The Yorkshire Vet, Julian Norton spends some time with Boris the rabbit who is defying his age
In the sunshine of early May, he has involved himself with some gardening chores, with great enthusiasm.
He spends his evenings and nights in his double-decker hutch and his days outside in his capacious pen on the grass, with a tube to run through and various levels to sit on to keep things interesting.
However, if we are all at home and the gate can be kept securely locked, he is allowed out to run around the garden, investigate flavoursome bushes (his favourite is a Hebe) and relax in the sun.
He’s an interesting character, verging on the completely dozy.
We acquired him as a rescue a few years ago, after someone found him and handed him into the practice. We have no idea how old he is, but our best guess is about seven, so quite old.
He and our other rabbit Luna truly loved one another, but sadly we lost Luna last year, leaving Boris by himself. Luckily, he is easily pleased and happy in his own company.
He was most helpful today with the process of removing an overgrown herbaceous plant, which left a large hole in the shrubbery.
When he thought no human was looking, the floppy lop took himself to the middle of the patch of soil, where he would dig furiously – like only rabbits and terriers do – before stopping and throwing himself flat on his side, as if he’d suddenly had a heart attack.
He would lie motionless for a few moments, then would wriggle himself into an upright position before repeating the same trick on his other side. He seemed to be enjoying himself. What Boris didn’t know was that we were all watching from the kitchen, laughing our heads off! I often wonder what goes on in the heads of our pets.
Fortunately, he was not interested in the reseeded patches of lawn, apart from performing some excavations of his own around the edges, but Boris became very animated when the Scabius flowers were planted.
He liked the taste of the leaves as well as the flowers. Anne quickly erected a rabbit-proof fence to keep him at whiskers’ length. The best bit of his day though, was a brief foray into the vegetable patch.
This is usually a part of our garden where Boris is not allowed to go, so he became excited the moment he hopped through the gate. Everyone knows that a rabbit in a vegetable patch can lead to disaster. Anyone who grew up with Peter Rabbit and The Flopsy Bunnies is well-aware of the peril. But Boris was not distracted by lettuces nor radishes (which had not yet been planted).
It was the sight of the newly leafy parsley in the far corner that made his rabbit eyes light up and he made a beeline for the herb. Peter Rabbit would have been proud!
Later, I sat with him and helped pluck and brush away some of his winter coat. He is getting quite stiff these days and struggles to groom himself properly, so we need to keep a close eye on him. His looked much smarter by the time I had finished and there was a satisfyingly large pile of white fluff on the grass: a perfect material for lining birds’ nests.
We’d all had a nice day, enjoying the warmth of springtime. On the newly mowed lawn, as the run was dipping low, Boris continued to hurtle about with bursts of energy which defied his old age. He leapt up in the air with nifty side flips like a young lamb.
The Yorkshire Vet continues on Tuesday evening on Channel 5 at 8pm.