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Bob Tarte
Exotic Pet Expert & Author

Shhh... We're Talkin' Wabbits

..........Julie Jacobsen on Pet Life Radio

Linda Tarte...............................Julie Jacobsen


Proving that you donít have to be cwazy to have a wabbit in the house, reassuringly normal Utah artist Julie Jacobsen shares her memories of family bunny Skoobit. Bob and Linda talk about traits to consider before taking home a rabbit, and why two bunnies are better than one, even if they donít get along. Bob uses the skit that opens the show as a valuable lesson in how not to do a podcast.


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You have had a long day at work and you can’t wait to just get home, take off your shoes, plop yourself down in your favorite chair and relax.  You walk up to your tranquil residential home and you neatly manicured lawn in your quiet suburban neighborhood.  You put the key in the lock, open the door and [pets making noise].  Yes, the pets have gone wild, “What Were You Thinking?  Welcome to the show about everything you always wanted to know about exotic pets, where to get them, what to feed them and how to care for them.  You will even find out why some people live with a monkey.  Now, here is your host, exotic pet expert and author, Bob Tarte.  Hey Bob, what were you thinking?

Bob Tarte: Bill.  Book character Bill Holme.

Bill Holme: What?

Bob Tarte: Bill, did you hear that opening to my show?

Bill Holme: Absolutely not, why would I do that?

“You will even find out why some people live with a monkey.  [Monkey screaming]”.  Did you hear that?  Find out what it is like living with a monkey.  That is an insult.

Bob Tarte: Why, why is it an insult?

Bill Holme:  Well, where is “What Were You Thinking” recorded?

Bob Tarte:  Well, we are in my car.  We are at the Michigan Wastewater Treatment plant.  We are coming to look at birds like the American Shoveller.

Bill Holme: Fine, but where is “What Were You Thinking” usually recorded?  Oh at your house?

Bob Tarte:  That is right.  “Find out what it is like living with a monkey.”  Well, I am not going to put up with that, that’s an insult, calling me a monkey.

Bill Holme: Well, I am surprised that the producer would let that be an introduction to your podcast.

Bob Tarte: Well, it is offensive, it is an insult.

Bill Holme: Yes, it is.

Bob Tarte: I am not putting up…

Bill Holme: You shouldn’t put up with it…

Bob Tarte:  No, no, I am quitting the show as of now.

Bill Holme: Well, how can you quit when you haven’t signed the contract yet?

Bob Tarte: Oh no, I am trapped.

Bill Holme: Bob, where are you going?

Bob Tarte: I am going to end it all, I am going to throw myself into a treatment plant.

Bill Holme:  Bob? Bob?  Well, Bob seems to be abdicating his role as podcast genius.  So, welcome to 1-800-Bill-Home.  Get free football picks.  Three gold four star picks.  Take the gold and the points.  Take the charges and the points.  Don’t take the bears.

Bob Tarte:  Hi, I am Bob Tarte, author of the books “Enslaved by Ducks,” and “ Fowl Weather ” and I am the host of “What Were You Thinking,” a show about exotic pets and with me today and every week is my wife Linda.  Hey Linda?

Linda Tarte: Hello.

Bob Tarte: Hi, how have you been?

Linda Tarte: Good, good, it is cooler today.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, it is cooler here in Michigan.  I’d like to start off by thanking book character Bill Holme and Bill appears in both of my books.  Did I mention my books “Enslaved by Ducks” and “Fowl Weather?”

Linda Tarte: I believe you did.

Bob Tarte: I might have mentioned “Enslaved by Ducks,” did I mention “Fowl Weather?”

Linda Tarte: I believe you did.

Bob Tarte: OK and both of those are about our animals and Bill Holme, book character Bill Holme, he appears in both of them and I want to thank him for appearing in that opening brilliant sketch.


Bob Tarte: Oh I mean, have you ever heard anything so good?

Linda Tarte: Never anything quite like that.

Bob Tarte: Now you kids out there who are creating your first podcast, you can really take a tip from an old hand like myself.  We have done, what? Two of these now?

Linda Tarte: Something like that.

