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Meet the bunnies with stories to tell

This little chap arrived at Nibbles in January 2017. His back story is a sad and all too common one. Hope was purchased from a well known pet shop chain on Christmas Eve, along with 3 other rabbits, as surprise Christmas gifts! He was handed over to his intended recipient Christmas morning in a plastic storage box with a bit of food. The family were anything but prepared and really didn’t want a rabbit. So, he made his way to us at Nibbles, to start his journey towards finding someone who was prepared and really did want him. He arrived without a name and we called him Hope. I often wonder what the fate of the other 3 surprise rabbits were and I always send up a little prayer that their stories ended as well as Hope’s did. Hope was vaccinated and neutered and placed up for adoption. It wasn’t long before he was snapped up as a potential companion for a recently rescued female. But sadly, this bond did not work out and she just didn’t want to have anything to do with him. By the time his new family admitted defeat, little Hope had charmed them all so much, that their only option was to buy a whole new set-up and come back to us to adopt another rabbit as a companion for Hope. Hope went from unwanted and unwelcome, to loved, cherished and spoilt and is still happily enjoying his life with his wifebun.

Nelly came into Nibbles’ care in May 2017. Nelly went on to become Hope’s beloved wife bun and both rabbits are settled and adored in their special forever home. Nelly’s story is different to Hope’s but still sadly all too common. Nelly and 20 other rabbits needed someone to step up and offer them the chance at a new life. These rabbits were housed in groups of 2-6 in 4ft double hutches, unneutered and fighting, and urgently needing rescue placements. Thankfully between Nibbles and the wonderful Alice at Windwhistle Warren Rabbit Rescue we were able to offer placements to all of these rabbits and get them the immediate help they so desperately needed. 8 of these rabbits went off to Windwhistle and the rest came to Nibbles. Nelly was one of these bunnies. Thankfully, she arrived injury free, but she was so nervous that she hid away for a number of weeks. Slowly she began to grow in confidence and she was soon vaccinated and neutered and looking for a home. It was not long after this that Hope’s family had admitted defeat on any chance of bonding him with their single female. But, they had fallen so in love with him that he wasn’t going to be coming back, rather another rabbit would be leaving us as a companion for him instead. I mentioned Nelly, and commented that I had called her Nelly as she was a real nervous nelly, prone to scarper at the slightest thing. Undeterred by her nervous disposition they came to meet her and just couldn’t resist giving her the happily ever after she so desperately deserved. This time the bonding went very smoothly and we were thrilled to get the news that Hope and Nelly were officially a couple. These days Nelly isn’t a nervous nelly and she has blossomed with the love and care of a devoted and patient owner.

Hope & Nelly in their forever home

Once again we have done our job and Nelly’s happily ever after is a truly heartwarming one. You may be wondering what happened to the other 20 rabbits, well out of the 13 who came to Nibbles, Marshall remains with us at HQ as a sanctuary bunny and he is happily bonded with Seren. We found an amazing home for the group of 6 sisters, who have taken over the hearts and yard of their new family. Lewis was with us for around 18 months before he was chosen as a companion for a recently widowed female. He now entertains his new family with his cheeky antics and is happily bonded. Barney and Faith spent over two years waiting for that special forever home, both had been returned due to failed bonding attempts and then, as if by magic, they both hopped off within the same week and shortly after we received the news that both bondings were successful. Which was incredible for both of them. Lori went on foster with Rachel, one of our trustees who did what she always did with foster bunnies and informed me that any adopter was going to have to pry him out of her cold dead hands. After this, Rachel officially sacked herself as a fosterer and now only takes in our sanctuary bunnies who she doesn’t have to part with and can love them for life. That leaves one rabbit and sadly he is still here, waiting for his own special happy ending after recently coming back to us due to a failed bonding. Nero is an older chap now and we think he would prefer an older and less active wifebun to enjoy his twilight years with.

Bonzo is one of the 125+ rabbits I was asked to help in December 2014. Yes, you read that right, 125+ rabbits needing help. This was one of the most unusual cases I have ever encountered in all my years of being involved with rescue. This was not a hoarding case, this was a genuine crisis as a direct result of the extremely limited rescue support for rabbits (and rodents) within West Wales. The family who owned these rabbits had been desperately seeking help for months and with every passing day the rabbits continued to breed. They started with 2 rabbits who had one accidental litter. Responsibly, they neutered dad just after the litter was born and had intended to keep the litter of 6. But when it came to neutering the 2 males from the litter, it all went horribly wrong. A long story short: poor advice from a vet, a loss of a job and other repair bills coming in, the boys didn’t get neutered quickly enough and they went on to breed with their mum and sisters. The family did urgently try to seek help but were simply turned away. The rabbits continued to breed, the family continued to search for help and the months ticked by. Finally they heard about Greenacres Animal Rescue in Haverfordwest, this was quite a distance from the family who were located in Carmarthenshire. But Greenacres was the first rescue not to refuse help and put the phone down. Instead the manager, Mikey, called me and asked if I could go and visit this family and get a feel for the situation.

