We wanted to create this blog to share our personal experience & to help guide you to find a perfect solution to ensure your pets are well kept whilst you make a trip to see family/friends, sip margaritas by a pool or climb that mountain you’ve always wanted to conquer. No one wants to be worrying about their fur family during that hard earned time off or during a difficult life event that takes you away from home. Perhaps you have thought about offering to care for someone’s else’s Smooshie Faces. Rabbits & Guinea Pigs require far different care to that of a dog or cat… This blog covers a little bit about everything. 

I personally have tried a few types of care for my Rabbits over the years, i’ve even have taken them with me on road trips to locations a few hours away, this option was fine using a pop up pen for a short stay only. 

My first option above others is always family, if they are available and i know the responsibility of caring for my mob won’t impact their day to much, i ask. Typically my Dad or Step Mum will come to our place a few times a day, feed & give them cuddles. Space & play time isn’t an issue as they are in large pens, if you don’t have this type of setup up always consider the amount of time they will be confined as you may require more visits to ensure adequate exercise. I’ve found my best practice is to write everything down on a cheat sheet for my family to refer back to. I write all about their diet, when to feed & how much, vet & emergency plan, details of my location etc. I even go as far as to pre pack their daily food intake into portions. Family or close friends will typically follow your preferred way of care & will stay in contact closely…and the added bonus of all that is, it’s generally free.

In the past tried having someone come to my home twice a day to check on the buns (2 buns) via a pet sitting service app i found online – the woman was a training vet nurse student so i thought felt comfortable knowing she would be able to identify if the buns became unwell. What horrified me about this experience was, unlike my family, this person didn’t realise just how much i cared for my rabbits & the state of panic i reach rather quickly when i’m out of contact with them, i am a little over the top but they are like my children……soon as i landed at the destination i checked in – she didn’t respond for 7 hours. I was about to get back on the plane absolutely freaking out that something was going wrong or that she hadn’t turned up. Turns out her phone was out of credit & each time i rang she had just missed my calls, not receive my texts/email & her internet was also down –  i will always give people the benefit of the doubt but gosh this was hard to believe.  I absolutely know some people have had pleasant experiences with such services & this was just unfortunate, but i felt this service was generally not for me. For those who are wondering the cost of this service it was $25 per day. The only piece of advice i can offer is ensure the person you choose has been recommended by someone you know, or that you have a good sense of their ethic to avoid any issues like i did. Ask LOTS of questions. (Since this holiday I invested in a wifi camera so i can observe my buns at anytime – yes i’m that person haha)

As my bun family has grown (now 5) the commitment i require from someone else to care for them has obviously increased. The most difficult part about caring for small animals is they are less obvious when they become unwell – they tend to hide, become withdrawn which may not be notice by someone who isn’t bun or piggy savvy. Illness can become life threatening rather quickly especially in regard to rabbits – bloat / gut stasis. I still feel comfortable with leaving my mob with my Dad for a few days but in situations that i need to be away for longer i prefer to check my buns into a local holiday boarding boutique specific for Rabbits & Guinea Pigs. It removes the responsibility from my Dad, gives me peace of mind & i can relax knowing they are in the very best full time care.  

A few years ago I found the White Rabbit Retreat online and chose it because it was close to the airport & had good reviews – the owner run a online rabbit group, had many years of experience so i thought i’d check it out. To my delight my bun family were welcomed lovingly and i could see they felt relaxed in an instant. I was able to look around and inspect the pens to ensure i felt comfortable with leaving my babies. After departing I could contact them at anytime and was sent photos/videos regularly to ensure my calm state was maintained 🙂 I’ve now used this service 3 times and my mob are booked again to go in March this year. I now factor their stay into my holiday saving. People’s first question is often, How much does that cost? Like a lot of services within reason i truly believe you get what you pay for, it’s costs around $16 per day for 1 Rabbit – $26 for bonded pairs that share a pen. Im told that it is not too dissimilar to that of a stay for a dog or cat in a kennel/cattery. The expense covers their food and ”care”, it’s a more personal homely environment and i have peace of mind that they know how to keep them relaxed & can identify illness, so i’m happy to pay that amount. 

If you can afford to do it can highly recommend using the service of a quality bun / piggy specific holiday boarding boutique. Search on Google & ask in groups to find these businesses near you. Just do your research to avoid ”Fake it until you make it set ups”  What i mean by that terminology is watch out for people who mislead you with standards of care, never go by social media star ratings alone as reviews can be bogus. Anyone with nothing to hide will be happy to have you come to the property before you commit and will show you around. Places with high standards will have you sign paperwork that covers both you & them in difficult situations such as an animal passing away or it becoming ill. Medical history & emergency plans are a must. Vaccinations are required to be up to date.  Those topics can be confronting but far easier to have such discussions before unfortunate situations happen, rather than in an emotional moment. If you are considering caring for someone’s pets those are all things you should consider.

We have invited owner of the Perth based White Rabbit Retreat ”Kym Elliott” to share with us what it’s like running a boutique retreat and being in the position to which you take on the role of caregiver.  