Bob Tarte: Something like two of these.  And anyone who wants to create a podcast can learn from that opening skit.  I have some tips for you.  Now, if you are going to do a skit, never write down any dialog, just assume you will remember it.  That’s what Bill and I did.  Don’t rehearse anything.  Why spoil the spontaneity by getting things right?  And if you do get things wrong, don’t do retakes at all.  Just assume, ah, it is good enough.  OK.  Now, I think you will also find that you do your best work, you are actually your most creative when you are sitting in a car.

Linda Tarte: [Laughs] ambient noise.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, especially if you are sitting in a car and you are just about to do something else.  Bill and I were about to go bird watching at Michigan Wastewater System and we decided to sneak in a little skit and you can tell from the results.  And then finally the last thing is it just plain doesn’t matter if you forget to record something, you know, you thought you had to record, but…

Linda Tarte: Do it again.

Bob Tarte: Just plain doesn’t matter if you forgot to record it or if you go back to edit your skit and you find out you’ve erased some of the files. 

Linda Tarte: [Laughs] practice makes perfect.

Bob Tarte:  Take a tip from the old master.  It doesn’t matter.  Now, all of these reasons and more are why that opening bit turned out so well and also that is why you folks listen to “What Were You Thinking.”

Linda Tarte:  And don’t believe everything you hear when Bob and Bill do a skit.

Bob Tarte: Oh OK, all right.  OK, if you do listen to “What Were You Thinking” and we hope you are going to listen, here is a reminder that we would like to hear from you about your exotic pets.

Linda Tarte: We’d love to.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, now your pet snake, your turtle, your parrot, your rabbit, your rat, frog, tarantula, parrot, in fact any legal…

Linda Tarte: Anything unusual.

Bob Tarte: Any legal pet that you might have except maybe a monkey.  Well, you might be a guest on our show…

Linda Tarte: You might love monkeys, who knows?

Bob Tarte:  Yeah, we don’t advise having monkeys as pets.

Linda Tarte: We don’t encourage it.

Bob Tarte:  For what I understand there are no adult monkey pets.  People get monkeys when it is babies…

Linda Tarte: They are wonderful as babies, they get difficult…

Bob Tarte: And then they dump him because they get aggressive and it is not fair.  And I think it is illegal in many states to keep monkeys.

Linda Tarte: That’s true.

Bob Tarte: Do what we did if you want a pet monkey.  Get a sock monkey.

Linda Tarte: That’s right, much easier to take care of.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, not so much trouble really.

Linda Tarte: Ed, the sock monkey.

Bob Tarte: Ed, the sock monkey.  So anyway if you have some exotic pets you want to talk about.  Please email us.  You can email me at and that will get the ball rolling and Linda you had something you wanted to say.

Linda Tarte:  Something I thought about just a few minutes ago.  If you have a question about your pet, either the behavior of your pet, something they are doing, something they are not doing, just anything about your pet, you are curious about, send it to us in the form of an email and we will read it on the air and get the input of the public.  Maybe they have had the same thing happen that you had happen with yours and we can all learn from it.

Bob Tarte: That’s right.  Now, you might have just Howard the Dove in the background.  And our birds are a little quieter than usual right now.

Linda Tarte: I think it is the weather.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, it is really gloomy.

Linda Tarte: It is like [60 degrees] outside today and gloomy.

Bob Tarte: But we are recording this from our dining room in West Michigan, in Lower Michigan, our fabulous dining room studio.

Linda Tarte: Yes, posh.

Bob Tarte:  Today, we are going to talk a little bit more about a subject that Linda and I know, a little bit about and that is rabbits.  How many rabbits have we had over the years?

Linda Tarte: About nine.

Bob Tarte: About nine rabbits.

Linda Tarte: Something like that.

Bob Tarte:  OK, now, lots of times when I tell people that we have got a pet rabbit, they look at me like I am just a little bit odd.

Linda Tarte:  Have you gotten that reaction Linda?

Bob Tarte: I don’t know, not really.

Linda Tarte:  OK, well, I think people just in general look at me like I am a little bit odd.  I think that goes with the territory.  But anyway I am trying to make the point that pretty darned normal people also have pet rabbits and there is a case in point joining us today is Julie Jacobsen.  And Julie is a very gifted artist.  She is a painter whose art has been exhibited at the Wardnasse Gallery in New York City and you can see Julie’s work online if you go to  Now Julie and her husband Chris live in Murray, Utah, just outside of Salt Lake City.  Julie works at the arrowhead dental lab as a lab technician and she talks to Linda today about a pet rabbit she had named Skoobit.

