Mother of Wayward Rabbits

I’ve had rabbits for over five years. At one stage, and for quite some time, there were ten rabbits living in the back garden. I have learned plenty about rabbits, but one thing I haven’t learned is how to get them to stay at home.

Anyone who has rabbits know it’s hard to keep them penned-in. Before you even start, adding mesh to the floor of a hutch is horrible for rabbits. It is harsh on their hocks and leads to fur-loss, worn skin and infections. So no, I don’t do that. I use hutches and portable fencing enclosures.

When you have ten rabbits, all working together to get out of anything, they will manage that in one night of digging or gnawing and shift-work. I had found a hole right through an inch thick wooden wall that let rabbits escape once, and a tunnel right under fences to the neighbours garden on more than on occasion.

I kind of gave up trying to keep the rabbits corralled, partly because one fence on our property is poor too (they can fit right through the mesh) anyway and because of the aforementioned tunnel talents my rabbits have, many of my neighbours have got to know my rabbits as well. Quite frankly, those rabbits are smarter than me.

One of my main worries about this situation is that that the rabbits are travelling between neighbouring properties mostly because they know where the good food is. You don’t have to read Peter Rabbit to understand how much these animals appreciate a well tended, unguarded vegetable patch.

I’ve live in a mild state of fear every day that a disgruntled neighbour is going to knock on my door and present me with a bill for plant and property damage caused by these little blighters.

Pepper pausing to admire the pile of dirt from her latest round of tunnelling.

Pepper pausing to admire the pile of dirt from her latest round of tunnelling.

On Saturday morning I was enjoying a coffee and my audible book when that very knock came to my door. An older woman asked if I was “the one with the rabbits” and I thought, right, here we go. This is the day, it has finally arrived and I braced myself for the bollocking.

She said she was from the house behind ours and asked if I realised the little grey rabbit came to her house every day. I apologised but kept quiet about the black rabbit that always went with the grey rabbit.

I meekly claimed I couldn’t keep the rabbits on the property. The women went on to detail how she watches the grey rabbit visit each of the properties that boarder ours - five in all - all in the same order, and all at the same times of day. A rabbit is nothing if not a creature of habit.

I waited for it - the complaint - the bill - the outrage at the damage the rabbits had done. Lord knows they’ve damaged our back garden. They’ve ring-barked several trees to the point all our trees wear gaffer-taped collars now to save them from rabbit teeths and certain death. They’ve so many dug tunnels through the earth so the back lawn is falling down into tracks of tripping hazards. Given half a chance and head start the rabbits get into our vegie garden too, even if the gap in the fence around the garden seems too small for anything to utilise.

I apologised again; because I am sorry, I’m so sorry - if she knew the truth that they’re never in our property except to sleep. I see one right now in my neighbours property tearing up chunks of grass and chewing them into rabbit poo. Gawd even knows where the grey one is - the most talented of all the burgling burglars.

She said she didn’t mind them really and handed me a bag of carrots, wondering if the bunnies would like the reject carrots from her garden. Of course, rabbits love carrots and would love these carrots and thank you for the carrots and omg I’m not in trouble, would you like to come in for a cup of tea?

After she went back to her house I took a few of the carrots out to the one bunny I could see on the back lawn who cam close enough to snatch it before bounding away.

Lucky little bunnies; lucky me - I might just get away with this insecure rabbit housing situation a little while longer.