When rabbit owner Jenna Antol of New Jersey came across an article about the oldest living dog, she wondered if such a title existed for rabbits. She sent an email asking about this at the Guinness World Records’ site. She owned a senior Jersey Wooly rabbit.
“A few weeks later they replied — Yes, minimum age is 14 years old, and they are currently awaiting a claim.” Antol’s rabbit Do was more than 14 years old at the time. Jersey Wooly rabbits typically live from 5 to 10 years.
She applied for a claim number and was sent a list of requirements. “Including copies of all veterinarian records, age progression photos, family and friend affidavits, and health certificates from two different veterinarians listing his current condition based on his age.”
Antol completed all the requirements in June 2010 and, in August, she received a certificate listing Do as the oldest living rabbit. “I quickly went onto Guinness World Records’ website to verify that he did, in fact, hold the title, and there it was.” Check it out at the Guinness website.
She said the process of obtaining the title for her rabbit was amazing, nerve-wracking, time-consuming and surreal, “But without a doubt worth it!”
Do turns 16 in January 2012, which will likely result in the usual celebration. “No parties, but we always sing Happy Birthday to him and give him extra hay,” Antol said. And because Do is partially deaf now, she said the singing gets louder each year.
Do came into Antol’s life in June 1996 when she visited a local pet store and noticed him in a corner near where the birds were kept. She asked about the rabbit, and a store employee got the manager. “The manager said he had no idea what to do with him, but he was 5 months old and a Jersey Wooly,” Antol said. “Next thing I know he just packed him in a box and gave him to me for free.” Antol was 14 at the time, and Do was her first rabbit.
What’s the story behind Do’s name? It evolved from a comment Antol made about his appearance before knowing what being a Wooly meant. “I said, ‘This rabbit has the craziest hair-do I have ever seen!’ So it became Do for short.”
“Do is a bunny of little change,” Antol said. “He still loves making big hay nests and laying in them for hours as he did when he was much younger. He eats some pellets daily and continues to find it necessary to rearrange his bedding material from time to time.”
Do completely lost his sight and some of his hearing when he was about 12. His veterinarian told Antol these types of changes are normal due to aging. He also suffers from some arthritis, which makes getting up take longer and involves a rocking technique.
Despite his health challenges, Antol said Do does pretty well. “He still hops around and gets those crazy leaps in the air from time to time as an adult bun would. But when he needs his routine brush-outs for his coat, he has developed the attention span of a baby bun.”
Do proved he can still learn new things, too. “His newest trick is to let the ball at the tip of his water bottle press right up against his nostril so the water just flows freely down to his mouth creating that ‘runny nose’ look, which I find necessary to always wipe!”
Long Life Secrets?
Antol isn’t completely sure why Do has lived so long, but she made some guesses. He loved supervised time outdoors when he was young, and Antol only offered him water and hay during those outings. She never put out herbs or vegetables for fear of attracting bugs.
“To this day, Do has actually never eaten a carrot or another veggie for that matter — only timothy hay as a primary diet,” Antol said. “Maybe that is the secret? I don’t know, but we are not changing a thing! Plus, since he can hardly hear, his stress level must be at an ultimate low.”
Pets In The Family
Although Do is her first pet rabbit, he’s not the only pet in Antol’s life. Her pet family also includes a 12-year-old dwarf rabbit, a 10-year-old lop rabbit, five cats, a dog and a chinchilla. Antol has loved animals for as long as she can remember and has been a veterinary assistant for the past nine years.
Antol said that rabbits are really part of the family, not disposable, and she hopes people realize that. “He has given me so much joy and love throughout the years that I just wish for many more memories to come,” she said. “Hard to believe that this little, 21/2-pound rabbit that was not wanted as a baby grew up to become a world-record holder. Blows my mind all the time. I love him dearly.”
Excerpt from the annual magazine Rabbits USA, 2012 issue, with permission from its publisher, Lumina Media. To purchase the current Rabbits USA annual, click here.