After our first few months of being newlyweds and living together, I developed this irrevocable yearning for a pet; since I was a little kid, I have always been surrounded by animals and it was somewhat difficult for me to live without one once I got married. My husband was determined to find us (me) a pet; he researched chinchillas, kittens, puppies, even monkeys! But each of those ideas never seemed to stick. Chinchillas are extremely cute and all, but when we went to look at them, we didn't feel as if they were right for us. As for cats: I grew up with cats, practically being my brothers and sisters, and I felt that my husband and I are too busy to give one all they need and want. Dogs---also, too much hassle. Monkeys? Too expensive and way more work than any of the others! For a while, we gave up on a pet and tried to forget about getting one, because it seemed like we had no options for our lifestyle.
We had just moved into a new house that had a spacious, green-grassed back yard that would be perfect for a pet! This is why we thought the bunny would be so perfect for us: he could run around freely and have his hutch beneath the shelter of our veranda. We of course did not already have the hutch for the bunny when we went to get him, so we figured that we could keep him in an enclosed space in our house for a few days until we had his hutch ready.
We arrived to get our bunny, and the picture of him did his preciousness no justice. He had big, googly eyes, and soft luxurious fur; a white-and-brown broken-coat with a half-mustache on his lips. In his cage, he kept standing on his hind legs for us to pick him up. He was so tiny in our hands; so tame and calm. My husband held him like a newborn baby and was already in love with his cuteness. We had no box or anything to keep him in, so I held his soft little body in my hands the whole car ride home. He snuggled up against my stomach and fell asleep.
While we drove home, my husband and I took turns trying to come up with a name for him. Finally, we came up with Phillip; such a princely, handsome, foresty name.
It was so exciting making him a place to stay. We laid down some newspaper and towels, set down a woven basket for him to sleep in and filled it with bedding, donated him some old cusions for comfort, fastened his water bottle to the wall, and gave him a food dish---all within the barricaded walls of upturned boards and frames, secure and sturdy enough to hold up even if he tried jumping out.
It was so fun letting him run around our house: on our hardwood floor, he would slip around on his furry feet and his long ears would bounce with his every hop. Although he was a baby and we expected him to have accidents on our floor, he was very good at holding his 'waste' and waiting until we put him back in his area. And if he did ever let a pebble of excrement-or-two slip, it would always be in a particular corner of our house. One thing I am especially thankful for, is how wonderfully simple bunny-poop is. It resembles a cocoa-puff; round, solid, and extremely easy to clean up (and basically odorless). You only need to sweep! It is glorious in comparison to other animals (like cats), who destruct the world when they have accidents. However, bunny urine is another story (but thankfully, Phillip has never had any accidents with that).
Days became weeks, and he was still in his enclosed area of our house (though we kept improving it over time as he grew in size and maturity). Within his space, he designated a corner for his bathroom-needs...which meant that without any training, I basically had a potty-trained bunny! I began researching it, and discovered that, like cats, bunnies can also be trained to use litter boxes!
The litter-box for a bunny was surprisingly easy to find, and despite the fact that the litter itself for a bunny must be special and non-toxic, it was easy to find as well! The litter I use for Phillip is Carefresh FreshSorb Natural. This litter is okay for a bunny to ingest, which, if you know bunnies at all, you will know that bunnies will nibble anything set before them. NEVER USE CAT LITTER!!! It is poisonous!
Potty training Phillip in this litter box took about a week and was super-easy and pretty fun, too. After a while of placing him in his box and petting him, he would begin to hop in there on his own (at first, he only did this for rewards, but eventually began to do it even when I wasn't around to reward him). He now knows when he does something I like, because he'll hear "GOOD BOY!!!" and receive some massaging of the ears or a treat from the fridge. He also knows the word "NO!!!", but sometimes pretends he doesn't.
My husband and I eventually found that Phillip does not need to have a hutch outside, and that it is much more fun keeping him indoors where we can see him all the time and play with him. Just like any indoor pet, Phillip obeys the rules of the house (usually) and has become extremely comfortable with our lifestyle and, also, surpsisingly social and loving. We, of course, have improved his living arrangement and have upgraded him to his own room! (Such a spoiled baby, but since we have the room to give, and since he is such a good boy, he deserves it).
He has his own favorite furniture he has learned to jump on and relax. Now, my husband and I are able to trust him and leave him with the house to himself, but only for a little while. He uses the litter box responsibly and protects the house when we are gone (when we come home, he is always near the front door, awating our return).
My husband and I give him his outside-time, but for some reason, he is not too fond of it. He only grazes lazily, as if he is bored. He gets plenty of exercise indoors; almost daily, he sprints as fast as he can and does fanciful leaps and airborne tricks. Recently, he has learned some games: chasing us, hopping in circles around us when he is hungry/needy, hide and seek, following us EVERYWHERE, and taking turns running and performing tricks with us (this includes us running and jumping in our house...very amusing and a great workout, haha). I have heard numerous people tell me that they have trained their bunny to play fetch, and I am excited to teach him that someday.
Phillip is our ideal pet. He does not demand too much work, but he is a part of our family. He now comes running when we call his name, jumps up on our bed as if he is allowed (pssh!), and gets jealous when my husband and I are cooking in the kitchen, on the couch watching movies, or doing anything that he can't do with us…we even had our family portraits taken with him. I think more people should consider having a house bunny for a pet, because it is low-maintenance, low-cost, and so much fun! Not to mention, bunnies are probably the cutest animals that you can have as pets! However, the one thing that bunnies are notorious for, is chewing. Supplying your bunny with ample chew toys, and even carrots, with help alleviate their teething sensation.
Like every animal, and even children, training a house bunny requires a lot of patience, sacrifice, and love. If you can offer both of those to your bunny, they will surely turn out as sweet and talented as Phillip.