Julie Jacobsen: Yes.

Linda Tarte: So, you had a rabbit named Skoobit?

Julie Jacobsen: Right.

Linda Tarte: And I’d like to ask you first of all how did you come up with that name, I am just curious?

Julie Jacobsen:  Well, when we gave the rabbit to our son, probably like about 5 or 6.  I thought it would be cute with the little female to name it Turnip Rose.

Linda Tarte: Turnip Rose?

Julie Jacobsen: Like a flower and I don’t know for some reason or other, he changed it with his own name Skoobit.

Linda Tarte: Oh he?  And did he ever tell you what, did he just like that name?

Julie Jacobsen: You know, I had him write down a couple of memories about the rabbit last night.  He said he can’t remember how he got [unintelligible].  So I think it was kind of, you know, like rabbit Skoobit.

Linda Tarte:  And how did you come to get him, I mean was this your first rabbit or…?

Julie Jacobsen: It was and we wanted -- it was a Netherlands Dwarf, we wanted a tiny rabbit, they were so cute I saw some in a pet store and I thought it would be fun.  So, we found a breeder in Salt Lake City and my husband took my son there and they saw this little rabbit and she just, you know, had typical rabbit markings like you’d see outside in the wild.

Linda Tarte: So she was a little brown rabbit?

Julie Jacobsen: Yeah, kind of with grey…

Linda Tarte:  Smallish ears.

Julie Jacobsen: Yeah little tiny rabbit and…

Linda Tarte: Maybe people out there may not know, you said a Netherland Dwarf?

Julie Jacobsen: Uh, uh.

Linda Tarte:  They are small, they are smallish rabbit with small ears that are upright.

Julie Jacobsen: That’s right and they often call them the teacup bunnies because they will fit in the teacup when they are little.

Linda Tarte: Yeah, they are very tiny when they are little.  And how would you describe her personality?

Julie Jacobsen: Well, that was part of the thing when we went to pick her up, she was a year old and she had lived in a cage her whole life…

Linda Tarte: Oh my.

Julie Jacobsen:  She was taken out and handled.  And so she had her personality formed when we got her and she was quite skittish and she was friendly, but if you tried to hold here, she would bite.

Linda Tarte: Ah-oh.  So did Skoobit have any special quirks or some things that made her unique?

Julie Jacobsen: Well, I will tell you, she did, in that she was skittish, you know, and we all knew that if we held her, she will bite you, it is something like she had been burned by a cigarette.

Linda Tarte: Oh my my.

Julie Jacobsen:  But she was so cute.  She lived in a little house that my husband built in my son’s bedroom and this is like a little house and we let her out of the cage and we had hardwood boards everywhere except for the bedroom and she was terrified of the hardwood board, so it kind of acted like a barrier.  So, she would always stay in my son’s bedroom.

Linda Tarte: She liked the carpet?

Julie Jacobsen:  She did and we could see her in there hopping around within this area.

Linda Tarte: So did she like to sit with you or your boy?

Julie Jacobsen: Well, and then we would also bring her out on our couch and she would stay on the couch.  It was a little great [unintelligible] and she would hop around that and she was sitting next to you, but then like I told she would bite you for no reason, that’s how she was, but she was very friendly and we had a cat.

Linda Tarte: Did she get along good with her?

Julie Jacobsen: Well, if you would look under our son’s Charlie’s bed and they would be asleep together under the bed not touching each other but near each other.

Linda Tarte: How sweet.  So cute.  Did the kitty ever chase the bunny or -- and that never happened – sometimes when they play they kind of chase each other we found.

Julie Jacobsen:  I don’t remember them chasing each other because they were just in this little room.

Linda Tarte:  They just kind of were pals.  They just lay by each other.

Julie Jacobsen: They were pals and the cat just came for the winter time because it was my mother’s cat and she goes to Palm Desert in California during the winter.

Linda Tarte: Now, how old did she get to be?

Julie Jacobsen:  Well, we moved to another house when she was about 7 years old.

Linda Tarte:  Yes, that is pretty good.

