RABBITS I’VE KNOWN
After 10+ years of living with rabbits, I’m always amazed when I run into people who still think all rabbits do is sit quietly in cages and munch carrots all day. The modern house rabbit has a full schedule of investigating everything within hopping range, lying about in criminally cute poses, thinking up new bits of mischief to get into, streaking around the room like a mad March hare, and then, when her work is done for the moment, munching on a carrot or two if no tasty furniture or electrical cables are handy.
Esther, my first bunny, lost no time in informing me that a cage with a closed door was not her idea of appropriate rabbit accommodation. As a young rabbit on the go, she’d have me know, she needed full run of the house. Those powerful hind legs were itching to be on the move, and those tasty furniture legs certainly weren’t going to come to her to be gnawed!
Esther was a rabbit who believed in plenty of daily exercise. Life was too short to sit quietly on someone’s lap. She loved to be petted and groomed but insisted I had to get down on the floor to do any cuddling. In that respect she was like my current companions, Eve and Lilith. But in other ways the three couldn’t be more different.
Esther followed me around like a little puppy. Endearing as this was, it sometimes resulted in some near-accidents on the stairs for me and a few unscheduled flights across the floor for her when I changed course and sent her sailing. Fortunately, neither of us suffered any serious damage.
Lilith and Eve are friendly but reserved. They keep each other company most of the day – grooming and snuggling together one minute and chasing each other the next. Though they feign independence, they always save their wackiest behaviour for times when I’m around to watch. And nothing annoys Eve (the dominant bunny) more than seeing me give Lilith a petting before she’s had HER greet and groom session! Everybunny needs a little love and attention, no matter how independent.
Dealing with Change
Esther firmly believed that everything has its place and it should stay there. In her daily rounds of inspection, she’d freeze in her tracks if a favourite play box had been carelessly knocked out of place as little as an inch, and an unexpected new piece of office equipment or furniture was enough to send her into a state of panic for most of the morning.
Lilith and Eve love change. A favourite perching object moved into a new spot presents a whole new perspective on things and good reason to spend several minutes jumping up and down, taking in the new view, and comparing notes on the improvement. When I recently got tired of my drab home office and decided to renovate, I was concerned all the noise and confusion would upset them. But instead they became so excited they were making several trips a day to the third floor office just to see what was new.
Each time they’d rush up, cautiously move around sniffing and pawing at everything, jump up on whatever was accessible, carefully investigate every new nook and cranny, then begin racing around and around until they finally collapsed for a well-deserved rest. Every day they had an entirely new environment to explore, and they were eager to discover what new objects might appear on the next visit. (On one visit they took the opportunity to sever my phone connection when the cable was left dangling until the paint dried enough to tape it back to the wall!).
The girls were exhilarated with their constantly changing world. Esther would have been appalled at all the noise, plaster dust, and confusion. Everybunny has his or her own interests and personality – his own philosophy of life, I suppose. But so far I’ve never met one who enjoys just sitting around a cage all day and munching carrots.