By Mary Esparra
| For the Times Herald-Record
Scanning Facebook recently, I came across a photo of Rex the Rex rabbit in a wheelchair. I was compelled to find out more about this poor guy at Reenies Rabbit Rescue in Salisbury Mills.
Rex, 2 years old, was surrendered to RRR in early August by someone who had got him from his family who had allowed Rex to play with the family dog. The dog meant no harm, but it played too rough for the delicate rabbit. Rex ended up dragging his back legs, unable to hop, and he hadn’t seen a vet yet.
RRR took Rex to a specialty vet, but x-rays showed no broken bones.
As time passed, Rex slowly improved. Gwen Kaiser, co-director of RRR with Doreen Dunn, puts him in his wheelchair every few days, but he prefers to try and hop on his own.
But this isn’t the end of Rex’s story.
A few months before Rex came to RRR, on Easter Sunday, April 12, Finch was born in one of two accidental litters that were surrendered to the rescue. Their parents had been misgendered as babies. Finch was the runt of his litter and also had a mysterious condition that left him temporarily paralyzed.
“Then he started moving again,” said Kaiser. “He almost died with the paralysis, and I made him a promise to encourage him to live. ‘If you make it Finch, you can stay here forever.’ His eyes opened wide, and he looked right at me with some life in him. He understood that. He has to stay.”
When Finch was put in the same room as Rex, something miraculous happened. Baby Finch jumped into Rex’s pen.
“He jumped over his enclosure to be with this other paralyzed guy,” said Kaiser.
Although Finch has free reign of the room, he’ll only leave Rex for short times to eat, hop around or visit with Kaiser. They munch hay together, and in return for his company, Rex grooms and kisses Finch.
“Rex has had a huge turnaround,” reported Kaiser. “Now he uses one leg to hop on, and he drags the other. We hope eventually, he’ll start hopping on both. It was probably nerve damage. He’s on a lot of natural supplements and had some energy healing work done.”
Finch will always live at RRR, and Rex is still recovering. Neither are available for adoption at this time.
“Their special friendship may be helping them heal,” said Dunn. “The love they show each other is a beautiful thing.”
RRR is in desperate need of Carefresh bedding for Rex, which is made of natural paper fiber, more absorbent and comfortable than standard newspaper, which is also needed, that Kaiser uses for most of her rabbits. Monetary donations are also needed to care for Rex and Finch and can be sent to Reenies Rabbit Rescue, P.O. Box 2, Salisbury Mills, NY 12577 or call 591-7751.
Life span: Average 8-12 years.
Personality: Rabbits do not generally like to be held. Relationships with bunnies take time and patience. They are a prey animal, everything is a danger to them, including you.
Vet care: Choose rabbit-savvy vet and schedule a wellness visit as you would a dog or cat. Spay/neuter your rabbit or find a low-cost clinic.
Indoor: Rabbits can free-roam your home or have their own room, provided you have bunny-proofed wires, wood trim and rugs. A puppy exercise pen with a step through gate, placed on a waterproof floating linoleum remnant, provides a good habitat. Cages are not recommended.
Spay/neuter: Since it is quite difficult for anyone to accurately identify the gender of bunnies at a young age, it is essential to alter them, even if you are told their gender. Rabbits are always fertile, and a mother can get pregnant the day she gives birth. Most shelters don’t accept bunnies.
Outdoor: Bunnies should have a hutch inside of a weather-proof, predator-proof pen. Hutch door should be left open so bunny can roam at will in pen. A 10-foot by 10-foot dog kennel with a secure top and wire bottom is necessary.
Food and fresh water: Proper diet is 80-90 percent hay, available at all times. Rabbits’ teeth never stop growing, and hay grinds them down preventing them from painfully growing out of the side of their mouth. Sometimes long teeth are genetic and will always need filing, under anesthesia, which is expensive. Hay also provides fiber. Diet should be supplemented with daily fresh greens and only a quarter-cup of pellets per rabbit (not free-fed like a cat), based on weight. Never buy pellets with seeds or dried fruit; it leads to obesity and messy poops. Rabbits should never be without food.
For more bunny care tips, go to reeniesrabbitrescue.weebly.com. For RRR adoptable bunnies, go to reenies.petfinder.com.
Provided by Reenies Rabbit Rescue.