Julie Jacobsen: Yeah.  Well, she was 8 when she passed away.  We moved into this house that there were no good place to keep her, so we had her down the basement and I felt so sorry for her.  She was down and away from everybody.  So we built a little camp for her in the backyard that was hardly garden, and we just put like a cage over the garden and he was really happy out there, but then after, it was probably about four or five months, she did seem to be getting old and then she just one day, I put her back into her cage in the house after a little bit because I thought well maybe this is not good for her to be outside all this time with night weather and she just acted very strange.

Linda Tarte: Yeah, wasn’t herself?

Julie Jacobsen:  Yeah, well she was dying, but she was 8, that is what I thought.

Linda Tarte: That is a pretty good long age for a rabbit.

Julie Jacobsen:  You know, last night I had my son write down some memories about the rabbit, do you want me to read?

Linda Tarte:  Yes, yes.

Julie Jacobsen:  OK, he said, one night he was lying in bed and he looked over and just falling asleep and he saw her jump a foot into the air.

Linda Tarte:  [Laughs] I have seen rabbits, I love that when they do that.  Just when they are feeling good.

Julie Jacobsen:  Yes, yes.  She was just playing.  And then another thing, good.  He talked about – oh and I’d forgotten about this, she nibbled on the door of the cage so much we had to replace the door.

Linda Tarte:  Oh my goodness, well a wooden door?

Julie Jacobsen: Yeah, a little hut, there is a little house that was made out of wood.

Linda Tarte: They love chewing on wood.

Julie Jacobsen:  She did and she loved chewing on the cords in his bedroom [unintelligible] which we tried to get out of the way because it could be dangerous.

Linda Tarte: Oh yes.

Julie Jacobsen: And so she would chew a little bit, she wasn’t too pesky about that because she didn’t bother a bit then we removed it.  And then he also said that he kept a bale of hay outside the house and brought a small handful and put it in her cage.

Linda Tarte:  Yes, yes, that’s Timothy hay in particular is really good for rabbits, it is good for their digestion.  Puts roughage in there and they seem to really like it, they can eat it all day long.

Julie Jacobsen:  And then a lot of times I would look into the bedroom and my son loved to listen to music when he was growing up and he’d have the record player going and you could see him dancing around and the rabbit hopping all over the place.

Linda Tarte: They like that I think.

Julie Jacobsen: That was so cute.

Linda Tarte:  When you are animated, they are a little bit animated.  They get excited over things.

Julie Jacobsen: Yeah, she was really happy.

Linda Tarte: Oh that is so nice.  Is there anything you feel you learned from caring for Skoobit?

Julie Jacobsen: I would say, it probably taught our children, especially our son, it taught him how to take care of a pet.

Linda Tarte: Well, Skoobit sounds like she was wonderful little pet and never at any point in her life, she never did want to be held.

Julie Jacobsen: No.

Linda Tarte: There is a lot of rabbits like that.

Julie Jacobsen:  Yeah, my husband would try to hold her, but he put on some leather gloves.

Linda Tarte: [laughs] not taking any chances uh?

Julie Jacobsen: That’s right and the kids, of course he hated kids, they tried to get her out from the bed and sometimes like she bit my son’s armpit.

Linda Tarte: They do not like being chased at all.  So, well, thank you so much for speaking to us about her and I want to tell you the artwork that you sent us was so nice and you have a real eye for scenery and for faces, I can tell it is something you love.

Julie Jacobsen:  Well, thank you so much.  I do enjoy it.

Bob Tarte: Great, that was Julie Jacobsen and Julie was talking about a Netherland Dwarf rabbit named Skoobit.  Now, as I mentioned, to see Julie’s art, go to the Wardnasse Gallery website.  That’s  We will be right back with more of “What Were You Thinking,” the show about exotic pets right after this exotic message.


Bob Tarte: Hi, welcome back to “What Were You Thinking.”  I am Bob Tarte, author of the books “Enslaved by Ducks” and “Fowl Weather.”  Now, you will find a lot of information on rabbits in both of my books.  Well, I guess it is not really fair to call it information.  My books aren’t exactly “how to” books.

Linda Tarte: Personal experience.

Bob Tarte:  Personal experience.  To be more precise, you might say they are more like “how not to” books.

