Mario's tenth birthday spurred me to do something I have been meaning to do for a long time -- I geriatrified his cage. Remember this post about Mario getting older? Ever since he lived in that smaller pen for a few days with no prison break attempts, I thought it would be great to get him into something like that full-time. It was so fun to just reach in and give him some love. Also, while I loved the linoleum as flooring for easy cleaning, it didn't have the traction he needed. I'd watch him grooming while his feet slid slowly out from under him. When we did those x-rays the other year, the vet told me he had arthritis in his back ("It would be really unusual to see a rabbit his age without arthritis in his back," she said) and I felt traction would give him more control and comfort.
Mario has been in a lot of different houses over the years. His original was a version of this:
The original was actually one panel wider in the front and was huge. He also lived in a two-story version of this when we did short stints in New Haven and Syracuse. I liked this set-up because there was traction on all the upper levels, got him exercising with the floor climbing, had a sweepable/wipeable floor for the areas he was most likely to make a mess, and also had an upper level window (in the above, the middle upper front panel swung open) where he would hop up to get pets.
|When trying to find the above two photos, I stumbled upon this one with Mario looking absolutely adorable.|
In our first San Francisco home, I also loved how he would usually nap on the third floor which was conveniently next to and at face-level for me when I was sitting at my computer.
|This was my view. Love.|
That first type of house was a b*&^# to take down or move, though. When we moved to our second San Francisco apartment, his old house was not going to be as convenient so we switched to a pen. I mentioned in that first post I referenced why I selected a 36" height.
This set-up works well but I always felt like it was such an eyesore and made it difficult to interact with him easily.
I eventually got him that wooden box to encourage some upward exercising. I would actually put his nightly carrot up on top of it so the first thing he would do when he went home at night would be to jump up there and check for his carrot.
|The new way to get pets in the puppy pen. Stick your nose out the bars. Ahh, that face!|
My husband graciously agreed to do a trial where Mario could live in our home like a cat -- litter box in the corner and free-roaming. While I would love to have him this way, I just can't trust him not to chew on something when we are gone. I have a good idea of the things Mario likes to chew on but every now and then he'll decide to take a bite out of something he ignored for *years* and then becomes utterly fixated on that item the rest of the day. There is no way to completely rabbit-proof the living room. For his safety and our sanity I didn't think free-range living was the way to go.
So I settled on this:
It is still a slight work in progress. I'm experimenting with different fabrics for the flooring since he has chewed some holes in the above. Thinking denim might work? Suggestions? I think it is big enough for his older gentleman activity level (he seriously sleeps all day), has good traction, and I am able to easily stop and give him some love. I am a little sad he can't have his wooden box anymore because he used to snooze under it all the time, but the box is probably slightly higher than the panel.
Given the fact he used to jump on top of the wooden box all the time, I find it fascinating he doesn't hop out of the above all the time. He has made one prison break, though. I was eating a banana for breakfast and he smelled it, decided I didn't give him his obligatory piece fast enough, and there was a rustle and suddenly a bunny materialized at my feet. I put him back in right away and made him wait a moment for his banana piece, and he has not jumped out again.
I am a little worried about this because Mario is a pretty smart rabbit. Once he knows he can do something, he knows he can do something. He learned how to open the bathroom door which is another post in itself, and he now checks it every single night to see if we've left it unlatched. But I guess banana was the only thing worth the effort of hopping out. Fingers crossed.