The younger Free-Ride offspring's kindergarten class has been discussing rabbits for the last week or so. I can only hope the high school kids have been discussing the molecular structure of theobromine (the main alkaloid in chocolate) and working out the phase of matter of the interior of Peeps.
Younger offspring: Do you know what baby rabbits are called?
Dr. Free-Ride: Oh, I do! I know everyone thinks they're "bunnies", but really they're "kittens", right?
Younger offspring: You did know!
Dr. Free-Ride: I know a few things. So, what else did you learn about rabbits in school?
Younger offspring: Rabbits are vegetarian. They eat things like carrots, grasses, straw, and herbs.
Elder offspring: You know what else they eat, don't you?
Dr. Free-Ride: You mean their poop, don't you? Yes, rabbits eat their first-run poop so their digestive tract can extract as much of the available nutrients as possible. I'm not sure that's much worse than regurgitating your partially digested food and chewing it as a cud.
Elder offspring: I didn't say rabbits were worse than cows.
Dr. Free-Ride: So, if rabbits are vegetarian, they don't have to prey on other animals.
Elder offspring: Other animals might prey on them.
Younger offspring: Rabbits can hop away pretty quickly. If they need to, they can also scratch or bite.
Elder offspring: And sometimes when they're jumping, they change directions in midair. That could confuse the predator about which way the rabbit is going to get away.
Younger offspring: You used to have a pet rabbit.
Dr. Free-Ride: Yes, a long time ago, when I was still a graduate student.
Younger offspring: What did you feed her?
Dr. Free-Ride: She really liked broccoli and fresh herbs. She also liked carrots, and sweet oat hay, and alfafa. But mostly she ate Purina Rabbit Chow. Actually, that means I was more vegetarian than my rabbit.
Elder offspring: Huh?
Dr. Free-Ride: What they used to get the calcium in the Rabbit Chow was bone meal.
Elder offspring: Bone meal isn't plant matter.
Younger offspring: What did she like to do?
Dr. Free-Ride: She liked hopping around. She had a really impressive hole that she dug in the garden. There was a wire ball with a bell inside that she liked to toss around with her mouth. Also, she liked to chew.
Elder offspring: What did she chew?
Dr. Free-Ride: She wasn't too picky. Phone books, speaker wires, whatever she could get her teeth on. I tried to give her good stuff to chew, like sticks, so she wouldn't chew something that would hurt her.
Elder offspring: Maybe someday we could have a rabbit as a pet.
Dr. Free-Ride: A rabbit can be a very good pet, but we'd need to be sure you two are ready to do all the stuff that's necessary to take care of a rabbit and keep her healthy and happy. You two should read the book we have on house rabbits [The House Rabbit Handbook] to see what's involved. That actually reminds me of something kind of sad. [Chris Clarke's post had already reminded me, so I was re-reminded.]
Younger offspring: What?
Dr. Free-Ride: Around Easter time, a lot of people think it would be kind of cool to give rabbits as gifts. But they haven't really thought about what's involved in taking care of a rabbit, or that rabbits are animals rather than cute toys. And then, after Easter ...
Younger offspring: What happens?
Dr. Free-Ride: A lot of people decide the rabbits are too hard to keep as pets, and they let them go out in the woods.
Elder offspring: I bet tame rabbits don't do so well in the wild.
Younger offspring: Do the wild rabbits eat them?
Dr. Free-Ride: Didn't you tell me that rabbits are vegetarian?
Elder offspring: Probably predators get them. And maybe they're not as good at finding their own food as the wild rabbits are.
Dr. Free-Ride: I don't know for sure, but I'd guess that the predators are the main problem. Domestic rabbits may not blend into the environment as well as the wild rabbits, so it may be easier for predators to find them.
Younger offspring: Like a colored egg in an egg hunt.
* * * * *
The sprogs and I reiterate Chris Clarke's endorsement of the House Rabbit Society. They have all kinds of good information on caring for rabbits as pets, and they do rabbit rescue and adoption like nobody's business.
I'm really more of a Cat Lady, but I am coming around to see rabbity appeal as well. Those are some pretty cute pics. Do rabbits cuddle?
My local library had a flyer on their bulletin board for a rabbit rescue society looking for foster homes for rabbits. Soft-hearted people who are taken in by long, floppy ears might consider homing some foster bunnies.
Good cartoon! It looks like whoever drew this is getting ready to deal with ID creationists later in life. You can tell them something once, but that's never enough!
Woodland Park and Discovery Park in Seattle have extensive populations of rabbits descended from released tame rabbits. Many of them have splotches of grey color, as if they had some wild rabbit ancestry. (Both parks are sufficiently urban that they apparently do not have any coyotes.)
Do rabbits cuddle?
Jeannie, the rabbit in the pictures here, cuddled after the first chunk of time she lived with me -- our landlord found her as a stray (either abandoned or escaped) in our apartment complex and brought her to us because my roommate had a rabbit (on the lease) and he assumed she was that rabbit. Anyway, having been a stray rabbit for some time, Jeannie was human-shy for a while, but then she mellowed out and really seemed to enjoy snuggling and getting petted.
OT: Congrats. I heard ya'll reached an agreement and won't be striking.
I had guessed that was Jeannie (the light brown hare) before I got to the disclosure. And you could lay your hands on the pictures all this time later!
I assume the paper got submitted. Glad to hear you don't need to walk the picket line.
Happy Easter and Spring (which ever arrives in your neck of the woods). Highland Park had "dandruff" when we left Sat. Brrrrrrr! But cousins were great.
Well, rabbits are intelligent, loyal and sociable animals. They are such good companions. They are not toys. Taking care of them and gaining their trust can be rewarding.
Do rabbits cuddle?
Depends on the rabbit. They really do have their own individual personalities. Jeannie's roommate Rags liked to cuddle and ride around on one's shoulder. Meimei, the later addition to the rabbit household, did not. BUT Rags could deliver some mean bites when she was mad; Meimei did not.
In addition to the occasional bite of human flesh, Rags had a strange enjoyment of the beans from Van de Camp pork and beans, the only squishy food she liked. But her favorite food by far was banana chips.
I highly recommend rabbits as pets though we can't have one now 'cause the resident dog would be too spastically friendly. I have a picture of Rags from that same photo shoot on my mantle.