be left alone, Flopsy has since been successfully bonded with Fluffle, Puffle and Paddy, to make a happy foursome.
Alex's latest mission is to bond all of his 9 furry friends together into one rabbit super group.
You will note none of Alex’s vast warren of rabbits have been bred by him. Alex, like most, would love to have baby rabbits, but knows this is irresponsible when there are thousands of rabbits needing forever homes each year. All his rabbits, male and female, have been neutered to give them a better life and prevent breeding. You’ll also note that in all respects, in effect, his rabbits have chosen him, they’ve all been in need of homes, and irrespective of size, look, age etc., he’s adopted them and loves them. He would urge anyone to be the same. If you visit a rescue centre to find your rabbit, they will be able to tell you a little about the personalities, but ideally, a rabbit will mostly warm to you if he/she is loved and looked after. Whatever you can do to learn about rabbits will help you enjoy your time with your rabbits and will make them happier too. Alex has spent a lot of time learning about his pets and constantly sought to improve their lives. His natural enthusiasm for DIY, both at work and within the home, helps with designing new products. This ability and knowledge, along with the buying power that comes with running an international company, allows for the creation of an enclosure that would otherwise cost thousands for much less. This knowledge, coupled with his experience and passion for rabbits, enables the design of rabbit accommodation that specifically caters to the welfare and needs of domestic bunnies.