Rabbits are often portrayed as benign, innocent creatures with easy-going personalities. The rabbit Thumper befriends Bambi; Bugs Bunny is known for being funny yet relatively harmless; and of course Peter Rabbit, a little brown bunny in a suit jacket fills storybooks and children’s dreams. While all of these characters make for great childhood friends and heros, all of them are extremely inaccurate when representing the rabbit species.
My parents and I don’t exactly always get along. Like most families, we definitely have quarrels and disagreements. Sometimes this happens at the dinner table, sometimes this happens when I’m midway out the door at 10:30 p.m. on a school night, and sometimes this happens in the car. Particularly with my dad, we don’t exactly see eye to eye on the roles of children vs. adults. During one specifically nasty argument, which to this day neither of us can even remember what it was about, I dramatically tried to throw myself from the car. This didn’t work out all that well as we were going pretty fast on an undivided highway. Alas I survived bailing ship and began to walk along the side of the road in defiance (yes I know how this sounds). As I was walking, I came upon a little black figure. When I moved to peer closer, I was staring at a tiny baby bunny, I felt like a hero saving one of Disney’s beloved little characters. However, the rabbit, I would soon learn, was in no need of saving.
I picked her up relatively easily and brought her home in a box. My parents were not thrilled. At first, she was very quiet and didn’t move around much. I attributed this to shock. The hutch we had for her was state of the art, but not really the same as the woods. My parents, law abiding citizens that they are, eventually relented and we brought her to the vet for standard vaccines and a check-up. The bill was enormous and she became part of the family.
I named her Taystee, due to the fact that my dad is constantly threatening to cook and eat her (also, OITNB anyone?). They say, however, that mean things don’t taste good. She’s about the meanest animal I’ve ever met. I got my first glimpse of a real rabbit when my unassuming brother went to pick her up. But instead of getting a soft fur ball, he got teeth to the hand, meeting bone, and Taystee wasn’t about to let go. Ever since he’s kept his distance.
This rabbit will attack just about anything: our cat, the lawn mower, the neighbors poodles, it’s crazy. She’ll lunge and make these intimidating growling snorting sounds anytime anyone walks near her. Think rabbit from Monty Python; truthfully that scene is not all that unrealistic. Though she doesn’t tear off heads, she definitely spells “keep out.”
From some reason, however, this rabbit loves me. She’ll sleep in my lap and try and lick me all over. Based off my readings from “How to Speak Rabbit,” a handy article from House Rabbit Resource Network, these actions mean she approves of me. So why is it, that she constantly tries to run away?
Rabbits love large open spaces, a.k.a freedom. They are also fantastic escape artists. Bunnies can squeeze through tiny spaces and run about the speed as light. She constantly sneaks out of her cage to go eat the neighbor’s plants and explore their yards. Because Taystee has lived in the wild, she’s pretty savvy about most predators and under other circumstances I wouldn’t worry, especially because she always comes back to our house. Unfortunately one of our neighbors does not like rabbits. In fact I might go as far as to say he hates rabbits. For the sake of my hateful neighbor’s privacy, let’s call him Richard. Richard has a very strong opposition to rabbits, particularly rabbits that go into his yard. Particularly rabbits that go into his yard and eat his landscaping. Rabbits are naturally “slim and sleek” according to veterinarian and author Dr. Susan Brown. Taystee is about 2 pounds and relatively small, so she doesn’t do much damage to even the smallest bush.
My other surrounding neighbors adore Taystee. All of which have young kids that love to feed her dandelions and various other treats. Richard, unfortunately, is not included. Apparently he recently reached his wit’s end, when he angrily paid us a visit at 10 p.m., indicating that “this has to end” while making wild slashing motions at his throat. If she came into his yard again, he was going to kill her. This made my mother hysterical; she is much more attached to the rabbit than she likes to let on.
I became quite bitter towards Richard because of this. My friends and I came up with savage revenge plans that may or may not have included pyrethroids, piperonyl butoxide, and permethrin, tarps, duct tape and various booby traps. However we have restrained from implementing any.
This predicament is what largely caused me to be hunting around in the bushes on Homecoming at 2 a.m. in the morning, I digress.
I now face a serious moral dilemma. Taystee loves her freedom. Free range grazing, but staying safely away from cars and larger dangerous animals is the perfect life. She has small children hand feeding her, and is still beastly enough to be able to scare them away when she wants her space. She has shelter from harsh climates and bountiful space. But she also faces possible death at this cost. Taystee is blissfully unaware that Richard is a hater (of rabbits), and she will undoubtedly return back into his yard at some point or another.
To be continued…