I made arrangements to visit and see what we could do to help both the rabbits and the family get the situation under control. I will never forget the day I knocked on that door, which was opened by a very stressed gentleman and behind him a sea of rabbits came hopping down the stairs and appearing from every corner. I darted in before any got out of the front door. This family were trying to do everything they could for these bunnies and they loved every single one of them, but they were stuck in a situation that they simply could not get out of without immediate help. I have never come across such genuinely desperate people who had quite literally given up on ever getting help. The original assessment of 40-50 rabbits was clearly wrong and I knew I was looking at closer to 70-80 not including nursing litters hidden away under furniture, inside chewed out cases and cardboard boxes. Truthfully, we simply gave up counting at 125, so we aren’t really sure of the actual total. We had to do something and we had to do something now and I left the house promising that I would be back in touch with a plan. I contacted Mikey, and we both agreed that this was an urgent and all hands on deck situation and that I would start working on a solution immediately.

My first step was to look for rescues in West Wales. The family had told me that they had looked, but I genuinely thought I would find some where they hadn’t - WRONG! There were none, well ok not completely true, I found two ‘rescues’ who did not neuter, vaccinate, or homecheck and bred from the animals they rescued. So essentially I found none. My next step was to call RWAF and see if they could give me a list of rescues to contact. That phone call was what started the ball rolling and finding rescues all across the UK to take in some of these rabbits. I am sure you can all imagine what a huge task this was. I called the family to explain the plan and in truth they were speechless, they genuinely believed that they would never hear from me ever again and had gone back to feeling hopeless. But slowly and surely we started collecting rabbits, separating them and getting them off to genuine rescue placements. We paid for the neutering costs of the 2 males from the first litter and the boys were taken in to the vet by the family within days of me giving them the go ahead. During all of this I realised that one rescue in Haverfordwest, only able to handle a few rabbits at a time, just wasn’t good enough to cover all of West Wales. That someone had to do something to stop a situation like this from ever happening again. I thought long and hard about making the decision to open a rabbit and rodent rescue, but I kept coming back to the same point over and over. If not me, then who? So in January 2015 Nibbles officially opened its doors with still something like 90 rabbits needing rescue placements.

Mikka was found by a dog walker, hopping around a local wood. Luckily he was easy to catch and was taken to the vets as a stray. Enquires were made where he was found but no worried owner came forward to claim him. We can only assume that he was dumped in the woods as an unwanted pet. Domestic rabbits can't survive in the wild, they are easily picked off by predators such as foxes, or even killed by dogs. Setting a domestic rabbit free is a death sentence and Mikka was very lucky to be found and caught. He stayed with the vet for 7 days but once it was clear that no one was looking for him, Mikka needed someone to care for him. So the vets gave us a call and luckily we had an emergency hutch empty. Mikka had his first vaccination and we picked him up that afternoon.

He settled in quickly and although a bit shy to start with, he seemed grateful to be safe, dry and fed. Over the next few weeks he completed his vaccinations and was neutered before going up for adoption to look for a home where he could be bonded with an existing single female. It wasn’t too long before Mikka was snapped up as a potential husbun and it was pretty much love at first sight for Mikka (now named Harry) and his new love Hazel. Mikka’s story is much shorter than the other bunnies we have featured, but it is an important one. Nibbles is the only specialist rabbit and rodent rescue in West Wales, this really isn’t enough, but it is all these animals have. Without Nibbles, Mikka would not have had the rescue support he needed. We offer a ‘backup for life’ policy at Nibbles, meaning that any animal adopted from us, MUST be returned if the adopter is no longer able to keep them. This is part of the promise we make to every animal we welcome into our care. They will never find themselves homeless again and they will always have a safe place to return to if needed. By coming into Nibbles, we also ensured that Mikka was vaccinated and neutered before adoption. We have a detailed adoption process, which includes a homecheck to ensure that adopters can meet the needs of the animals they wish to adopt, and that they have carefully considered pet ownership.

Help keep the only rabbit and rodent rescue in West Wales open by signing up to make a monthly pledge of just £2. Your pledge will make it possible for Nibbles to tell the stories of many more rabbits and rodents and ensure that they all have a happy ending.

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