Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Bunny Saga

Mandy’s love of bunnies began in the fourth grade when her teacher purchased one as a class pet. Mr. Cousins brought in a bunch of animals for the classroom one day: snails, fish, gerbils, a bird, and a baby bunny named Honey. Mandy was determined that at the end of the school year, when the teacher was giving lucky students the pets to take home, Honey would be her bunny.

(this photo is of Honey fully grown)
She didn’t have too much competition for the rabbit. Only one other boy had his sights set on it, since probably not many parents would give their children permission to keep it. So all she had to do was edge out Mario, her arch-rival of sorts during the elementary school years.

Mandy was a ruthless opponent. She volunteered to take the bunny home over the weekends. She brought in carrots and hay on a regular basis. She eagerly forfeited her lunch hour when the cage needed cleaning so Mr. Cousins wouldn’t have the chore of doing so. By the time Mario caught on and began asking to take Honey home over the weekends, he was about two months too late.

At the end of the school year, while names were being drawn from a hat to determine the winners of the frogs and the fish, Mandy was automatically declared the new owner of the baby bunny.

She spent the next several years with her constant companion. Honey learned to use the cage as her litter box, so she was granted free reign in Mandy’s bedroom. They watched TV together, and they sat side-by-side while Mandy played video games.

Sean built a pen-tagon in the yard for supervised daytime romps in the fresh air, and we marveled as the instincts kicked in and burrows were dug and filled with grass.

Honey died suddenly. We are not sure if she ate something which impaired her digestive system, or if she fell prey to uterine cancer as so many un-spayed females do in captivity. It was one of the most horrible things Mandy has ever had to go through. We raced to find an emergency vet still open on a Saturday night while Honey seizured and faded away. To this day I have a hard time thinking about it and it brings tears to my eyes, so I’m sure it does the same to Mandy.

A few weeks later we got Muffin to try to dull the pain. She was an adorable baby, a lionhead rabbit with cute little tufts of fur around her face and her tail.

Mandy and Muffin didn’t develop the level closeness that she had shared with Hon Bun, because by this time Mandy was dating and no longer spending every moment of her life in her room. Although Muffin doesn’t let Mandy pick her up or even pet her much, she enjoys our company, and will come to hang out with us as we sit and chat together on Mandy’s bed. She’s a good little girl.
(full-grown Muffin)
Remember that I said “girl.” This becomes important.

Around Christmastime this past year, we noticed some suspicious behavior. Mandy seemed to be up to something.

She had stopped at home to get her cell phone. Sean called me at work, because he noticed that she had rummaged around in her room and left in a hurry. He looked out the window to see her escaping with some sort of contraband under her coat.

“I’ll call her cell and see what’s going on,” I told him.

When I got no answer, he called me right back.

“I can hear her phone ringing in her room. She said she came home to get her phone, and then she didn’t even take it with her. I know she was hiding something under her jacket.”

By the time she came home later that evening, we both had those raised eyebrows and those questioning looks that most parents perfect when their darling children hit puberty.

“Okay, so do you guys wanna know why I’ve been acting weird today?”

“Ah, sure. That would be great.”

She unzipped her jacket and revealed a white baby lop-eared bunny. “Kurt got it for me for Christmas. I was afraid you guys might be mad. His name is Jack.”

You can see where this is going…

Jack and Muffin fought a bit at first as Muffin learned to share her territory with another rabbit and they worked out who would be the boss. But soon they were fast friends.
And more than friends.

We noticed that Jack was starting to chase Muffin around the bedroom. And although she ran, she didn’t run very fast. We could see that she was just taunting him, flirting with him, pausing and waiting for him to catch up…

We made Jack an appointment right away. But we were too late. By the time he had his required pre-checkup and his appointment for the snippity-snip was scheduled, I noticed something moving in the cage.

“Wait a minute… wait a minute… what was that?”

“What was what?”

“Something moved in Muffin’s cage.”

Mandy was alarmed. “Like a rat?”

“No way. It had a white ass.”

Yes, by the time we had found the two little babies, they were covered with fur, eyes opened, and they were running around the cage. They must have been very obedient little bunnies, because although we spent time with the rabbits every morning and night - feeding them, sitting with them, talking with them - we had never heard a peep from the cage.

