Dec 31, 2006

The Nosurf Family Rodent Chronincles, volume 1

My family has a rich and flavorful history with rodents. Ok, no-- not what you're thinking. We're not a family that enjoys living in filth. These rodent episodes are purely happenstance-- not a result of lifestyle. Bad things happen to good people, guys. C'mon.

Anyway, first experience. This one began with good intentions. When I was living alone with my daughter, I kind of got baby hungry. Moms, you know what I mean? When your youngest child hits about the 2-year mark, and you start seeing these gooey little bundles all around and you're just like, I want one.

Well, in order to stave off this craving, I bought a rabbit. A cute little mini-rex with reddish brown hair and bright black eyes. He was adorable, and very friendly, and very smart, too. I named him Rudy and trained him (mostly) to go potty in one corner of his cage. He would hop up in peoples' laps sometimes and sniff them just like a little cat or dog. Man, I loved that rabbit. But it didn't completely help with the baby hunger-- about six months later, I bought a mini lop and named her Chloe. She was just a baby, so I didn't switch her cage yet, but I bought one, just in case. And then, a few months after that, a baby netherland dwarf, which Loli named Honey. At that point, Chloe was in another cage, of course, and so I put Honey in with her.

OK, yes. Eccentric. A woman living in an apartment with three rabbits. And it was completely against the apartment code. My roommates complained, so I moved them to my little tiled walk-in closet.

Well, the other two weren't as happy as little Rudy. Chloe was weird from day one-- there was something wrong with her back legs so that she sort of weirdly dragged/crippledly lopped across the room. She didn't like being held, either. She would put up a fuss unless you allowed her wherever, whenever, whatever she wanted to do. She never was box trained-- she absolutely refused. So I decided she had to be a confined rabbit.

I felt bad-- she never got enough exercise, or attention, but it seemed after a few weeks that she sort of liked it that way. She'd look at you angrily and stomp really hard if you came too close to her cage. And she'd nearly tear your hand off when you dropped food in there, too. I devised some ingenious strategies for the purpose of cage cleaning-- drop a box in, and when she goes in to exmamine it, slam a top on it, pull it out (avoiding the handle holes, of course) and then place it carefully back in and whip the top off and slam the cage shut when I was done.

I think it was living with Chloe that made Honey the nervous wreck that she was. She'd cower pathetically in the corner. I'd take her out a lot and soothe her, but she just wouldn't calm down enough.

One day, I decided to take all of them to the vet to get checked for health. In particular, I wanted to find out if something was wrong with Chloe. She'd outgrown her weird cripple-hop, but she was just so angry all the time. My roommates called her the demon rabbit. We could hear the sound of her angry thumps all the way in the living room.

I took them in, and they were each weighed (Chloe with a towel around her) and their claws were trimmed (Chloe flailed herself out of the arms of the vet and landed weirdly, breaking a nail off and bleeding profusely all over the clean floor of the examining room.)

The vet examined all of them and told me something surprising: contrary to what the pet shop people told me, Chloe was not female. She was a he. The vet said that Chloe was actually quite normal, just... how did he put it? "Feisty."

Well if that's feisty, I don't want to know what disturbed is. Or rabid. A rabid rabbit must be a thing of montypythonic proportions.

Well, it was a toss up. I most definitely couldn't put Chloe and Rudy together. I tried it once, and Chloe had hunks of fur out of him within the first three seconds.

I was concerned about the pairing of Chloe and Honey, for reasons I already explained. And I figured that, as Honey was not old enough by the book to have babies yet, maybe I'd be all right putting her in with Rudy, who was sweet and companionable, until I could buy a third cage.

A month later, I bought the third cage and put Rudy in it, leaving Honey in the first which was much larger, cusher and had more bunny toys. I figured she needed the TLC.

Four weeks later, she was tearing hair from her chest and belly and shredding newspaper. I'd read enough rabbit books to know what that meant, and so I gave her lots more newspaper and called around at pet stores to see if they would take mini rex/ netherland dwarf mix rabbits. I was worried about her, as she was supposed to be too young to have babies, and so I watched and fed her carefully. A couple of days later, I discovered her babies, which were actually quite a bit bigger than I'd been told they should be, and they had lots of hair too.

Wierd. Oh well. Three weeks later, I sold them..

and then two days later, I found eight MORE.

I stood in front of her cage, watching the little, squirming, eraser-pink rabbits (which were quite a bit smaller, and quite a bit more hairless than the last batch had been when I discovered them) and then finally came up with what must have happened-- She'd already had her babies when I switched rudy out of the cage. She'd just hidden her nest somewhere I couldn't see until I moved the furniture around, and then she kept adding her fur because she didn't have enough newspaper. Rudy'd impregnated her AGAIN, within days of her giving birth to her first litter. It happened not once, but TWICE within the month of her rooming with Rudy.

I read my rabbit book again and found that, when a female rabbit is paired with a male, she matures much faster (sexually) than she does in a cage by herself.

Well, I sold her second litter and examined her sadly-- she was very thin and tired looking.

I thought to myself, I'm a terrible person. I can't handle rabbits-- I can barely handle my own two year old. It was accidental cruelty, but cruelty nonetheless.

I called mom and asked her if she'd take my rabbits home with her and sell them. She graciously agreed to do so. I think that my two little sisters enjoyed them while they were there and gave Honey and Rudy some good attention. Chloe, I hope they left alone. But my sisters still have all their fingers, so I figure my Mom advised them on that score.

Mom found a good home for Honey and Rudy, but (surprise, surprise) could not place Chloe. Nobody wanted him. And so she decided that she would put a little rabbit hut in our orchard and let him romp around in there-- she lives in a very temperate climate, and there's plenty of rabbit fodder in the overgrown jungle of the fenced in area our family calls an orchard.

Chloe LOVED the freedom. He would run all over the place. My little sisters would go down to feed the sheep and they'd see Chloe out there in the middle of a grassy field, jumping ecstatically, doing back twists, springing madly all over the place. One time my grandma, who lives below us, called and asked whether my mom had gotten a dog-- a weird brown and white creature was growling and dashing in and out of her garden.

Sadly, Chloe's freedom only lasted for a few weeks. A coyote got him in the end. I feel badly about that, because I know I could have done better by him. Maybe bunny obedience school? Is there a such thing as bunny therapy? Or bunny juvenile lock-down?

At any rate, my one comfort is this-- the last few weeks of his life were the happiest a bunny could ever have. Ever. And it was quick.

Thus ends the first of the Nosurf Rodent Chronicles.

4 comments:

Maren said...

Happy New Year to you! I hope you have a wonderful 2007.

texasblu said...

I loved your story! We had rabbits growing up, so I identified. :D

Hope you had a great holiday! HAPPY NEW YR!!! :)

Anonymous said...

That was well written, and amusing!

Sister Mary Lisa said...

What a great story. I felt like I was right there, peeking in fear into the dark depths of your tiled closet, hoping the demon Chloe wouldn't get me.