In just twelve more days we’ll be turning out the nest box and sending our newest litter of babies off …
There are two things about rabbits people are always surprised to hear. The first is that rabbits like to play. Most people think rabbits just stay in a cage and wait politely for someone to come pet them. That’s hardly the case, or at least it should never be. Rabbits love to play, especially with “their people” and just like people, rabbits have individual preferences. All of our rabbits have a ball of some type in their hutch. Some like to slam-dunk the ball in their water crock (that’s three points, folks!) and others toss the ball or shake it to rattle the bell inside. A lot of our rabbits like to play “chase me,” and one loves to chase us. Here’s a scene: dog takes off chasing a squirrel, rabbit takes off chasing the dog. You have to laugh. That happens to be the same rabbit that loves to play hide-n-seek. Even though they don’t necessarily get along with others of the same gender (although rabbits would probably take well to speed dating events), rabbits often include their owners in their play. While sitting in the “Tea Garden” (a fancy name for the area in our yard where the fluffers have full run), relaxing with a glass of iced tea or a sip of wine, the buns often deviate from their run to come over and say, “hi.” A tug on your pant leg or a paw tap let’s you know somebunny is looking for their ears to be scratched before they hop along for a nice long dig in the sand box. They’re good helpers, too; when Dad is planting something new in the garden, Benny is always digging right by his side.
The second thing that surprises people is that rabbits are NOT quiet. Maybe wild rabbits are especially quiet, but since I’ve only observed a few in the wild and never heard one (which probably proves the point) I can’t speak to their habits. Domesticated breeds on the other hand are hardly quiet. Probably because they don’t seem to demonstrate fear like most prey animals. Our dog, a natural enemy of wild rabbits, is one of our fluffers favorite playmates. Domesticated rabbits have a broad range of vocalizations as well as a physical vocabulary, and between our Flemish, Thriantas, and the rescue pets, none of them are shy about expressing themselves. (I won’t get into rabbit body language here – that’s an additional vocabulary all its own.) Rabbits will stomp, scratch at the floor or ground, snort like pigs (usually while awaiting their dinner tray), bark, throw things, and whack things on the hutch door (Warden, we want out!). Thankfully rabbits only rarely scream (you never, ever want to hear a rabbit scream. It’s horrible and means something very, very bad has happened). While rabbits won’t bark like the dog at the doorbell, or a doorbell on TV, they will let you know what they’re feeling and have kept many a rabbit owner awake at night with their commentary.
I’ve never heard a quiet rabbit (har-har). So when a rabbit decides to tell you something it’s because they want you to pay attention and because they like you. Rabbits never talk to strangers.