Mandy named them Kyle and Sweetie.

Kyle is a skittish bunny, running away if you try to pet him or if he hears an odd sound. But he’s warming up to us.

Sweetie is just the opposite. She enjoys being pet, comes running to see us when we enter the room, and even enjoyed sleeping with Mandy up on her pillow when Mandy was still sleeping in her own room (I’ll get to that…)

What was most alarming was that Muffin was already weaning the babies, and Jack hadn’t even been snipped yet. Jack’s doctor agreed – Muffin was probably already pregnant with the next litter.

Luckily, the next litter was just one little baby, who we very creatively called Baby.

After Jack’s appointment, we figured we were set. Five bunnies. And Mandy wanted to keep them all.
(big daddy Jack)
But guess what? Jack must have hit Muffin up one more time before the surgery. One night at around midnight, Mandy found two naked baby bunnies back behind her bed.
And because Muffin kept climbing up on her bed to get to the babies, and because all the bunnies were becoming noisy in the night chewing on school papers and books, thumping little warnings to each other and running around, Mandy moved into the guest room.

She still wants to keep all the bunnies, but she wants them outside. So she begged her grandfather to come in for a visit from Ohio and build her a large, secure bunny enclosure in the back yard.

He’s due to visit in a few weeks. I’ll keep you posted…


Travis said...

Bunnies will be bunnies eh?

Honey had gorgeous coloring. I don't think I've ever seen a rabbit with that kind of color.

And now this story shows the true meaning of the phrase "breeding like rabbits"!

Tammie Jean said...

Hi Travis! Yes, Honey was a looker. And yes... bunnies will do what bunnies will do! It's getting a little crazy around here. But I have to admit I like them ;)

citizen of the world said...

I have that fear about our four gerbils, who we were told were all males. They seemawfully fond of each other. But so far, so good.

That firts bunny is such a beautiful color.

Tammie Jean said...

Hello Citizen! I've actually already been through this scenario before with gerbils. The daddy was so nurturing toward the babies, even more so than the mom, that I didn't separate him from the family. Next thing we knew, we had more gerbils. We eventually separated them into male and female groups, but I think we had 8 gerbils in 3 cages at one point.

Scott from Oregon said...

Yes, the "like rabbits" thing is true!

KJP said...

Oh those rascally rabbits! I love rabbits and we have Edward - a Dutch giant whom roams our home terrorizing the cat and freaking out the dog...

Tammie Jean said...

Hi Scott! Yes... it sure is... it sure is!

Hi KJP! LOL Edward freaks out the dog? Our Scruffy dog always thought the bunnies looked like possible dating material...

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

My family learned the hard way that it takes a very short time for rabbits to mate, and unfortunately it was not the happy story that you have told as the mother rabbit evidently rejected the babies. My mother tried her hardest to save them, but it didn't work out.

MyMaracas said...

I've never had a pet rabbit, but I don't think there's a cuter critter on the planet. I didn't know they could be affectionate like that.

You are one cool mom, you know that?

VE said...

I wanted a bunny for Christmas once...but that stingy Mr. Heffner wouldn't let me have even one!!

LZ Blogger said...

Tammie Jean ~ Cute, but sad story with a happy ending! ~ jb///

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

Whhen they say as fast as rabbits, they are serious! Hope your summer is going well!

velvet said...

Awww, bunnies! And more bunnies and more bunnies... hee hee.

Honey was really lovely... I think that Mandy played that hand really well. :-)

Bankerchick said...

I have come to lurk several times this year to get my animal knowledge improved. It looks as if you are taking a break too. Happy New year

MyMaracas said...

Hey there, long time no see. Just thought I'd pop in, and I'm so glad I did!

These are about the cutest little critters I've ever seen. They do, however remind me of that old Star Trek episode, "The Trouble With Tribbles". Jack was indeed a very busy boy.

Great story, engaging writing, and beautiful photos.

MyMaracas said...

WAIT... 2008??? Where did you go?

jeremy said...

I also have weakness on these creatures. I love petting them.

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