- Associated Press - Sunday, December 21, 2014

MILFORD, Conn. (AP) - Things will really be hopping Christmas morning in Debbie and Al Morgia’s house.

The couple, married 34 years, have nine pet bunnies and on Christmas morning, the animals will unwrap bunny-friendly gifts themselves (tissue paper works) and later, enjoy a special treat-filled meal on a holiday plate. Their group gift: a children’s choo-choo train tent for hiding.

These bunnies have their own room, Christmas tree (with carrot topper), colorful fleece holiday blankets and photo sitting at the mall with Santa - which of course will become a picture framed and displayed in the couple’s cozy and immaculate home.

“We do play Christmas music - we don’t know if they like it,” Al said.

Now that their daughter is grown, the Morgias long-eared children include: Peter, who has two noses as the result of a genetic mutation, Spritz, Cocoa and Harley, who are best friends and share a cage, Chowder, a grand-bunny who has been “visiting” from Florida for a year, Smokey, Mustang, Patches and Mocha, whose head is permanently tilted as a result of a parasite.

“I love the fact that they’re just so cuddly. They have their own personalities and they’re lovable,” Debbie said.

Al adds: “They have it good here.”

The couple 25 years ago had two outdoor bunnies when their children were young, but the fancy passed and it wasn’t until about five years ago they started their furry family. Some are rescues, some were purchased and two are handicapped.

Although Debbie gives them all snuggle time, her favorite is Peter the two-nosed bunny (one nose is inactive) who was a pet store mascot until the place closed. The owners offered Peter to the Morgias, who often came to visit him. Debbie said someone once offered the pet store $5,000 for Peter because of his interesting noses, but the owners turned it down.

“He was a very nasty bunny from being a store bunny,” Debbie said. “He’s just come so far. He loves to be hugged and kissed.”

The Morgia bunnies have quite the life all year round.

They have deluxe ferret cages with open doors, their photos on the cages, and can go outdoors through a doggie door to a fenced in area. They go on regular field trips to nonfood stores, they love riding in the car and they even go swimming. (Debbie says they do a bunny paddle.) They know their names, help one another and, unlike most rabbits, they’re not skittish at all because they get so much affection.

“These are our pets. We enjoy them and we have fun with them,” Al said. “You can’t just keep them all caged up.”

For annual pictures with Santa at the mall, where Debbie works part-time, it takes them a half hour to get in and get pictures taken and three hours to get out because so many people stop along the way to pet them or get pictures, Al said.

At Easter Bunny time at the mall, the furry Morgia clan poses for pictures with children and some even request the costumed bunny get out of the picture.

“They’re all our favorites,” Al said.

The bunnies eat rabbit pellets, hay, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, alfalfa sprouts, apples, bananas, dill and parsley. Too many carrots aren’t good for them, the Morgias said.

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