Linda Tarte:  Mistakes that can’t be made with various animals.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, but really the ins and outs of living with rabbits, those are all there in the books.  Now, Julie brought something up in her phone call that Linda and I talked about on our first show.  If I can remember that far back, because we are real troopers when it comes to doing these internet radio shows.  OK, now Julie mentioned that she brought home Skoobit and that Skoobit was an animal, a rabbit that didn’t enjoy being held.  Now, hats off to Julie for giving Skoobit a home, but if you want a cuddly-wuddly little bunny, you definitely want to see if the rabbit can be held before you take it home.  Don’t you Linda?

Linda Tarte: You better check that right in the beginning because you can usually find that out.  A lot of times we are shy anyway when you first meet them, but sometimes you can tell if they are going to be very hostile, you wouldn’t want to get that rabbit.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, we made that mistake with Binkey.  We brought home a rabbit that fought us all the way to the parking lot.  We had to take them in a cardboard box to the car and…

Linda Tarte: Very feisty little rabbit.

Bob Tarte: Yeah and I don’t know why we didn’t know better than that, I think we…

Linda Tarte:  We just didn’t have that one before, we didn’t know how they acted.

Bob Tarte: We just kept thinking, he will get better, he will get better and he never did.

Linda Tarte: Never did.

Bob Tarte: Now, what we did with our second bunny Simon is we held him and made sure he liked being held.

Linda Tarte: He was very sweet, lovable rabbit.

Bob Tarte: And our next two rabbits after that Bertie and Rallo, you could hold them all day…

Linda Tarte: Very sweet.

Bob Tarte: In fact Rallo used to like to sit on my lap while I was watching television.

Linda Tarte: Very sweet rabbit.

Bob Tarte: And I would pet Rallo and you know, he sits there all night, wouldn’t he?

Linda Tarte: Yeah, Netherland Dwarfs are bred to be docile and sweet.

Bob Tarte: Yeah they are.  Now, his brother Bertie wasn’t crazy about being held, but you could do it.

Linda Tarte: You could pet him easily.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, you could pet him, he loved to be petted but Julie was talking about Skoobit.  I think Skoobit was a little bitey if you tried to hold him.

Linda Tarte: Yes, that was his way of saying, don’t hold me.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, but Bertie, even though Bertie wasn’t crazy about being, you know, like sitting on a lap, you could hold Bertie.

Linda Tarte: He’d sit beside you and you could pet him sitting beside you or in his cage, he loved to be petted.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, but Bertie you could hold and he was just fine about that.  So that is something you want to bear in mind.

Linda Tarte: Don’t try to make them sit on you if they don’t want to, that will just make them afraid and you don’t want that.

Bob Tarte: Yes, so start off with a rabbit that likes being held, but again…

Linda Tarte: Let them come to you.  A good way is to lie on the floor and read a magazine or something lying on the floor in the room where they are and in time they will walk up to you and then you can just quietly put your hand down and pet him and so they associate that with a happy time.

Bob Tarte: That’s right.  Now, that’s after you got them home, but we are talking about before you bring…

Linda Tarte: That is when you are picking them out…

Bob Tarte: But when you are picking up them out, make sure that they like to be held.

Linda Tarte: It helps a lot.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, Julie also mentioned that rabbits like to chew electrical cords.  We talked about this on the first show too.  You wouldn’t think that love for mangling and maiming electrical cords would be so wide spread among bunnies, but it is, I have heard that from a lot of rabbit owners that they say, “Oh, I read your book about Binkey biting your electrical cords.” And “where do you hear about my little guy.”  So, that’s a very common thing.

Linda Tarte: There is a tingly sensation they get when they put their teeth to the insulation on that wire and it feels tingly.  If they don’t bite in all the way, they don’t really hurt themselves, but you don’t know if they are going to do that, but that’s what attracts them to it, it is tingly.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, I mean it must be that because when we had Binkey, he liked chewing electrical cords so much that I thought OK, you know, I will make it easy for him, so I took an old extension cord, I cut a piece off of it, about 2 feet, 3 feet long, I put it in the cage, kind of handed it to him and…

Linda Tarte: Completely insulted.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, I mean you never would think that a rabbit could get a disdainful expression on his face, but he took that electrical cord, he threw it, he took it in his mouth…

Linda Tarte: Who do you think I am.

