Rabbit games – our favourites #barbarablogs

Barbara Rabbit

Hello everyone, it’s me, Barbara Rabbit, here again! As you may know, I write a weekly post here – you can find the older ones here, under #barbarablogs.

Like all bunnies, my brothers and I enjoy a few simple rabbit games. You’ve probably realised from reading my blogs that rabbits are incredibly intelligent. We need a lot of mental stimulation.

My brothers are both younger than me, and, I mean nothing rude by this, but Ned might not be quite as smart as I am. Gingee is pretty clever, but Ned doesn’t always pick things up so quickly. So we all have different needs when it comes to games. Our parents are pretty good at playing to our strengths and finding games that work for all of us. We’re quite lucky. (Don’t tell them that. I don’t want them to get complacent.)

Here are some of our favourites!

Fingers through Bars and Fingers round Ned

These are two of Ned’s favourite games.

Fingers through Bars needs him to be inside a cage, and a human will wriggle fingers at him. He’ll hop around on his hind legs all excited and cute. I don’t quite see the appeal myself.

Fingers round Ned is a game only daddy and Ned can play. Apparently our mum just isn’t very good at it. What you need to do is circle your fingers around his head and he’ll bob his head around like mad. Because he can’t hear very well, I think he really enjoys games where he has to look at things.

Climbing on Humans

Ned and Gingee love doing this, and I’m getting better at it too. It was quite difficult for me at first, because I couldn’t work out quite how to get up onto a human. It turns out you need to push with your back legs, rather than pulling up with your front legs! Once you remember that, it’s easy!

If you’re very brave and have a fun human, he might even move along the floor a bit while you’re sitting on him. Gingee really likes this.

Surprise Rabbit

Such a simple game, but so much fun. Sneak up on a human. You can climb on them or not, but you just need to appear really suddenly – you can either do it by walking quietly and slowly or by running at full pelt. It’s so much fun to watch them be startled!

Box

Box is a really fun game, and there are so many variations. We have loads of cardboard boxes right now, which I hear is because my parents are having a human baby and keep on ordering things for it online. But the best part is that most of the empty boxes end up in my room!

The rules of playing Box can be as simple as just climbing into the box, sitting there for a bit, and then getting out again. Sometimes you can hide in there, or wriggle yourself right to the back, depending on the size of the box.

But the best way to play Box is to get food involved as well – as is the way with all the best rabbit games! Sometimes my parents will put chopped up apple or little carrot sticks in a box and cover them with paper or cardboard, and we get to forage for them. It’s so much fun!

Plastic Baby

This is a new rabbit game. Our parents have bought us some little plastic babies to prepare us for our new human baby. We get to groom them while our parents tell us how good we are.

I really like licking the plastic bits of them, and they have yummy clothes to gently nibble. There are three, one for each of us.

Explorers Under the Bed

It’s really self-explanatory! If the humans will let you, go under their bed and explore!

I don’t usually find anything under there, but I really like being in the small space. Sometimes it is a bit of a struggle when they want me to come out, though. They’ve sent Ned or Gingee in to get me before now.

 

Stairs

Now, this isn’t a game that I’ll play. I don’t like the stairs, and if I have to go up or down them, someone has to carry me.

But Gingee really likes playing stairs. He says that the stairs lead to lots of other fun rooms and that there’s nothing quite as fun as dashing down them and then zigzagging back up. Ned does this really clever thing where he can jump up about five steps in one go, as well. He landed on our mum’s big belly last night and she made a really funny squeaking noise, and it was brilliant. What a great twist on Surprise Rabbit!

Finger Nibbling

This is one of my favourite games. It seems only fair – my daddy cuts my claws, so I should help to keep his nice and short too, right? He’s very brave and doesn’t squirm too much, although I think I have got his skin a few times. But sometimes that happens when he does our claws as well!

The best time to play this game is either after he’s cut up an apple for me, so his hands taste like apple, or after he’s eaten some yummy human food. I like it when he’s had Marmite because it makes his hands taste all salty. There was also a time when he’d had salted caramel and that was amazing. You never quite know what the situation is going to be, so I’d recommend testing this out on a regular basis.

