FAQs

All the things you wanted to know about keeping a rabbit on a children's ward but were too afraid to ask!

Where do you keep her?

In the summer we keep her in our outside play space. We have converted an old children’s play house into a big house-hutch for her.
 
In winter, when it’s really cold, we bring her inside and keep her in a smaller hutch under the desk in the doctor's office.  She also has a little space in the ward seminar room if the doctor's office gets too busy.

Do you need outside access?

Not necessarily. Rabbits are happy to love indoors as long as they have some pace to run around freely for some hours of the day. There are ways round it – you could use a ward seminar room or any enclosed space – there tend to be are lots in hospitals.

Who looks after her?

We all do! Of course though caring for her need clear lines of accountability. The play specialists and the ward doctor (the foundation year doctor) take main responsibility. Her name is on the ward list of patients so she doesn’t get forgotten. The attending consultant makes sure every day that someone has checked on her.

Who feeds her?

The junior ward doctor feeds her every day and makes sure she has water. One of the consultants buys food for her and it is kept in the doctors office.

Does she need outside access?

Not really! But it helps. She just needs to have a space to stretch her legs.

What about Health and Safety?

We were worried about this so we had the situation reviewed by our microbiology team who said it was all OK and that the risk form an infection point of view was very low.

Who takes her to the vet?

There is one main consultant who has responsibility but several others who are very supportive and who would take her. We took her recently in a carry basket – so you need one of those. One of the consultants recently cut her nails – being a vet isn’t so different from being a paediatrician!

Who pays for her food?

The consultant who has overall responsibility for her. The junior doctor communicates if more is needed. Otherwise you get into spending hours of time trying to get some chit signed and authorised. Rabbits are very cheap!

Who brings in vegetables?

The consultant who has overall responsibility for her and the junior ward doctor (F1).

Where does she go?

She isn’t allowed to run free but supervised she can go anywhere except on the beds. She wee’ed and poo’ed on a bed so rightly the nurses have banned this (they are the ones changing the sheets after all!). Patients can sit on a chair with her on their lap - she loves cuddles. Of course if it wouldn’t be good for a patient she is kept away.

Are many people allergic?

No – not really. Of course we ask them first! And if they do have a reaction they are in the right place to get treatment!

Who gives her water?

The ward team of doctors – that’s why she is on the patient list.

What are the downsides?

Every situation has downsides. Downsides to a ward pet really depend on whether the ward team like pets/rabbits or not. Obviously someone has to take responsibility for her all the time so if they are on holiday that needs to be handed on. The play specialists, the nurses and the doctors all have to share looking after her. The food stacked up on in the doctors’ office can be a bit messy – but we work hard to keep it tidy. Holly took a bit of time to learn to poo and wee in only one place. She now does so it is easy to clean up – but someone needs to clean up the poo and wee. Once she wee’ed on a patients bed and we had to change the sheets – but that’s OK ! – the patient loved touching her and it helped them get better.

How do you limit contact?

We decide on a whole host of factors but we do often put Holly in her large house/hutch so that she can get some time away from marauding children/parents/staff.

How much do we spend on Holly?

Each month, we currently spend the following on Holly:
  • Hay - £2.50
  • Straw £2.50
  • Pellets £5.00
  • Fresh greens £12
Total: £22.00
 
This is a rough estimate and may vary from month to month, but about £250 a year.
 
This is without any vet bills or equipment.
 
 

Working on it!