I clicked the box “adopt me” on the NYC ACC Animal Care Center site for a beautiful “boroughbred” rabbit right before the start of the New Year.
Taking care of house rabbits was a delightful part of my life for about 5 years while we had Riley, our dwarf Hotot pictured below, and then his bonded pair, a dwarf Agouti, Clover, who came to us a year later. My daughter adopted them from the Manhattan ACC shelter, and when she moved from our place into her new apartment this fall, the bunnies went with her. I miss them more than I can say.
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
– John Steinbeck
Rabbits are fascinating. They run and jump and binky – hop while kicking their legs out. They are biters too, so you have to be gentle and keep fragile things out of their way – bunny-proof your place in a sense. Because rabbits are likely to have families pretty quickly, it was important to have them neutered before we had them bond together. Now Riley and Clover are an inseparable bonded pair. I visit them in their new home with my daughter, where they seem very happily adjusted and comfortable already without me. I miss taking care of them every day. I’m not so comfortable without all of them.
You can’t replace a daughter, but maybe you can replace a rabbit, I thought and looked on the NYC ACC pet adoption site daily for a few months. Bunnies find their way to shelters because they escape or are abandoned. This might be because they grow up, or bite, or are unwanted, or cannot be cared for anymore in their prior home – so it is important to be sure you are ready for a rabbit from the start. The Manhattan ACC shelter usually has about 5 or 10 rabbits at any given time that are up for adoption.
I planned to visit the shelter and adopt a bunny but found this isn’t as easy as it used to be before the COVID pandemic. I had to fill out an application online, wait, email, wait, and eventually found out that appointments were only available when scheduled on the website. The site had no appointments for January and none for any of the other months of 2022 either when I looked on the first of the month. But I checked back, found one appointment for two weeks out, and booked it at once. The email sent to confirm my browsing appointment noted that the rabbit I hoped to adopt might not still be there when I come by. Bunny adoptions are first-come, first-serve.
To browse the rabbits for fostering or adoption you have to have an appointment two weeks out, wear two masks, and be on time. If you are more than 10 minutes late, the appointment is cancelled, and they might not book you for another one. You have 30 minutes to spend there and then your time is up. I can’t wait to see how it goes and whether the shelter staff will let me take a rabbit home with me.
“Hallo, Rabbit,” he said, “is that you?”
“Let’s pretend it isn’t,” said Rabbit, “and see what happens.”
― A. A. Milne
Because bunnies are prey in the wild, they tend to be skittish, and they hide when they can. When frightened, they may sit absolutely still so you think they are not there. But they get used to people and become very social – enjoying being pet and playing with toys, especially those made of hay.
I have all new things ready for our new family member now, the toys, the blankets, the pillows, the hay and pellets, the hay basket as a litter box. The day I found out I would have to wait indefinitely to see the rabbits at the shelter, I looked at all the bunny things with an empty feeling, like would it really happen? I hope so and it is something to anticipate, to really look forward to in the New Year.
The Bunny Lady on YouTube is a great source of information about keeping house rabbits and she has new videos that come out every week in case you are intrigued.