Hi, my name is Kym and along with my Husband Dave we own and operate The White Rabbit Retreat right here in Perth, Western Australia. What is The White Rabbit Retreat? Well, what we offer is unique and exclusive – some would say ‘boutique’…. Essentially, we look after your rabbits/cavies in 5-star luxury whilst your on holidays!

We often get asked why we created The White Rabbit Retreat? At the time we were a family of just 1 very spoilt 5-year-old rabbit named Minty. The ‘White Rabbit’ is in fact Minty who was a white dwarf rabbit with black markings. The why? Simply, we could see there was a huge need for high end care for people looking to board their rabbits whilst they were on holidays. We came up with the idea when it came time for us to take a short break, 90% of the holiday boarding places housed their rabbits in breeding banks, wooden hutches or cages with very little to keep them occupied or any decent food other than scraps of veggies. It was appalling! As soon as we were home, we began planning……little did we know that 4 years down the track we would not only have 6 adopted rescue rabbits of our own but a successful business doing what we LOVE too!

The White Rabbit Retreat started with just one large pen and now during our peak season we can house up to 12-13 bookings at a time. That may not sound like much, but when they are bonded pairs or a small herd of 4 or more guinea pigs – it really adds up! We decided from the very start that we would always remain ‘boutique’. We didn’t want to compromise the size of our pens just to make more money or house ridiculous numbers of rabbits at any given time. It has and will always remain at a manageable amount so we can give each rabbit the one on one time they deserve and need whilst in our care. You will often find my husband who has been affectionately named ‘The Rabbit Whisperer’ or TRW by our clients with a bun in his arms, casually walking around the house or attending to his veggie patch with a bun in tow. They just LOVE him!

To offer what we do for our clients requires A LOT of care, compassion, love, dedication and more cleaning than you will ever know! Every rabbit that comes through is treated like one of our own, they eat only the very best pellets such as Burgess, Oxbow, Science Selective or Vetafarm (yes, we carry them all here!), the veggies are premium quality sourced locally and some we even grow here in The Retreat Veg Patch. We buy fresh bales of hay every fortnight – The buns can’t get enough! Every care is taken with our hygiene practices, every pen, toy, tray, bowl, towel, rug or mat is cleaned with F10 before and after each rabbit has set foot in the pen – There simply is no other options when it comes to cleaning. You must do it well and thoroughly; we can’t afford to have rabbits going home sick!

Just in case we weren’t already busy enough, we decided to offer rabbit grooming on Saturday and Sunday mornings where our clients that may not be boarding can have their rabbits groomed by us. This service has become very popular and we often find we are taking bookings well in advance too. I have been taking a few pet grooming classes and trailing new techniques on my own rabbits (lucky them!). We are hoping to offer a few new services on our grooming menu within the next several months.

Admin, yes even The White Rabbit Retreat has Admin duties! Every week we filter questions, booking requests, general questions from our clients and new clients via our social media accounts, email, text, phone calls, Whatsapp etc. Every booking request will have an invoice typed and sent within 24 hours of the request being made. We try to be as savvy on our social media as we can, all the photos and videos taken are edited and posted plus we ensure regular updates for all our clients whilst their bun or piggy is on holiday with us!  Usually in the beginning of the month we send messages to our clients who are boarding within the month to ensure we have received updated vaccination certificates. We don’t allow ANY rabbits to board who are not vaccinated – We just won’t risk it!

More recently we have been posting a few ‘behind the scenes’ posts where our clients get to see the sheer amount of work that happens to look after our furry clients. Just to give you an idea; Each month we have 20 x 15kg bags of Cat Mate kitty litter delivered, 15 x bags of various rabbit pellets, wash 12 x 10kg loads of rabbit towels every week, each year we go through 60L of F10 concentrate disinfectant, each Sunday night we wash and disinfect 20+ litter trays, every second day we purchase 4 x boxes full of fresh veggies and fruit plus 3 bales of hay per fortnight. We also have 3 x Ryobi industrial vacuums we use for cleaning and we are VERY lucky to have 2 local blokes who come to collect our rabbit manure which can be up to 15 x 60L bins full per week!

The White Rabbit Retreat has taken over every part of our lives, we have a great passion for rabbits and most importantly rabbit welfare – So much so we created a rescue! We had been foster carers, running other rescues and rescuing privately for many years. We decided to go out on our own and do things our way. The decision was made to create, Lost Souls Rabbit Refuge. What does The White Rabbit Retreat have to do with Lost Souls Rabbit Refuge? Well, the boarding fees and grooming fees that are paid to The White Rabbit Retreat a solid portion goes straight to Lost Souls Rabbit Refuge to enable us to care for the very vulnerable rabbits we have come through our rescue. We also save a small portion of the fees so we are able to donate to causes close to our heart such as Dolly’s Dream, Beyond Blue and recently WIRES – We may not announce these donations regularly but we do what we can, when we can.

What started out as a small hobby venture has enabled us to build a successful, solid business for which we are now able to run our own rescue to continue our rescue work and raise awareness about rabbits and rabbit welfare!  

We really wanted to thank Holly from Smooshie Face Treats for inviting us to write a blog about all things ‘The White Rabbit Retreat’. We hope you enjoyed.

Kym & Dave Xx

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