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Category Archives: Coco & Cosette

Adventures in Bunny Proofing: Baseboard Protection

In preparation for a newcomer into our household (a baby in September!), we decided to do some rearranging of rooms. Coco and Cosette, who used to live upstairs, were moved downstairs, along with my office.  So now they primarily live in the kitchen / hallway, with supervised access to my office.

Rabbit under table

Coco in his new favorite spot under the kitchen table.

The house is an old Victorian with beautiful, intricate woodwork in the downstairs. It provides a multitude of wooden corners and edges that would be a rabbit’s dream to destroy.

Woodwork

Examples of the Victorian woodwork.

As we discussed in our Bunny Proofing article, baseboards will get destroyed if not protected. When Coco and Cosette lived upstairs, we mainly blocked off the baseboards with furniture and tunnels, and we also just let them go a bit. Periodically, we would sand them down and repaint them, as the upstairs baseboards were just 2x4s, not like the historic, intricate moldings found downstairs.

But when keeping the baseboards in tact really does matter, Mary Cotter of the House Rabbit Society and Amy Sedaris suggest tacking or nailing furring strips or 2x4s to the baseboards so the rabbits just chew those instead.  You can paint these to match your baseboards so they blend in a bit better.  (See our Bunny Proofing article for a video of Mary Cotter and Amy Sedaris.)

We liked this idea, but we were also looking for a solution that you could easily remove on a temporary basis (perhaps when having dinner guests, e.g.) and one that did not involve putting a lot of holes in the moldings.

We brainstormed a few different ideas, including using zip-tied storage cube panels that would run along the walls and would be attached by a limited number of hooks by the doorways. Furring strips zip-tied to the storage cube panels would provide a buffer between the fencing and moldings so that little rabbit mouths couldn’t reach the woodwork. This solution would allow us to remove the fencing (which would be unsightly) in a quick and easy way, and then put them back on as necessary.

But in the end, we decided on this solution:

Baseboard protectors

We used custom-sized wood panels (connected with hinges to accommodate all the different angles) attached to the moldings via Velcro strips.  The panels were stained to blend in better with the rest of the woodwork.  Because they’re held onto the baseboards with Velcro, they’re easily removable by us (but not the rabbits).

It’s been two days and Coco and Cosette have already gone to work chewing the wood panels. No surprise there. But the baseboards themselves are protected from further damage.

What solutions have you tried to protect your baseboards?

The Multifaceted House Rabbit

Living with house rabbits over the years has shown me that rabbits are full of surprises.

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They can be clumsy and clunky at times. In fact, often, their jumps off the coffee table remind me of this:

Corgi flop
(via Imgur)

But then they go on to exhibit feats of acrobatic brilliance.  Their binkies and Bunny 500s, with their exuberant choreography, are thrilling to watch.

bunnyproof4They can be extremely cautious and timid, tiptoeing and bowing their heads as they slowly inch forward to investigate a new sight or smell. Yet there are times of sheer audacity when they balance precariously on an unstable stack of boxes or the back of the couch.

Sometimes they make their presence known with thunderous gnawing on their cardboard castles and wooden toys, uncannily timing it for when you’re in the middle of an important phone call.

And yet, they have their moments of ninja-like skill. You go to toss something in the trash can and realize your rabbits are flopped by your feet.  How long have they been there? you wonder. Minutes? Hours?

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Contrasts like these are well-known to bunny people, and they’re a large part of why we love them!

Why Do Rabbits Have White Tails?

Brown rabbit

Unfortunately for Cosette, her natural brown coloring does nothing to camouflage her here.

Wild rabbits are well concealed in the brush by their brown coloring. But one thing gives them away – that flash of white from their tails as they’re bounding away. So why did rabbits evolve to have a white tail, and not a brown one? (Or a green one?)

Evolutionary biologist Dirk Semmann of the University of Göttingen in Germany thinks he knows the answer. Semmann believes the obvious, white coloring actually distracts and confuses predators as the rabbit darts back and forth. A predator focuses on the white tail during the chase, and then when the rabbit turns, the white disappears. It takes a second for the predator to regain focus on the rabbit after every sharp turn… and these seconds can add up to enough time for the rabbit to escape.

According to Semmann, “The idea first appeared when I was running,” says Semmann. “I met this rabbit; it was always running and turning at some point. That got me thinking about the problem.”

To test his theory, Semmann used a video game on a group of people which involved either a flashing, bright circle (the white tail) or a non-flashing circle that blended with the background. The presence of the flashing circle reduced the participants’ ability to “catch” it.

Learn more on Nature.com.