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Multi-Maintenance
Marinell Harriman
 
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Most people who plan a multi-rabbit household seem intent on having all their rabbits live together as one big happy family. It doesn't always work out that way, and it's not so bad if it doesn't. It is possible to have multiple living spaces within a household and barely notice the partitions.

Four rabbits live in the front part of our house which we use as an office. Jewel and Chester occupy the floor, while Dexter, who is crippled, occupies a desktop above them. (Dexter has a new companion who has recently joined him on the desktop.) We interact with our office bunnies because we spend a lot of time in our office.

Teddy and Lilac run about in our bedroom and bathroom. They are there for us when we go to bed at night and when we wake up in the morning.
We have our first cups of coffee in bed, while these privileged bunnies have early-morning parsley.

Wally and Darci live in the breakfast (lunch) nook just off the kitchen. Even though this room is in an "elbow," it is light and airy, with windows on two sides. This is far enough away from the other rabbits that we can get by with a low gate that we can step over. We see Wally and Darci every time we get a coffee refill or a snack from the kitchen.

Each pair of rabbits acts as though they are the most favored by us and have the best accommodations. We like to keep it that way--8 favorites upstairs and 20 favorites downstairs in the fostering area.

Our basement is remarkably comfortable--cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We have replaced our cages with larger living spaces, which allow the rabbits more freedom and allow me to sit beside them and comb and groom them. Other conveniences located in the basement include running tap-water, a laundry tub, a washer and dryer, and the bunnies' refrigerator.

Bigger and Cleaner

We still keep four disinfected cages on our service porch as temporary housing (quarantine) for new rescues. All other living quarters must be accessible with a wide broom and vinegar spray--no little crannies or crevices to collect trash.

Synthetic sheepskin rugs (30x40) that can be thrown in the washer are the best floor coverings that I have found for older rabbits, who want comfort. My youngsters, however, rumple them up or chew holes in them rather than sit on them, so their spaces are furnished with sea grass mats.

Each living space has a large hay tub filled with layers of newspaper and straw or grass hay. Bales of hay are stored on skids under our house (high foundation). Bob hauls away the litterbox / hay tub dumpings every 3 to 4 weeks. City waste centers now accept rabbit manure mixed with grass as part of their "green" program with lower disposal fees.

Our management techniques have changed drastically over the years, but with the 28 rabbits we have now, maintenance has never been easier--even with 3 crippled rabbits, who require special care. Bonded companions help us out. They take care of each other.

There are many advantages to keeping multiple rabbits all in one large group. And there are advantages to keeping multiple rabbits in multiple groups. The point is that multiple rabbits can, with proper planning and care, be a very positive experience for all involved.

Above: A fenced-n desktop by a tree-shaded window gave crippled Dexter a new view of life--squirrels and birds and the man next door watering his lawn. Below: Four boys watch from their mezzanine, while Richard "marks" his litterbox at the edge of his territory. The hinged ramp on the right can be raised onto a hook, so that hayboxes underneath can be removed and the floor easily swept.


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