My name is Chevy and since Easter is right around the corner I want to talk to the residents of Tacoma and neighboring areas about giving bunnies as gifts and about the issue that we have in our area with feral rabbits. You may not realize it but many of the bunnies that you might see in our area are not wild rabbits and are, were, or are related to a domestic rabbit that was once someone’s pet. My story has a happy ending but that’s not the same for all feral rabbits in the Puget Sound.
According to my Mom our story started a long time ago when her Great-Great-Grandmother was set free in the yard. After a few days she found a house that had an opening at the bottom and she went in to get out of the rain. It was scary under there but it was safe and dry. A few months later she met the rabbit that would be my Grandfather and they made the under side of this a home for many generations of rabbits. Sometimes the people that moved into the house were mean and chased or hurt the rabbits that lived under the house.
Our family are not the only feral rabbits in our neighborhood and every spring, around Easter, there would be more and more young rabbits set free in the yards of our neighbors. Many of them didn’t live very long because of loose dogs, mean people, cars, poison and not having a place to go. These are just some of the reasons that my Mom said that people were bad and she told me a lot of scary stories about humans.
When I was born early last spring, a couple was moving into the house that we lived under. They had lots of pets and were a little different than the other people that had lived here before. The woman had seen my Mom and her friends in the yard a few times eating flowers and grass, and she even set water out for them a few times. Even though this woman was different, Mom said that we had to be very careful that she didn’t find out that we lived under the house or else she could try and hurt us. One night the man that lived in the house saw my Mom running under the house. She was cold, wet and covered in mud because she had been out in the rain trying to find something to eat.
The next day Mom thought that we would be in trouble since the man saw her. When morning came Mom went to the opening from under the house, she was scared that she might find that the humans closed it off or set a trap. She came back to me confused and told me that there was a can of cat food just inside the opening. Did the humans think that we would eat that? Mom joked that she must have looked like a cat the night before and that the humans were trying to feed us. I wouldn’t say that Mom trusted the humans now but she was certainly more at ease with these humans.
Over the next several days Mom and her friends went back to their normal days of eating grasses and flowers in our yard. I was finally allowed to come out from under the house but could only stay in a small area near the opening under the house. Mom always said that if any dogs came into the yard or if I saw or heard people that I should run under the house and hide. After a few weeks Mom saw the woman from inside the house a lot. The woman would smile and watch her and her friends eating in the yard. Everything was happy and peaceful until the horrible day in April when my Mom was murdered.
It’s a day that I will never forget. Mom said that I was getting to be a big boy now that I was 6 weeks old and that I could come farther out into the yard with her and her friends while they ate. We waited until the man and the woman left the house and then we went into the yard to eat. Normally we didn’t go into the front yard because it was farther away from the opening under the house and the yard is fenced on three sides leaving the back open so other animals, like dogs, could get into the yard.
One of Mom’s friends noticed a big dog in the back of the property and she made a loud thump with her foot to let us all know that it was there and then she ran away through a small gap in the fence in the front yard. Mom told me to get close to the house and when she said to run I was to run to the opening under the house and hide. The dog spotted us and she told me to run and not look back. I ran as fast as I could and I could hear Mom screaming and the dog making noise too. Then I heard the woman’s car pull up, I was close to the opening to get under the house but I was scared and Mom wasn’t coming yet.
Suddenly I heard the woman from the house yelling at the dog. She sounded like she was panicking and screamed at it as she chased it. I saw the dog run from the woman with my Mom’s limp and bleeding body in its mouth. It was just like the scary stories that Mom told. I knew that I was going to die. Mom was gone, I was still a baby, and the human was head my way.
I could see the woman coming closer to me but I was in shock and far to scared to move. She seemed very upset. At first I thought that maybe she was mad because Mom and I were in the front yard. Then she looked down at me. I was filled with fear and panic. What was she going to do to me? The woman reached down and picked me up and held me close to her. There were wet drops running out of her eyes and she told me that it was going to be ok. She got down on her knees and looked in our opening to see if there were more babies like me. All of my brothers and sisters had died when I was just a few weeks old because Mom couldn’t find food, so it was just me.
The woman took me inside the house and dried off my fur with a towel. I had been so scared that I didn’t even realize that I was wet. She held me in her lap and got this funny looking box thing, that I now know is a lap top, and started pushing buttons in it telling me that she was looking to see what she could feed me. Her body was warm and she gave me something soft to lay on. It wasn’t long till I fell asleep. When I woke up she was taking pictures of me and talking to another box, that I now know is a cell phone, about me. She gave me food and water and a warm, soft, dry place to sleep.
Today, I still live with the humans in the house. They call me their “baby bunny boy,” feed me yummy food, give me clean water that’s not from a puddle, make sure that my house is clean and dry, and they let me run around the house and chase the cats. Even though all of my brothers and sisters died and my Mom was killed by a loose dog, I am a luck feral rabbit. Many other rabbits don’t get taken in by humans after then have been set free in a yard. Every year hundreds of feral rabbits and newly released domestic rabbits die in our community because of poison, traps, wildlife, dogs, cars, humans and other issues. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Don’t give bunnies as gifts and then set them free outside. Many bunnies that are set free each year starve to death because although we are rabbits, we are domestic rabbits and are not able to take care of ourselves alone. We can have a long life and are not meant to be a part of your life for a short period of time. If your set on giving a bunny as a pet make sure that the person your giving it to can handle a bunny and really wants to be there for the bunny for the next 12 years or more. The Human Society has bunnies that need new homes and if you already have one you can get your bunny fixed at Coalition Humane for a low cost. We really are great pets, just ask my human adoptive Mom Heather.
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