So, about two months ago, i got my very first rabbit. Now, this was not a decision i made lightly. I had considered getting a rabbit for months before that and finally decided it was time. I've owned, loved, and cared for a variety of caged rodentia but rabbits offered a freedom and level of interaction that was very appealing to me. I went to the Humane Society first, but alas, no rabbits! My options were then the three local pet stores. After several visits, i found mine. (I actually named him in the store about a week before i finally brought him home.) i bring hm home, release him into his cage, and after some settling in time we begin to interact, get cuddles, take treats, have him willingly come out of his home, and things are going absolutely swimmingly. I am thrilled and entirely pleased with my decision.
So then the unfortunate thing happens. I currently work as a waitress at a 24-hr restaurant and have since i've had Norbert. About a month ago things started getting very hairy at work. We lost several of the waitstaff, cooks, dishwashers, and a host, pretty much all within a five day span. That spelled mandatory overtime for me. For about two-three weeks i worked six days a week, nearly random shifts, generally not less than 10-12 hours. Basically, i went home, slept, got up and did it again. I took care of Norbert's *basic* needs, food, water, and cage freshening, but i really didn't interact with him. This was especially poor timing as we were just getting to know and be comfortable with each other. At this point work has calmed down, i'm no longer working ridiculous hours and won't be in the foreseeable future. However, it's pretty easy to guess what's happened in the interim.
Norbert is very skittish now, for the most part afraid to come out of his cage, let alone approach me like he used to (although he will still take an offerred treat from my hand, which he wouldn't do when i'd first gotten him.) I'm not pushing myself on him because i wagered that would only hinder the process and make him terrified of me, but i'm a little baffled by the process of re-acquaintance. To make matters worse, two days ago as i was cleaning his cage i unthinkingly rearranged it, quite a bit. Prior his cage was all litter, having a box in the center for Norbert to use as a hide-hole. There wasn't much else in it but for his food dish, as he was spending more of his time out of the cage. I got overenthusiastic and added a second box beside that that's a different height for Norbert to have levels to play on, which divided the cage into two sections. the left side i put litter in as he only uses the left corner for bathroom purposes, and for the right side and underneath the box i put down a soft sheet folded enough for him to root around in. Also i put in a new toy,a soft plushie.
...So, yea, a lot of change. That night before i went to bed, i started thinking about what i had just done - reconfigured his whole home, and basically messed everything up. Though his lil' domicile is more entertaining for him, i realized it was an awful thing for me to do when i was trying to get him comfortable with me again. He does snuggle up to the plushie i gave him and i take that as somewhat positive, but i'm still really worried that i might have done irreversible damage to our relationship. He's far less social now and i can't blame him, but i'm really looking for some advice as to how to bridge the gap. Is there anything i can do to ease the process? I'm not necessarily looking to speed it up, but more to help soften the memory for him of things going well and then suddenly having no one to play with, and now that same person being around consistently. I considered putting the cage back the way it was but then thought that could only exacerbate things, so it's been that way since. Now i'm awfully turned around - i've got time, love, and means, but this is my first rabbit AND the first time something like this has happened. Any thoughts on what to do would be highly appreciated. of what and why i need help.