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Donations Doubled for rabbits like Fiver: the half-wild rabbit overlooked in rescue for three years

In a scary year that has been both isolating and lonely for so many people, the companionship offered to us by our pets has become increasingly highlighted and celebrated.

This year, as part of the Big Give Christmas Challenge appeal where all donations will be doubled, we are raising money to pay back the debt we owe these loyal, caring and faithful companions.

Never before have so many of us collectively felt the benefits that pets can bring to our physical and mental wellbeing.

Despite this, there continues to be a need for animal rescue centres for those animals who find it harder to capture the heart of a loving owner. Without a rescue facility available to them, those animals wouldn’t have anywhere to turn for shelter and care.

Fiver was a long-stay resident at the NAWT Bedfordshire branch. It took much longer to find him the right home than most rabbits in our care, but when he finally did find his home it was well worth the wait.

Fiver arrived at the centre as a baby three years ago with his mum, who had given birth to Fiver after she was impregnated by a wild rabbit. As you might expect, this left Fiver with some wary and independent traits that made him harder to rehome. This was exacerbated by the fact that he struggled to make friends with other rabbits.

At NAWT, we’ll never give up on a healthy animal. Once in our care, they will have a place to stay for as long as it takes to find the right home.

During his first two years in rescue, Fiver struggled to cope with the environment and became very stressed, despite all the work the team put in to make him feel at home. Eventually it was decided that he’d require foster care to improve his quality of life as he waited for that forever home to come along.

In just the first week of foster care with a member of staff, his behaviour completely transformed! He soon showed himself to be a friendly, cheeky boy who could be very sociable in the right surroundings.

Despite the improvements to his behaviour, Fiver continued to struggle to win the heart of a loving new owner. He remained in foster care for another year, with some potential rehomers being put off by his exotic background, which made him a half wild rabbit.

Thankfully, at the start of this year, he was finally spotted by someone who could see past his tricky background and wanted to take on the challenge of providing him the loving home he needed.

With just a day to spare before the country locked down in March, Fiver’s new owner Ceri took him home to start a very calm and gradual introduction process with her resident rabbit Smurfette.

Smurfette is a similarly strong-minded rabbit and isn’t particularly keen on human company, but at the time had been grieving the loss of her “husbunny” who she had recently lost. Ceri explained:

She loved being in a couple so much. She’s not so bothered about human company and missed her rabbit companion more than anything. From the description of Fiver, I thought there might be a chance that they could hit it off as he also didn’t seem to be as keen on humans.”

Fiver spent the first few weeks getting used to his new family by living indoors with them. The introduction to Smurfette was more gradual still.

The two rabbits first met in the garden, where one would be in the pen while the other ran outside. Then they would try living in different locations – the converted shed or the hutch – so that they could get used to each other’s smells. This process carried on for some time, until they ended up spending a couple of weeks living together, both inside and outside for stretches at a time.

Ceri said: “There were times when I did wonder if they ever would get on, but two weeks in the hutch seemed to be when it all changed.”

Ceri began to notice the pair going off to bed together and now they have both moved to the rabbit shed in the garden. A month on and Ceri says the pair are fully bonded.

“If they’re out in the garden and I go and have a little look for them, I often find them hiding under one of their favourite bushes flopped out taking a nap together. I’m so pleased for Fiver that he’s finally ended up settling here with us. He’s a lovely rabbit and it’s so nice to see Smurfette with another mate.”

Without an animal rescue centre available to care for him for as long as it took to find that perfect new family, Fiver may never have known the love and security of a home to call his own.

With your help, NAWT will continue to be here for animals like Fiver for as long as it takes.

Stories like this are an important reminder that no matter what is happening in the human world around us, our animal friends continue to rely on us, so it is our duty to protect and care for them.

This is why NAWT’s project as part of the Big Give Christmas Challenge this year, is to continue to improve the lives of homeless animals during the Coronavirus pandemic. From midday on 1st December 2020 – until midday on 8th December 2020, every donation you make to our campaign on the Big Give website will be DOUBLED at no extra cost to you.

Please help us in our mission to give back to all our furry companions, who have done so much for all of us this year, by supporting our Big Give Christmas Challenge appeal from midday on 1st December 2020.

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