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The Rabbit

Everything I know about rabbits I learned from Richard Adams' Watership Down. 

1. Rabbits can be ferocious fighters.
2. Hutch rabbits are idiots.
3. Rabbits do not like to pass droppings in their burrows.
4. Rabbits can swim.
5. Rabbits don't walk single-file or make very long sprints.
6. Rabbits can only count up to four.
7. Female rabbits are the ones that usually dig burrows.
8. Rabbits can be so scared that they freeze or drop dead.
9. If conditions are too bad, female rabbits can absorb their unborn young into their bodies.

Unfortunately all that nonsense—Or who knows? Maybe it's true.—hasn't helped me understand the nature of owning a rabbit as a pet.

A few weeks ago I was sitting in the front yard with the children when Joan, our neighbor across the street, asked if we'd seen the rabbit. A rabbit! Why, that could provide a good ten minutes of entertainment. We hustled up the street to where our other neighbor, Brenda, and her two daughters, Kayla and Corin, were trying to lure a small gray rabbit out from under their mini cooper with a stalk of asparagus. We joined the fun, chasing the little rabbit from one car to the next. Lee succeeded in getting it to take a few bites from the asparagus stalk, and Brenda brought out her dog carrying cage and a broom.

We chased the rabbit under cars and to our side of the street. With a carrot in one hand, I was able to grab the rabbit and drop it into the cage. Now what? We agreed to divide the responsibilities. Brenda would post the "Lost Rabbit" signs. Joan would post something on our neighborhood website. I would take care of the rabbit. Three weeks later, we are still rabbit owners. I'm rather glad that no one claimed it.

The children were over the moon. It ate from our hands and let us pet it. The children kept exclaiming, "Mommy, do we have a pet?" or "I'm gonna go check on the rabbit."

In the past Phil and I have told the children stories about Bigwig, Fiver, and Hazel from Watership Down, so the children wanted to call our rabbit Bigwig even though it's neither big nor wig-like nor a boy rabbit. Oh well.

A week later and we built a hutch out of leftover wood scrapes, chicken wire, and roofing material. The backyard is rabbit-proofed for the daytime wanderings, and we've been putting Bigwig in her hutch at night to keep her safe from coyotes and cats and wolves and bears and things of this nature. We have already spotted a hawk resting on our telephone lines above our backyard. I hope the rabbit survives for more than a month.
 Already Bigwig is teaching the children all sorts of new lessons. Namely:
1. How to not scream at the rabbit
2. How to not jump on the trampoline when the rabbit is under it
3. How to not chase the rabbit
4. How to not poke the rabbit with Tinkertoys
5. How to not poke the rabbit with carrots
5. How to leave the rabbit hutch's gate shut
6. How to leave the backyard gate shut
7. How to chase the rabbit if it escapes
8. And how to built little make-believe houses for the rabbit out of wood scraps.


jgd said…
Thank you for being my neighbor and bringing such joy to our neighborhood with your children, your playing with the children in your front yard, taking them for walks and teaching them about bunnies, and all sorts of wonderful things. You and your family are a blessing to all of us.
Thanks, Joan. We love being a part of this little street community.

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