Bob Tarte: He kind of shook his head and he threw that electrical cord, he didn’t want that, he wanted…

Linda Tarte: He wanted the real thing.

Bob Tarte: He wanted the real thing.  So, how do we deal right now with a rabbit Rudi chewing electrical cord.

Linda Tarte: This is not a rabbit that cares about electrical cords.  Binkey was one that was very very bad that way, but most of our rabbits have not been bad that way.  You can put a barrier between them and the electrical cord, that is one good way.

Bob Tarte:  Yeah and another thing is that, Rudi, he pretty much stays in our kitchen and dining room and there aren’t a lot of cords here.

Linda Tarte: No.

Bob Tarte: Our other rabbits used to come into the living room and they would go behind the entertainment center and it is just…

Linda Tarte: Yes.

Bob Tarte: It is cord and cable heaven behind that entertainment center and it was like spaghetti for them, a spaghetti dinner.

Linda Tarte: So, we had to block that all the time.

Bob Tarte: Yeah absolutely.

Linda Tarte: Plus you can’t get them once they go back there, that is very bad.

Bob Tarte: Oh no, no way.  You will find out if you are trying a rabbit for the first time.

Linda Tarte: They love to hide, that is their prominent feature.

Bob Tarte: Oh yeah, if you lose sight of your pet bunny and he has got to run in the house, except a good hunt because we had a lot of times where we were calling for the rabbit and you know, how futile that is to call a rabbit.  A friend of mine once trained a rabbit to come for a treat food by shaking the bag and I guess that worked for him, but we never had that work.

Linda Tarte: No.

Bob Tarte: Now, Linda, what are some other things that people should look for in a rabbit if they are going to bring a rabbit home, how about like friendliness?

Linda Tarte: Do they shed because…?

Bob Tarte: OK, do you know about shedding when you go to pick one up?

Linda Tarte: It depends on what time of the year you go.  I guess if they are a young rabbit, you wouldn’t notice it, but there are certain breeds that do shed a lot and…

Bob Tarte: Oh that’s right.  You know what, you are exactly right because there is some…

Linda Tarte: And if you don’t like fur all of your house, you might want to check that out before hand.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, because there are long hair and short haired rabbits and there are some rabbits called Angora rabbits and you have to groom those Angoras, you have to brush them a whole lot.

Linda Tarte:  Now, I do, I have brushed our rabbits routinely every night because I feel it is a very good idea just in general, keeps them from getting hair balls as much.

Bob Tarte: That’s right but…

Linda Tarte: But you want a friendly rabbit, you want to keep that in mind when you are looking that does it seem like a friendly rabbit.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, I mean it is no good if the rabbit lets you hold it, if it bites you whenever you put your hand by when it is in the cage.

Linda Tarte:  If they seem bitey, right from the get-go don’t bring it home.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, some rabbits are very territorial and you know, we go to the fair sometimes and look at pet bunnies and there is lots of cages that have signs that say don’t put your hands in my cage, I bite.  So it is kind of wide spread and we can’t emphasize too much, you want a friendly rabbit.

Linda Tarte: Read about rabbits, find some literature on rabbits and find out what rabbits tend to be friendly and look for that particular breed.

Bob Tarte: Now, also you want when you are looking for a rabbit, you want one that looks healthy. 

Linda Tarte: Absolutely.

Bob Tarte:  Now, we had kind of an unfortunate instance when – you know, rabbits don’t live forever and we had a large Checker Giant rabbit named Walter and Walter had a good friend named Bertie and Bertie finally passed on and Walter was quite sad because he was used to having his friend.  And we will talk about that in a minute.  So, what we did was we went to see a breeder we know who had some really nice rabbits.  And so we found a really sweet little bunny that we brought home.  And it didn’t turn out too well, did it?

Linda Tarte: No, it ended up being too young and we didn’t know it.

Bob Tarte:  Yeah, see it was a tiny tiny little rabbit.

Linda Tarte: They said it was weaned.  They said it was perfectly ready to go.  We came home with it and it only lived overnight.  And we were very upset with them because they hadn’t paid close enough attention to see if that rabbit was weaned and here we were trying to give it adult food, while we didn’t know it wasn’t weaned.

