Rabbit Bertie in his pen next to a cosy white bed and a ball of hay

Lonely worlds collide

Bertie and Shortcake were sad and all alone until Blue Cross brought them together...

Bertie was one in an accidental litter and only a few weeks old when he arrived at our Hertfordshire rehoming centre earlier this year.

Rabbits are sociable creatures who need to live with their own kind to be happy and feel safe, and the most harmonious pairings are unrelated bunnies of the opposite sex.

And so, after spending more than six months all on his own while he waited to find a home, Bertie became downhearted and lonely.

Black rabbit Bertie in his pen at our rehoming centre
Bertie was feeling sad and lonely on his own

That was until white bunny Shortcake came along. At four months old, she was found abandoned in a park and had also been alone for some time at our Burford centre in Oxfordshire.

Matthew Pedley, Animal Welfare Assistant at Hertfordshire, says: “We decided to try and find Bertie a companion as he had been on his own for a really long time and sadly wasn’t getting any interest.

“We messaged other Blue Cross centres to see if they had a lonely female needing a friend and Burford replied saying they had Shortcake who, on paper, looked like a good match for him.”

Black rabbit Bertie next to new friend and white rabbit Shortcake

Shortcake was transferred to our Hertfordshire site and, once she had settled in, the team began the bonding process.

It started with scent-swapping, before letting them see each other from a distance, and then careful introductions over a barrier.

Eventually, the team was able to move Bertie and Shortcake onto fully-fledged meets, which gradually built up the time they spent as a pair until they were ready to move in with each other.

“They have been together ever since and are now very happily living together as ‘husbun’ and wife,” says Matthew, who oversaw their care.

Sadly, Bertie and Shortcake are only two of many unwanted rabbits we’ve helped in recent years.

Rabbits can breed from as young as four months old, and females can become pregnant again as soon as they have given birth.

Young rabbits can be tricky to sex, and it’s not uncommon for bunny purchasers to take home a pet of the opposite sex to what they were sold.

These reasons, together with rising numbers of bunnies being given up after lockdown, are contributing to a rabbit welfare crisis that Blue Cross is picking up the pieces of.

Matthew adds: “Many people don’t know that rabbits are social creatures who need to live in bonded pairs to enjoy a happy life. Single bunnies are lonely bunnies and living alone can make them depressed.”

— Page last updated 29/07/2022