Fellow furry friends, what are your favourite rabbit games? Humans, what do you like to play with your rabbits?

Until next time!

Barbara Rabbit xxx

9 months pregnant: a ticking bomb!

9 months pregnant

So, as you may have heard, I’m 9 months pregnant. Really, really pregnant. The kind of pregnant where people stop me in Tesco and tell me I look like I’m about to pop. (Or, conversely, “You don’t look very far along at all! You must have your dates mixed up!” There’s no pleasing some people.)

It’s a really weird feeling.

9 months pregnant – the good

I’m enjoying pregnancy a lot at this point. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve had a difficult time at various points during the pregnancy. And I don’t think you’re meant to enjoy being 9 months pregnant. But it finally feels like I’m getting good at this!

I like the shape of my body. I may never do pregnancy again, and I’m enjoying not sucking my stomach in. It’s expected that I have a huge belly at this point and that’s very liberating. Okay, I don’t have many clothes that fit any more, but the ones that do are very comfortable!

Now that I’m on maternity leave, I feel pretty well rested and that makes a huge difference. It also means that I have a lot less stress in my life.

I love feeling the baby move. It’s like we have this connection that no one else does, and all that will change after the birth. Baby will belong to other people as well, then. I love that right now, I’m the one that knows the most about her. I’m the one that knows exactly what she likes and doesn’t like.

We sit and listen to a lot of Disney music on Spotify right now. She loves the Moana and Frozen soundtracks and wiggles around like mad.

If my husband sits down next to me, she scoots herself over to be near him, which I absolutely love.

Every night, I have a bath and just watch my belly move. I never really liked baths before, but in the last month or so, my feelings have really changed. I’d have three a day if it wouldn’t push our water bills through the roof! Fancy baths, too – I’m getting the candles and the lavender oil and the bath salts out.

9 months pregnant – the bad

I feel like a ticking time bomb. That’s a very odd feeling.

Every time I make plans with someone (pretty much just my mum or the midwife, I admit), I’m prefacing it with “If I’m not having a baby then.” It’s so weird to know that baby could just show up at any point!

I’m overanalysing every tiny twinge I feel. And oh, are there twinges! Like clockwork, every night, after tea. Suddenly I’m ridiculously uncomfortable, thinking, yep, this will happen tonight. Then I get in the bath and it stops. This morning I was up at about 4.30am thinking, something is happening. By 5am, all calm again. Right now, I’m feeling incredibly comfortable, so who knows. Calm before the storm, maybe?

Every time I wave my husband off to work or when he pops out to the pub or wherever, I’m very aware that I could be summoning him back midway through the day so we can go to the hospital.

I’m a planner, so this limbo feeling is rather odd!

9 months pregnant – the ugly

I know I said I’m really liking my body, but my belly button is kind of gross! It’s obviously turned inside out by now, but it’s got a weird little brown stump in there. I’m not going to share a picture because, well, ew. But yeah. Pretty ugly.

How did you find being 9 months pregnant? Am I the only crazy one who’s enjoying it?

 

Barbara the rescue rabbit

Barbara deals with GI stasis

I’ve written about how we came to adopt Ned and Gingee, our first two bunnies, before. And Barbara, our rescue rabbit, has her own regular section on this blog! But I’ve never really talked about how she came to live with us, and her story.

The first thing about Barbara is that we don’t know too much about her history. We know that she is the softest of all three of our rabbits, that she loves apples more than anything, that after she’s had her claws clipped she needs to nibble your nails in return… but we don’t know how old she is. It’s strange to have a family member that we love so much and yet so know so little about her.

We first met Barbara in November 2016. Ned and Gingee had lived with us for over a year by that point. They fought all the time so lived separately – Ned upstairs and Gingee downstairs. We’d pretty much given up hope of bonding them.

Barbara was living at Pets at Home, with Support Adoption for Pets. I noticed her a few times when I went to buy hay or food. She had a sign up next to her cage saying something like:

Barbara the rescue rabbit

My name is Barbara.

I am a rabbit.

I have been in this store since March so the charity is trying to find me a loving home.

Who calls a bunny Barbara?! What kind of name is that for a rabbit? (It turns out it’s very good marketing! It got her noticed.)