Bob Tarte: But I think there was something wrong with it too because I remember that its rear end was a little bit wet.

Linda Tarte: Little dampish and that might have been an indication.

Bob Tarte: So I think it had some kind of bad digestive problem.  And this breeder usually is very very good with really nice friendly healthy rabbits and she was very sorry about it. 

Linda Tarte: Reliable.  Yeah.

Bob Tarte: But speaking of breeders, I can’t emphasize enough that you don’t need to go to a breeder or a pet store to get a rabbit.  Please go to a house rabbit society if…

Linda Tarte: If you have one in your area.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, if you are willing to do so and adopt or even some animal shelters and adopt a bunny that needs a home. 

Linda Tarte: Yes, that is a kind thing to do.

Bob Tarte:  Yeah, most of the animals that we have and I don’t know if we mentioned before, besides all the birds we have, we also have five cats.  And every one of those was, of the cats at least, was an animal that came to us and it is the same…

Linda Tarte: That needed a home.

Bob Tarte: And it is the same with most of our animals.

Linda Tarte: Yes.

Bob Tarte: Now, we were just talking about Walter, how Walter was pretty sad after Bertie died and so we did go and get a friend for Walter and we got Rudi.  And you would not believe the difference it made in Walter’s disposition to have another rabbit.  I remember we had Walter in a pen down the basement and we don’t keep Walter down the basement – we didn’t keep him down the basement.

Linda Tarte: He went down there to play.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, our rabbits had a lot of changes of scenery.  They have like right now Rudi has a cage in the dining room and he comes out…

Linda Tarte:  He has got la outside pen that he goes in.

Bob Tarte:  Right, right and at various times we have let rabbits in our living room, on the porch and we also made kind of a play area in the basement and that is where Walter was.  Walter was in his play area in the basement and he was just very kind of mopey…

Linda Tarte: And dejected.

Bob Tarte: Very mopey and so we had a little pen next to him and we set down Rudi and you should have seen the change in him.  He sniffed a little bit, perked up and he gave a little hop and that was one happy rabbit.

Linda Tarte: He really changed after that and got much happier.

Bob Tarte:  Now Linda, why don’t you talk a little about Bertie and Rallo because those were two rabbits we had, they were brothers and they loved each other, but you couldn’t put them in the same room together.

Linda Tarte:  When they were babies they were just fine together.  We brought them home and they were inseparable and they played together in rooms and chased around and lay by each other and were best friends, but when they got – well they were so quite young.  They might have even been still babies and they were both boys and I believe that we did have them neutered, didn’t we, so we didn’t think we’d have any problem with aggressiveness or anything like that because sometimes they do and you need to get them neutered and that is the end of the problem.  But the thing about some rabbits and many rabbits is that they are territorial.  After they reach a certain age, they have decided that this room is my room or this area is my area and even though they may previously have gotten along just ducky with the other rabbit they will just often decide to fight with them and that is what happened with Bertie and Rallo.

Bob Tarte: Once their hormones kicked in…

Linda Tarte: That’s it, they are done being friendly with the other rabbits.

Bob Tarte: Oh and we would come in the room and they would be rolling around…

Linda Tarte: Fur flying.

Bob Tarte: Yeah literally fur flying, maybe that is where the term came from.  We would find handfuls of hair of rabbit fur…

Linda Tarte: Tumbling around fighting.

Bob Tarte: Yeah it was nasty and…

Linda Tarte: We had to separate them at that point because they were – weren’t they in the same cage together in the beginning?

Bob Tarte:  They were in the beginning.

Linda Tarte: We had to get two separate cages, but at that point they were all right.  They could be friendly to each other, touch noses if they had their own little separate cage with wire in between, they would touch noses between cages and sort of lie up on the – so they would almost touch bodies between the two cages but they couldn’t be out together.

Bob Tarte: No, they were just about inseparable as long as there was a separation between them.

Linda Tarte: Right, they had to have their own territory.

Bob Tarte: It was very funny.  Now, we found out we got a large French Lop rabbit named Bea and she was a female and I think it helps keeping males and females together especially if they are different size rabbits.

Linda Tarte: We had them neutered of course.

