When Calvin arrived at my house a year ago from a shelter, he was rolling uncontrollably and his head was severely tilted. His body was contorted and twisted, and he rolled continuously in one direction for several hours. When he was upright, his head tilted greater than 90 degrees to the left – nearly upside down.
We set him up in a 25″x16″x15″ cage with a top-opening lid. To keep him from rolling, we wedged him in tightly and securely by placing a tall-sided litter box inside the cage. We lined it with towels, then added a layer of fleece fabric over the towels to wick away moisture. We kept him propped upright on all fours by placing rolled-up towels all around him to keep him from rolling uncontrollably and hurting himself. He spent the first two months living this way, occasionally coming out for exercise. Many times he needed bathing (a major challenge) since he was rolling around in his urine and feces for much of the day. There was no room for him to move in the pod, so we took him out twice a day for exercise, for at least an hour at a time, holding a hand on his back end while he hopped in order to prevent him from falling over and rolling. We built him a special exercise area. For flooring, we put down 3 long rubber-backed rugs, forming a 5’ x 5’ square. We then covered the area with a washable fleece blanket and padded the perimeter with window-seat cushions and old pillows propped up against a low exercise pen.
After six months of treatment, Calvin was moved to a new, larger padded pen area, where he can now run around 24 hours a day, unattended. He does an occasional roll when he’s excited about something, but for the most part he acts like the other bunnies. He even has a cardboard tunnel to run through, but instead of a round tube, it’s square. He shows off by zipping through it repeatedly while running his track, and he can now run very fast.
We never held the expectation that Calvin’s head and neck would be perfectly straight, but instead, what we hoped for was for him to be left unattended without rolling. That is now the case. He squirms and twists when we try to hold him, so we rarely pick him up. Instead, we sit on the floor with him to snuggle. He nestles up close to us, gives us kisses, nudges for pets, and generally wants to be with us as much as possible. He is currently free of any ear issues, thanks to all of the medical care he was able to receive through the Sanctuary Sponsorship program! He will continue to have vet checkups every few months.
Calvin now has a best friend, Puff — another Sanctuary rabbit — to lean on.