cute and cuddly or vicious killers?
When most people think of rabbits they think of cute and cuddly little critters, and story characters such as the mischievous Peter Rabbit.
And then there’s this poor pet rabbit in The Lost Princess who gets thrown at the king and queen in a fit of rage by their badly behaved daughter, Rosamund. This is an illustration I did of the terrible deed. Rosamund is then whisked away by the wise woman to learn how to be a better person. I’m sure most parents wish at some point a wise woman would show up at their house and do the same. Probably my parents did.
But when I think of rabbits, I think, first of all, of Peter and Penelope, a brown and black rabbit respectively that I had when I was around nine years old. Now, let me just say, I would never harm an animal. I would never throw my rabbit at my parents, for example. That Princess Rosamund was a truly horrible little girl!
I brought my rabbits home from the pet store so excited to have them. All was fine when they were little. But then, they began to grow older.
Now, the pet store worker had assured us that one rabbit was male and one was female. I wasn’t sure why this mattered, but I was soon to find out.
The day came when these two cute and docile rabbits turned from cute little babies into rabid teenagers. They started fighting with increasing ferocity until they started to badly bite each others and draw blood. My dad had to separate them–wearing protective gloves. Once apart, they were fine.
Well, it appeared we’d been sold two male rabbits. Wait, so that’s what guys do to one another? Pretty much, yep. Wars and all of that, you know? Wars over territory. Thank goodness we hadn’t had one female and two males. Now that would have been something. Think Troy.
In fact, later, when my own daughter was around ten, she convinced me to get her a puppy and a rabbit. One rabbit and one dog, what could go wrong? A lot.
Because, the puppy was a female and the rabbit was a male. Why would that matter, you might ask, and that’s a very good question.
Next thing I knew, the rabbit started guarding that puppy–which was a German Shepperd and maybe five times the size of the rabbit. No matter. The rabbit thought he was ten feet tall.
At first it seemed kind of cute. The rabbit followed the dog everywhere, and sat right next to it like a sphinx when the dog slept. But then, the rabbit began to grow more and more possessive. And aggressive. You dare want to pet the dog. No way. You want to even come near the dog? Absolutely not. It got to the point where anyone who even looked like they might approach the dog was viciously attacked.
I mean, forget guard dogs. Get a guard rabbit!
I had to put on protective gloves and boots if I wanted to get near the dog. The rabbit would even jump. Scary!
Then, it started spraying all around the dog’s house, on the dog, everything. Gross! I had a hard time explaining that one to my daughter. She just wanted her dog back. But the rabbit was now a sex crazed maniac, thinking it could impregnate the dog. Embarrassing to watch. Plus, we had been assured this rabbit had been “fixed” mind you.
I guess the lesson here is, NEVER believe the people at the pet store!!!
One day I ventured forth with protective gear and captured the rabbit and took it away. By that point, I was the author of the children’s book series The Rumpoles and the Barleys about two adorable mice families. My older brother jokingly threatened to tell my fans about my treatment of the rabbit. What about the rabbit’s treatment of us? But who would believe such a cute little thing could terrorized us big humans? Finally, one day, my dad came to the rescue again. He captured the rabbit and let it go into the wild. I am pretty sure it did fine. Probably became to terror of any animal who crossed its path. Or maybe it found a female and fell in love and got rid of all its aggression.
But I digress. Back to when I was little and my first traumatic rabbit tale. So now, I had two rabid rabbits who couldn’t play together, nor could I play with both of them at once and it just wasn’t fun anymore.
But, being a somewhat mischievous kid myself and also thinking I was a bit of a scientist (I once dissected a rattle snake my dad had killed, cleaned the insides and stuck them on paper and labeled them all. Then invited all the neighbor kids to my “Natural History Museum” to view it–for a fee, of course) anyway, I got the idea to tie a rope around the necks of each rabbit and put one on each end of the garden. There, they could eye each other, like two boxer in a boxing ring, as they strained and struggled to get lose.
I instructed my best friend, who was holding the other rabbit, that we’d let go of them at the same time. (My poor long-suffering friend. I’d wanted her to help me dissect the snake but she had refused and thrown up instead).
One. Two. Three. Go!!!
I made sure the ropes were just long enough so the rabbits would run at each other and be stopped short, one inch from each other’s noses. There they would stay, snarling and baring their teeth and flexing their claws, straining to reach each other, but they couldn’t.
I don’t know, as a ten year old kid, I found it entertaining.
Needless to say, my mom didn’t. She’d had enough and said I had to give one away. I parted with Penelope, feeling irrationally that she/he had somehow betrayed me by pretending to be a female, which of course hadn’t been her fault but the fault of the guy at the pet store.
No, I wasn’t your “normal” girl child. It’s no surprise I ended up a kickboxer and a writer. And now I think Watership Down is a more accurate account of rabbits. 😏