"I decided to live with seven rabbits."
A bunny lover explains everything a human can teach a bunny: but especially vice versa.
"Living with seven rabbits is a beautiful experience. I don't consider myself their owner but a human who lives with them." Esther Burton, an interior designer and bunny lover, has been sharing her home for the past eight years with lapinos that have grown to seven a few months ago. Three of them, three females, she watched them grow up during the lockdown, a period in which she was able to get to know them and the rest of the colony, which has only two male elements, a young rabbit and an older one, more thoroughly. "The isolation allowed me to shape a project I had been thinking about for some time. This is how 515grams - the weight of a rabbit - was born, which more than a brand is a family composed of seven rabbits, seven designers, a veterinarian and a gardener, who take care of the well-being of humans and rabbits living in the same house through the design, creation and sale of innovative, personalized and sustainable products. We met Esther to learn more about this project and to understand what it really means to (con)live with rabbits.
What can you do with a rabbit and what is best to avoid?
Rabbits are sociable animals - they live in colonies - but they are also individualistic, very quiet and do not necessarily like to be petted. If they want to show affection to each other they lick themselves. They have precise moments and times when they want to be cuddled, they do not like caresses on the belly, but very much those behind the ears. How to understand if it is the right time to do it? They lower their heads to the ground.
How to make a rabbit feel comfortable in an apartment?
It is necessary to have a dedicated area, such as a cage that is always open. Remember that rabbits, being prey, always need a shelter and an escape route. It should always be kept in mind that they do not like loud noises, that they are animals not yet converted to the relationship so they must be "conquered" every day. Last tips: place a rug next to the kennel and hide the power cords.
What sounds do rabbits make?
We cannot speak of verses, but of sounds which are mainly three. They use a kind of gugugu when they are excited, they rub their teeth when they are satisfied and they tap their paw when they are afraid. This is why the rabbit in the Disney movie Bambi is called Drummer.
How can we recognize their emotions?
For example, if from their upright position on their two hind legs they drop to the ground on their side - they are called sfloppano - it means they are relaxed and want to be even more relaxed. If they raise their tail they may be intrigued, agitated or worried. If they assume the freezing position, meaning they pretend to be dead, it means they are afraid.
Is it better to choose a female or a male?
The ideal is to choose both, a male and a female and sterilize them.
What is really dangerous for a rabbit?
Being a lagomorph, and not a rodent, it has six incisors and is herbivorous. In its diet must not lack hay, fresh grass, green leafy vegetables, but few carrots because they are too sugary. Very harmful are instead animal proteins and foods rich in sugar such as chocolate and carbohydrates.
How did your love for rabbits start?
My parents met thanks to their passion for horses. At home we had dogs, cats, birds and goldfish. Never reptiles because my mother was afraid of them. My first real love for the animal world, however, was a Scottish shepherd. When I went to live on my own I felt the need to have a creature in the house that looked like me. It could have been a cat, but I have a kind of allergy to its fur, so I opted for the rabbit. Like me it is independent and is an eternal misunderstanding i.e. it tries to appear strong while in reality it is a fragile creature. I like rabbits because they have a strong character, because they are very soft but above all because I know they could live without me.
Describe your seven furry roommates to us.
It all started with him eight years ago, Napoleon, a tawny lapine, unsociable with a bad temperament. Isolde, blue eyes and long eyelashes, is the cover bunny. Lucilla, despite her angelic look, is the undisputed queen of the colony. Hercules is the alpha male of the house, terrible and unpredictable. Emma is small, black and never tired. Dorotea is the sweetness made in the shape of a rabbit. Leda, finally, watches over the whole colony, bringing peace.
How was the 515grammi project born?
For a long time I felt the need to share what I feel and what I have discovered living with rabbits. Thanks to them, to my team of designers, to the gardener Davide and to the collaboration with the Veterinary Clinic Modena Sud, national reference center for the care of unconventional animals, and in particular with Dr. Silvia Casali, I made my dream come true. 515grammi is a piece of my heart, my debt of love towards delicate and amazing creatures. By sharing my home with them, I have multiplied the space for myself.
What is the target of your customers and what is the "right" age to start taking care of a lapino?
Our clients are mostly women of all ages. There is no precise rule about the right age to live with a rabbit. It depends on the temperament of the child or children and above all on the will of the parents who must make a conscious choice knowing that they will have a new member in the family who will be welcomed respecting its nature.
Which products can be purchased in the e-shop of 515grammi.it?
For example, the Starter Kit that contains (also) a bowl, an ecological detergent, a hair removal roll and a package of 515grammi d'amore, a mix of ingredients created from a careful and exclusive selection - developed by a close-knit team of humans, rabbits, veterinarians and experts in medicinal herbs - that can be eaten/tasted by both humans and rabbits. Because in my opinion, relationships can grow just by eating together. In the future I would also like to create kits for birthdays, small gestures of love, sustainable and designed and made responsibly. The producers are all at km 0 and we collaborate with cooperatives of boys and girls with disabilities or small family businesses. Assemblages are manual, raw materials are certified organic and every year 1% of the turnover is donated to charity.
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