The Little French Cottage Rabbitry

Written by Matt Hollingsworth

The house of identical twins Michelle and Danielle is an interesting place. To begin with, it has quite a few pets, and not just dogs and cats, although they have several of those as well, but also two mini pigs who wag their tales like dogs and four tropical birds, including a Cockatoo who likes to dance to the theme song of Barney the Purple Dinosaur. In the past they’ve owned even stranger pets including sugar gliders, ferrets, and even two pet foxes who would lick their faces for kisses.

But the main attraction is the dozens of rabbits they have bred over the last nine years as part of their business, the Little French Cottage Rabbitry. It’s this that has brought me to their house for an interview, and rarely has my job been so fluffy. Michelle leads me out a door of her house into a rabbit village—seventeen candy-colored hutches that look like Victorian-themed doll houses, clustered together like a town square under a shade of a tarped roof.

“Each [rabbit] has a big cage so they can go up and down and socialize,” Michelle explains in her Michigan accent. “We put toys in there. We try to make it exciting for them. Enriching.”

She introduces me to her furry friends. “This is Camelot,” she says motioning to a black and white bunny with big, blue eyes. “That’s Juliet; she’s real pretty. And then—look how pretty his eyes are—that’s Romeo.”

She takes out some for me to hold, including a tiny rabbit with wild fur who sits quietly in my arms as I pet her. Michelle explains that this one isn’t for sale—she’s too cute.

Back inside, I sit with Michelle opposite her leopard print couch. To her right, a green parrot eyes me with suspicion—he doesn’t like men, Michelle later explains. To my left, inside a small alcove, a stuffed fox with bunny ears sits in a miniature rocking chair, and on the shelf above, a plaque reads, “The best things in life are furry.”

Michelle lives here with her sister Danielle—a world-traveler who has been to all seven continents—and Michelle’s teenage kids, Paris and Pierce, all of whom are out of the house at the moment. I ask her how she became a rabbit breeder.

It all started when they met their friend’s blue-eyed rescue rabbit Sapphire in 2014 and were amazed at how friendly she was, acting “like a dog or a cat,” and letting people pet her, Michelle explains. She was a “calm, sweet rabbit that cheered people up.” Their friend was looking for a new home for Sapphire, and the twins were more than happy to oblige. Michelle’s kids, who were young at the time, also loved their new pet. And after seeing Sapphire, all their friends wanted a rabbit like her, but before the twins could provide, they had to find Sapphire a mate.

One day Michelle and Dannielle’s mom was in Stein Mart and overheard a worker talking about owning blue-eyed bunny. She told this to the twins who thought this could be the perfect mate for Sapphire. Her mom hadn’t caught the woman’s name, so Michelle, summoning her courage and fighting the urge to blush, walked into Stein Mart and loudly asked, “Is there a lady here that owns a white rabbit with blue eyes?”

Naturally, the lady wasn’t there that day, and Michelle had to come back tomorrow to meet her and ask if she could borrow her rabbit to breed. At first, the lady was hesitant to hand over her beloved pet, but eventually she agreed to let Michelle borrow him for a week. This is how Sapphire first met her mate, Buddy Bunn Bunn, and soon they had their first litter.

From that pair—one a rescue rabbit and the other found randomly in the owner’s yard—came the twins’ signature line of beautiful blue-eyed rabbits with black fur around their eyes like eyeliner. These rabbits are popular enough that people have come from all over the country to buy them. Michelle emphasized how personable rabbits can be, hopping right up to their owners. As an example, she told me about giving a bunny to her daughter’s modeling agent; that bunny wakes its owner every morning by hopping on her bed and kissing her cheek.

Michelle emphasized that Sapphire is a pet, not a source of income, and they’d only let her breed twice per year. They hold new baby rabbits from as soon as they’re an hour old to make sure they’re socialized.

Rabbit breeding is more of a hobby than a job and both twins work as physical therapists. They’ve considered stopping, but people keep wanting bunnies, and the joy in the kids’ eyes keeps them going.

About the author

Matt Hollingsworth

Matt Hollingsworth is the chief writer for the Bingham Group where he writes articles for Monroe Life, Farragut Life, and McMinn Life magazines. He has a degree in publishing from Belmont University and has previously written content for Aspire—Clinton, TN's largest park. In his spare time, he writes science fiction with Christian themes.

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