She was this massive (compared to the boys), grumpy, sleepy floof. Easily noticeable.

But I absolutely did not want a third rabbit. We had Ned and Gingee and they needed a room each and were clearly never going to bond. We were at our limit.

So I kept on seeing her, hoping someone would adopt her, and going home again. I wanted her to have a home, but I didn’t really see that it needed to be our home.

I mentioned her to my husband, just in a passing text. “You’ll never guess the name of this rabbit that’s up for adoption!”

And, because he knows me probably better than I know myself, came back immediately. “Do we want her?”

… Um. I don’t know. I hadn’t really considered adopting her as a serious possibility until that very moment. Sitting in my office, I pushed my chair back from the desk and thought for a moment. “We’ll talk about her later,” I replied, eventually. “We’d need to find out more about her.”

So that evening, we sat down to talk about Barbara. What would we need to know? What should we take into consideration before making the decision whether to adopt her or not?

  • Could she live with other rabbits? Was she likely to bond with anyone else?
  • How old is she?
  • What was her health like? We already had one special needs bunny in Ned – in one way, that meant we knew what to do and support a frail rescue rabbit, but in another, it meant that we were already stretched fairly thin.
  • Why had she been there so long? Why did no one want this poor girl? Nearly nine months is a long time for a beautiful bunny to wait for a new home.

We decided that I’d go into the shop tomorrow and ask the questions. Find out a bit more about her, and then we’d make a decision.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been so nervous as when I went in to talk to someone about her. Some time in the last few days, my feelings about her had completely changed and I was suddenly petrified that she’d have been adopted. “That’s okay,” I tried to reassure myself. “I just want her to have a home. It doesn’t have to be with us.” I was lying to myself. Suddenly I wanted to get to know this big fluffy bunny much better.

I needn’t have worried. She was still there. Still big and fluffy and grumpy. And the staff were thrilled that we were asking about her.

Here’s what we knew:

  • They wanted her to have other rabbits for company. So far, she hadn’t got on well with any, but they thought that she’d do well with a boy who might be a bit compliant as she seemed rather bossy. (Maybe Ned, I suggested.) They’d tried to bond her with a few, but no luck.
  • They thought she was about three years old, maybe a bit more.
  • She was fairly healthy by then. However, when she’d come to them, she’d been neglected and abandoned. Her claws were long. She walked on her heels so had sore hocks. She was so thin you could see all her ribs. She’d never gone to the vet. Her teeth were bad and she had to have them filed down. She hadn’t been spayed so had cysts. She was in pain and was very aggressive. Her tear ducts leaked (like Ned!). The charity had paid for her vet treatment and she was now the picture of health.
  • She hadn’t been eligible for adoption the whole time as she’d been so sick. Now that she was, they wanted to make sure she went to a home where her new humans knew about caring for special rabbits.

Well, it wasn’t quite what we’d expected, but we certainly knew we could care for her. We were already taking care of Ned’s bad eyes, and wiping a few more bunny eyes would be easy enough.

My heart was breaking for this poor girl who had had such a rough time, when our boys had everything they wanted. How could we not pursue this further?

They suggested bringing Ned and Gingee in for a date to see if everyone got on. So, that weekend, the boys hopped into their cases and we drove over to properly meet Barbara for the first time!

Barbara meets Ned!

I won’t say it was all plain sailing. We didn’t all bond instantly. It took until April before all three rabbits were living happily together in one room, and Barbara came home on 12th December.

We’ve had some health problems, too. At her first vet visit, they noticed her teeth needed filing again, and we learnt that she’s not good with anaesthetic. She takes a very long time to wake up.

She developed some arthritis in her elbow. With medication, all of the problems related to this have cleared up, but we worried for a while that she might need one leg amputating.

We think she may actually be older than three. Eight? Maybe younger? Her bone density is very low, which is either a sign of being an old lady or due to malnutrition in earlier life. We hope she’s younger than eight as we want to have a long time with her! Now that she enjoys life, we want her to have a long one.

