Rabbit update: the great outdoors.

When last we checked in with Snowflake Free-Ride, our intrepid white rabbit had not yet found the courage to venture all the way to the end of the drawbridge from her hutch.

Well, on Tuesday, Snowflake got the bunny equivalent of a screened porch. This seems to have been enough to convince her to come on out.

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Indeed, Snowflake was so enthusiastic about having free access to grass and dandelions (along with sun and breezes), that the very same day she also decided she was brave enough to hop out the open door of the bunny run into the wide expanses of the yard.

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At first she would just hop out, get a pat from me, and hop back into the run. But then, apparently, she was ready to explore the whole yard -- the lemon balm patch under the apple tree, the bark path toward the apricot tree, the nasturtium patch by the side of the house, the well-shaded patch of lawn under the hutch. (She has not yet found the vegetable garden. I aim to keep it that way.)

This hopping around was a lot of fun. But then I had to get sprogs to soccer practice, and Notorious B.U.N. was not amenable to being put back into the run, safety issues be damned.

Her view, apparently, is that as an almost-grown-up rabbit, she is responsible enough to be out in the yard wherever and whenever she wants to be. I am allowed to keep filling the water bottles and the food dispenser, and to giver her pats when she wants them, but I shouldn't be imposing a curfew or anything.

My view, of course, is that no amount of instinct and intelligence is going to help a snow-white bunny to camouflage into our yard. And, I have no intention of providing an easy meal for the neighborhood predators (of which there are many).

So I ended up scooping her up and plopping her back in the run. She did manage to convey her displeasure at this by scratching my forearms pretty well.

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I am, as always, the mean mommy.

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What disappointed me, however, is that Dr. Bernardine Healy, former Director of the NIH, was a guest and that she didn't slap Maher down hard for his idiotic statements about vaccines and Pasteur.

You can always try the bun-sized vest harnesses with a leash for the free runs. One of my buns is amenable, the other not at all.

I was going to suggest a harness as well. Believe me, if she wants to get going, you're going to have a hard time catching her. I once spent an entire day running after a loose English Spot, only catching it when one of the outside cats thought it would make a tasty meal. When they came nose to nose, both of them scared the dickens out of each other, and bun did a 180 right into my arms. (The cat, incidentally, did a 180 in the other direction.)

Sounds like she's training you to be the mother of teenagers.

By Super Sally (not verified) on 22 May 2010 #permalink

If you can't find a rabbit harness, small cat harnesses work too. That's what we used to use when we had a rabbit.

If you do try a harness, make sure the first yard of the lead is fine chain or wire - otherwise, she *will* bite through the lead at the most inconvenient moment possible. At least the harness gives you something to grab when you're chasing an escaped bunny in public.

By stripey_cat (not verified) on 22 May 2010 #permalink

I'm no rabbiteur, but couldn't rabbits be trained to return to home base on command for a treat reward? A harness seems like overkill when the point is to let the rabbits explore their own yard, rather than walk them to strange places.