Category Archives: Creatures featured
It often comes as a surprise to those who, when they think of pet rabbits at all, picture them outdoors in hutches or worse [NSFB – Not Safe For Bunnies], that they can live quite happily inside with the humans. They can usually be litter-trained and are odour-free: both big pluses. And they are incomparably adorable. Meet Oreo, as we first met him at about 10 weeks:
aka spanner, so-called because when we spotted him in a shop all the arguments against having a bunny ground to a stop.
He’s just over a year old, and has the run of most of the house, the exceptions being the kitchen and the storage room where his hay is kept.
Aside from hay—we get ours by the bale from a local farmer; much of it ends up scattered on the floors, just like in medieval times—rabbits also dig their greens.
is to bunny-proof your own hutch. This involves safeguarding wires, which rabbits appear to be more fond of than carrots, and restricting access to books or whatever your new housemate fancies.
Still, you must prepare yourself for the inevitable small nibbles that start appearing in home furnishings.
And they will. Go. Everywhere.
it was in the way
Rabbits are crepuscular, which means they’re most active in the mornings and evenings
but really, once you’ve let a rabbit in, he’s liable to scamp about in your head 24/7.
Wonderful as it’s been having him in our lives, he’s a lot of work and worry. When rabbits are sick they can go downhill very fast, so you’ve got to keep a close eye on them. As a prey species, most don’t particularly like being held, so many people’s reason for wanting one in the first place (lots of hugs, of course!) goes right out the window. But he’s an appreciative magnet for pets, grinding his teeth in approval – a satisfying reward known as ‘tooth purring’. All in all, we’re glad he’s ours and we’re his.
I had what educators call a teachable moment yesterday whilst interviewing a gardener (which makes me sound posher than I am, but if the Hunters fit…). “I see you around on your bike,” he said after we’d discussed how much Monsanto Roundup should be sprayed to stun but not kill bunnies. After we’d established that yes I am the village cyclist, he launched into a mini diatribe against cyclists who wear “those ear things” and weave all over the road. Needless to say I cleared my throat.
Had a bit of fun watching his eyes slightly bulge at the thought he may have just insulted a potential client, but I’m not cruel enough to enjoy the squirming of even tradesmen, so I let him off the hook by agreeing that yes, it looks like a crazy thing to do, before explaining why it isn’t any madder than spraying glyphosate around and hoping the local hoppers regard it as nectar.
Anyway, it turns out his anecdotal ire was based on an apparently misbehaving pedestrian, who in the interests of comity I agreed should also be sprayed with Roundup much like unruly weeds.
My wife recently celebrated the 10th anniversary with her employer, though ‘celebrated’ is so not the word she’d wish to use: more like bewailed. But that’s another post. The point of this one is that they give people who manage to hang on that long a list from which to choose an anniversary gift. As a last resort – nothing on the list appealed – she chose this:
Though we take a lot of pictures, we have seldom felt the urge for any of them to be moving. That was before the bunnies moved in. Last year I finally got around to pushing the movie button on my camera. It was fun, but not addictive. Then came the list, which was filled with underwhelming flat screen TVs, garden furniture, and if I remember correctly, an option to give to charity. Charity begins at home, especially when you’re feeling like a basket case after giving a decade of your life to what can seem like the back office of Satan. She took the Handycam.
As I may have mentioned, we like “our” rabbits. They’ve made us laugh; they’ve made us cry. They keep us company out here in nowhere, along with the lambs who sometimes make a break-in, and the occasional lost white van man.
Which is enough preamble.
Harrier Jump Jet @ 1.16. I should probably learn how to edit these; there’s a lot of eating first…
Always start the morning with breakfast and a kick in the face
Out of the cave & into the jungle
The first day of summer brought death to our patch. Casually looking out the window in the morning, I spotted a small rabbit, mortally wounded. He was just a few feet from where he had been born a few weeks ago. (Here’s a video from last year outside the same delivery room.) A big loop of intestine now draped down his otherwise beautiful flank. It glittered red in the sun, looking almost artificial.
I’m not ashamed to say this brought not a small amount of grief to my fellow amateur naturalist and me. We’ve been feeding this litter of rabbits, and the one before, and the extended family. We chop carrots then close the front door, which is like ringing a dinner bell.
I know they’re wild animals, often considered pests. All I can say is they’re not pests to us. They’re the closest we’ll ever get to having a pet, with the advantage that they remain free range.
Bunny did not appear to know he was not long for this world. He wasn’t in distress. When he wasn’t resting in the shade, he softly hopped around the yard following whatever impulses that had always moved him. At times he was joined by others of his creche. They seemed not to notice the terrible thing that had happened. I’m guessing there is no evolutionary advantage to forming a support group.
We figured stoat or cat. Whatever had left him for undead didn’t really matter. It hurt to watch him. It hurt to have helped him grow, then bear witness to the end of all growing.
He briefly visited the hole from which he’d first emerged and we’d seen him, with all his brothers and sisters, waiting to be fed by his mother. The mob scene had been hysterical – bunnies rolling on their back to claim a teat, oh so hungry, lucky rabbits feet kicking at the air.
Rabbits die all the time, unwitnessed, all around. Of bloody course they do; nature red in tooth and claw. We try to do our part not to contribute to the suffering in the world. To that end, we discussed euthanasia.
We couldn’t do it. I don’t think I could have caught him, never mind the wild distress he would have suffered in the attempt. Even if I had, I don’t have it in me. We finally decided that if it had been a bonafide pet, it would be our responsibility to do something, but that this poor little bunny was outside our field of influence.
Imagine a world where you don’t feel guilty about not being able to kill.
Mourning passed into afternoon. At some point we saw him; then we saw him no more. He had a life. We shall miss that little life.
David Attenborough may not have me on speed dial, but I was pleased to capture this, using our house as a hide. I like the way she goes into “Hole? What hole?” mode when another rabbit comes along.
A few weeks later…