When I was pregnant, I was really worried about introducing rabbits and baby to each other. I needn’t have been, because it’s gone really well. They love each other!
The three rabbits absolutely adore the baby, and we’ve not had any trouble yet. She really enjoys them too and squeals happily when she sees them. She’s learning to stroke them and loves how soft their fur is.
They knew that I was pregnant. Barbara fussed around me a lot. Gingee used to enjoy putting his ear to my stomach. Ned just wanted extra cuddles!
Preparing during pregnancy
Before we even started to think about preparing them to meet the baby, we wanted to give them the chance to have a support network. They used to all live in separate rooms, but over the spring (baby was due in November), we worked hard at bonding them and getting them to share one bedroom. We knew this was going to be important both while I was in hospital, so they weren’t alone for too long, and when baby arrived and we had a bit less time.
Before the baby was born, we got them each a little plastic baby doll. It gave them a chance to sniff at something new, nuzzle it and chin it, and for us to remind them to be gentle.
I spent time with them in early labour, before I went to the hospital. I was on all fours on the floor, and Gingee kept stretching up to nuzzle the bump. They knew something momentous was happening, I think.
I had a long labour (38 hours!), so my husband and I were in hospital for a while. Fortunately, our hospital is walking distance from our house, so he was able to pop home a couple of times to check on them. We left them with lots of extra water and hay.
Actually introducing rabbits to the baby
We introduced them on the day she came home from the hospital.
She was in her bouncer and the rabbits got extra fuss and food. They ignored her for the most part. We had to pick them up to even get them to look at her!
She was so new but wanted to stare at them.
(She was so tiny! She’s grown a lot even in six weeks!)
But, if you know about bonding rabbits, you’ll know that it’s a good sign when they ignore someone.
Their growing relationship
Since then, we’ve just brought her into our routine.
Three times a day, we say to the baby, “Shall we go and play with our friends the rabbits?” She responds happily to that now!
We bring her with us whenever we feed them so they associate her with good things. She usually gets to lie on the floor with them while they eat and they’ve started leaving pieces of food for her, which is adorable.
Gingee has put his head down to ask for grooming from her a couple of times. She’s not quite got the hang of how to do it, but I’m sure she will!
When she cries, our leader bunny, Gingee, goes to patrol the area while Barbara comes to nuzzle and check she’s okay. (Ned is deaf, so doesn’t really respond to crying!)
We worried a bit about Gingee at first. He is so attached to my husband, and has been known to be jealous. We’ve been careful to make sure that my husband treats Gingee like the special bunny he is, and I often get to hold the baby a bit more while Gingee gets extra fuss. If anything, he seems happier than before!
They all like to get attention from each other. Baby loves it when they come up and nuzzle at her, and sometimes she cries when they move away. They like it when she touches them – Ned in particular. He’ll sit and look really proud, as if he’s saying, “Look, the baby is playing with me! Me! I’m the chosen one right now!”
The rabbits have their own bedroom, so they have somewhere to escape to where baby doesn’t go. They have their door shut most of the day, but we have three long sessions of food and playtime each day, so they don’t feel neglected.
I was really worried about how it would work out, but while they were a bit wary at first, I’ve never seen them binky as much as they have in the past few weeks!
She’s only seven weeks old and they’re already all so close. I’m so excited to see how their relationship develops as she gets older.