Barbara moved in with us on the day that a dear friend of mine passed away, and I had a difficult time adjusting. She loved my husband from the start, I think, but she and I didn’t bond immediately. After how easy it had been for me to bond with the boys, I felt awful. She was so skittish and not as playful as the boys, and it was a strange transition for us all.

But from the time I found out I was pregnant, Barbara became incredibly affectionate towards me. We spent a lot of time cuddling on my bed, just me and her. She groomed me and I stroked her and we’d fall asleep together. My husband would take her back to her room once I’d dozed off. (Yay for first trimester exhaustion!)

And the more confident she got, the more she and I bonded. I can honestly say that we’re very close now. She’s one of my favourite people in the world! How can I help it? She’s grumpy, demanding, so intelligent, very sassy, and knows what she wants. She’s just fabulous!

Look at my beautiful girl. That confident face! She has come such a long way.

Barbara the rescue rabbit

The health visitor – what to expect?

health visitor

I know that health visitor systems vary by area. But in the run up to our first visit, I was eagerly looking for information on what might happen, so I thought I’d share this.

We’re at 37 weeks pregnant right now. Baby is head down and 3/5 engaged – yes, that means I’m waddling delightfully.

37 weeks, in our area, is also where you get your first health visitor meeting. The midwife lets the health visitor know that you’re expecting (she did ask my permission for this – I’m not sure if I could have declined) and then the wheels are in motion.

In some areas, I know that you don’t meet your health visitor until you’re discharged from the midwife. That’s usually when baby is a couple of weeks old. That’s when we officially switch to being under their care too, but they like to meet with mums (and dads!) to be before the baby is born. That way, it’s not a stranger coming round to peer at your newborn and ask loads of questions.

Ann, our health visitor, wrote to us at about 35 weeks, and we had our first meeting with her on Tuesday. I was 37 weeks on the dot – what good timekeeping!

How did we prepare for the health visitor?

Before she came round, I admit I was a bit nervous. You hear some horror stories, don’t you? People peering into your fridge and noticing that you’ve got some out-of-date grapes, asking all kinds of questions about your relationship and your childhood, judging your housekeeping…

I was particularly worried about the rabbits, to be honest. Although I’ve had nothing but positive responses from the midwife about having house rabbits, I know that some people still think they’re an oddity. I was worried that she was going to want to see them or judge us based on having them. And I always worry that the house might smell of rabbits – I had some nice autumnal candles burning just in case!

My husband and I did a lot of cleaning in the days before she came round! We literally even pulled the oven out to clean behind it. I think I’m finally being hit by the “nesting” bug right now. It was really good, actually, to have that slight apprehension, as it meant that we had a bit of a “deadline”. We told ourselves that the kitchen/bedroom/study/etc. had to be immaculate by the 17th. And we made it!

I also made sure we had milk, tea and coffee and some nice biscuits. What can I say, food is very important to this preggo!

So the house looked amazing(ish), the fridge was stocked and we were ready.

What happened at the first visit?

It wasn’t a house inspection at all! She didn’t even look behind my oven! Actually, she didn’t even go into the kitchen. She came in, we went into the living room (she didn’t want a drink) and had a nice little chat. That was it!

She asked us a few questions, mostly to check that she had all our details down correctly. What was our phone number, how did we spell our names, what were our dates of birth, that sort of thing. She also asked what we both did for a living, how much maternity leave I’m planning to take, whether we own our house and who lives with us.

Lots of talk about baby, obviously – how has pregnancy been so far, which hospital are we hoping to deliver at, was baby planned, etc. Do we have family or a support network locally, and do we have friends with children? Basically, is this the first time we’ve ever seen a baby and are we going to be completely on our own?

We talked about our hopes to breastfeed, and she told us about the breastfeeding support that’s on offer in our area – reassuring to know about!

It was just a really nice visit. I didn’t learn anything new, really, but it was good to meet her, discover I liked her, and know that we’re on the right track with everything. I didn’t feel judged at all.

What happens next?

Well, I get to go away and have a baby! Baby and I will stay under the midwife’s care for the first 11-15 days or so, and then we’ll be discharged to the health visitor. She’ll give us a call and arrange a time to come round that works for all of us.

