Here’s Bertie, in a photo taken a day before his official birthday. His actual date of birth is unknown, because he was found wandering on the street one day in May last year and handed in to the local vet. My curiosity was my undoing: one of the vet techs called me, I went over to have a look — and shortly thereafter returned home with a very small bunny in a pet carrier.
A comparison with the Underfoots’ “baby” pictures suggested that Newbunny, as he was then known, was about eight weeks old. If he had been bred for the Easter trade (very probable) he’d probably have been separated from his mother at a very young four weeks.
To cut a long story short, Newbunny settled in pretty quickly and learned how to use the litterbox without any trouble, nearly got murdered by Sooty, who was grumpy with a broken leg and succumbed to osteosarcoma a few weeks later, and endeared himself to Sooty’s brother Smudge. It was quite the achievement, given that Smudge was pretty grumpy too (but not in that ‘I kill U’ sort of way). Newbunny remained cheerful and explosively fast as he leaped and bounced on and around Smudge, settled down to groom him, and then presented to be groomed himself. He refused to go outside for nearly a year.
The pair remained comfortable together until Newbunny hit puberty and made Smudge’s life a living hell with his non-stop humping. It was around this time that Newbunny earned his new name: (Dirty) Bertie.
I was forced to separate them when one day Smudge lost his temper and dragged Bertie down the steps by the ear. Bertie landed badly and sustained a back injury which would later show up in X-rays as a kink in the spine, right between the shoulder blades. Around the same time he also caught an infection from Smudge which couldn’t be treated by Baytril: Smudge’s illness manifested as a retrobulbar abcess, and Bertie’s as pneumonia.
Smudge couldn’t be saved, but Bertie was treated by an exotics vet for both the pneumonia and the severe liver damage that had resulted from corticosteroid treatment for his back. It took two months of doxicycline (oral), pencillin (injectable) as well as a bronchodilator (oral) to save his life. Bertie was uncooperative, and I learned to dread the daily morning and evening sessions of medicine administration. May it never be necessary again!
Now that he has made a complete recovery, Bertie gets the free run of the house whenever I’m at home. This leads to situations like this one, described in an email to family and friends on 28th February:
Bertie the (failed) alpinist
So, late last night there was a sound of falling stuff which I declined to get out of bed to investigate.
This morning there was no pitter-patter of Bertie feet. He didn’t come to demand tribute. I vaguely wondered if he was sulking again and went about my business.
Still no Bertie.
I had a look around for evidence that would explain last night’s noise, and found it in the back bathroom where some stuff had fallen off a pile of shoes, boxes, dried sphagnum moss… but there was no sign of Bertie.
Off went the light switch, and I turned around to look elsewhere — and a soft rustle came from the within the bathroom.
Bertie had indeed ascended the pile, you see, and caused an avalanche. He was trapped under a box ledge against the wall, and if he hadn’t made the sound he wouldn’t have been found. It took some time to extricate the little monster, and the first thing he did was use the litter box and get something to eat and drink.
Oh, and there’s just been another avalanche in the bathroom. I guess I should get up and have a look.
Bertie sulks. If you ignore him in the evening, he’ll hide somewhere and sulk. And then he’ll come into the bedroom — all full of magnanimous forgiveness — in the early hours of the morning when he knows that you’re awake, and he’ll demand your full attention. No holding a book with one hand, chum. Pay attention to ME, and do it with both hands!
It is also unwise to fall asleep on the floor, because Bertie will become Your Barber. Your hair is very tasty, and he’ll eat it.
Happy birthday, Bertie, and many happy returns!
Date: 04-05March 2013
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens 1: Pentax smc DA 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 ED AL [IF]
Lens 2: Sigma 50mm 1:2.8 DG Macro
Ambient light only.
Conditions: heavy overcast.
Cropping and resizing in Irfanview.