Bob Tarte: Yeah and Bertie and B got along and Rallo and Bea got along.  They could be out together, but of course Bertie and Rallo couldn’t be out together.

Linda Tarte: And Bea was a great big huge rabbit.  She was a French Lop, great big huge rabbit and Rallo was a little tiny Netherland Dwarf, but they liked each other very very well and she would always want him to groom her and he did, he groomed her face all the time and I don’t remember if she groomed him, she was kind of the queen.  I think she just expected him to groom her.  But they got along just fine, but not the two boys.

Bob Tarte:  Now, eventually Walter died and we were left with Rudi all by himself and so we decided to get Rudi a friend.  So, this time we went to see Chris, and Chris works with the Wildlife Rehab Center in Grand Rapids, and Chris had a lot of domesticated rabbits that people have abandoned.

Linda Tarte:  Yes, she had a Rabbit Rescue Center.

Bob Tarte:  Rabbit Rescue Center, and so that’s where we got Frieda and Linda, why don’t you tell the story about how Rudi and Frieda met.

Linda Tarte:  We took Rudi along with the hopes that we could find a rabbit that he liked.  So, we went in the backyard and she had all different rabbits and she had a very large trampoline in the backyard.  And, one by one I brought rabbits over to Rudi, set them down beside him to see what his response would be to them.  And, the first 2 or 3, he just—either they walked away from each other or he didn’t like them or they didn’t like him, you know one thing or other wasn’t right.

Bob Tarte:  Some would chase him.

Linda Tarte:  Some would chase him.  Anyway, the vibrations were just not right with the first few rabbits we set down.  But, then Frieda was the one we picked one, this big white New Zealand rabbit, we set her down beside him and they liked each other immediately.  They just sat side by side, I can’t remember if they nuzzled each other or did they?

Bob Tarte:  Yeah they did.

Linda Tarte:  Did they?

Bob Tarte:  They got along great.  We took them home in the same pet carrier and it was funny, after we first got them home, there was just…

Linda Tarte:  Very brief period of time.

Bob Tarte:  Very brief period of time there was a little fighting and not strong fighting.

Linda Tarte:  Not even…

Bob Tarte:  Not strong fighting just a little tussling and we worried about it.

Linda Tarte:  It’s a little territory thing or something.

Bob Tarte:  Linda called Chris, and Chris said, “Well, just give it a little time.” And then we did, and oh did they get along.

Linda Tarte:  They loved each other.  Best friends.

Bob Tarte:  I remember seeing one of my favorite things is when I would reach down to pet Frieda, and then Rudi would run up and stick his head right next to hers, so that you couldn’t pet Frieda without petting Rudi.

Linda Tarte:  They would lie with their heads together and when you petted one, you were petting both of them, so that worked out great.  You could pet them both at the same time, it was so cute.

Bob Tarte:  Yeah.

Linda Tarte:  And, they always lied under the kitchen table together and groomed each other.  They had a very sweet relationship.

Bob Tarte:  Yeah, we still have Rudi, unfortunately we lost Frieda due to an illness she had. But, you know…

Linda Tarte:  She was a wonderful rabbit.  New Zealands makes wonderful pets, they are very docile and sweet.

Bob Tarte:  Well, okay now.  That’s really about it for this week’s epic version of “What Were You Thinking.”  And, remember we want to hear from you about your exotic pet.

Linda Tarte:  We can’t wait.

Bob Tarte:  So, email us at about your exotic pet and you might be our next guest.  You know what?  You might be the next host of this show, who knows.  Our mysterious producers might decide that we don’t fill the bill.

Linda Tarte:  Your tips might be better than yours. 

Bob Tarte:  Yeah.  Thanks to Julie Jacobsen for sharing her memories of Skoobit and thanks to those aforementioned very mysterious producers rumored to be a group of eastern monks living in a high-tech cave in the Himalayan Mountains.  So, thanks to you, our listeners and thanks Linda.

Linda Tarte:  See you next week.

Bob Tarte: Bye bye.

Linda Tarte:  Bye.

Thinking about buying a monkey, how about a parrot or a skunk, then check out this show that will answer the burning questions: Where do you get them? What do you feed them? How do you take care of them? And, most of all “What Were You Thinking, with exotic pet expert and author Bob Tarte, every week on demand from

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