Apparently the first post-baby meeting is quite a long one, with lots of paperwork and filling in baby’s red book.

From then on, we’ll see her for well baby clinics, weigh ins, etc. She’ll be a point of contact until baby is old enough to go to school. I can’t think that far ahead yet!

So that’s our happy experience so far. What have your health visitor experiences been like?

Barbara Rabbit’s ideal day #barbarablogs

Barbara Rabbit

Hello friends. As you know by now, I’m Barbara Rabbit and I blog here pretty regularly. (Every Wednesday, in fact.)

My life is pretty good right now. I have a lovely house, nice humans and two little adopted brothers. (Little in both senses. They’re mini lops so they’re small and they’re both younger than me too.) My human mum is on maternity leave right now too, so I’m getting more human time than I used to, and I enjoy that. Things are generally rather nice.

But, as always, they could be better! I don’t want my humans getting complacent.

I sleep and loaf for a good portion of each day. That gives me plenty of time to plot, daydream and plan. And one thing I like to dream about is what exactly I would do differently if I were more in charge around here. (We all know I’m a little bit in charge.)

Barbara Rabbit’s guide to the perfect rabbit day

Like all rabbits, I’m crepuscular, which means I’m most active around dawn and dusk. This is a problem in my house, as my humans are either up when it’s still dark (really?!) or they wait until it’s properly light. I feel at my most playful in between those times. I want to sleep when it’s night and sleep during the proper day as well. So in my ideal world, we’d all, including the humans, get up as the sun is starting to rise.

(And this means that no one would get up during the night and go to the bathroom or make noise in the kitchen. These things both wake me. However much I thump, they won’t stop doing it!)

As we all know, one of the most important aspects of life is good food. So I’d request a little snack, perhaps some apple, before I have my proper breakfast of pellets and hay. If I had my way, I’d have some apple with every meal. It’s my favourite thing.

So after enjoying a good breakfast (maybe even a breakfast without two brothers to try and steal my food, dare I dream?), I’d have a nice little run around and play with my humans and my brothers.

Then I’d choose to go back into my room – and I would be the one making that choice. I know that “Are you going in for a bit, Barbara?” sounds like the humans want me to make the choice myself, but I also know that it means I don’t have a choice. But because I’ll have been so good and gone in of my own accord, I think I’d deserve a fenugreek cookie.

Time for a lovely nap. I like it when it’s sunny outside and I get to sleep on either Gingee’s bed or the mat in the path of the sun. I also like it when one of the boys sleeps near me to protect me in the event of any intruders or other danger. That way I can flop properly and not have to worry about anything except intermittently waking up for some hay and water.

In my ideal world, I’d sleep most of the day then. That means that I wouldn’t get random interruptions from my mum when she thinks I might want to say hi. Word of advice: if I’m sleeping, I don’t want to say hi. Unless you’re planning to feed me, you don’t need to wake me. Come back in the late afternoon, please. (Unless Ned and Gingee are wakeful or loud and you’re willing to take them elsewhere for a bit. Do that!)

Time for another play, a bit of a run around – maybe I can go in the big bedroom and play under the bed for a bit. And then I’d have another meal. Pellets and apple again, I think. Or maybe some carrot sticks. Or both!

I like being groomed in the evenings. Either by one of my brothers or by the humans. So I’d have that, and then my brothers and I would sit together for a bit, and then maybe my parents would give me some individual fuss. I like it when they say “good girl”, and I like nose rubs and head scratches and being able to climb on top of them sometimes.

Then I know my parents need to go and have their own tea. That’s okay. They can go and do that while I take care of my brothers, and then come back and play with us again, and give us our supper. Again, I’d like a treat. Maybe this time I could have something less healthy – I had a chocolate biscuit once and I’d really like another one, please.

By about 11pm, I’m usually quite sleepy, so I don’t mind going back in to my room then. I don’t want to have to be the first one to go in though – make sure the boys are in first, please. Put them in their cages so I get some peace overnight. And then turn the light off and close the curtains so I can sleep soundly.

Doesn’t it sound like a lovely day? What would be your ideal?

Until next time, keep on eating plenty of hay and being healthy!

Love,

Barbara Rabbit