Bunny Jaws

I apologize for the delay on bunny jaws. We had a major distraction begin last week. I will be posting on that in the future.

Bunny Jaws Cartoon

The  Story of Bunny Jaws

It was one of those warm sunny afternoons in the living room. It was so quiet and peaceful with zenlike tranquility. Our princess bunny rabbit Tigger had her legs tucked underneath in her bunny hen sleeping position. I didn’t see Shadow, but like his name, he very often would hang out blending in with the shadows.

With the sun shining in through the windows, the room had that comfortable warmth and I was getting sleepy. I had been reading a magazine on the sofa and decided to enjoy a brief nap. I didn’t hear or feel anything, but after a bit I sensed something. I opened my eyes and saw the actions in the cartoon unfold before my eyes. It was an incredible scene from Jaws enacted by a furry pretender. The black snout rose up slowly and silently over the edge of the sofa. The jaws opened up showing all those sharp little teeth. Then with breathtaking speed, the jaws snapped closed on the spine of the magazine and dragged it over the edge and down, racing away with the prey.

I never saw Shadow’s eyes or ears, just his mouth. He must have scoped out his raid from a distance, because he knew exactly where the magazine was and grabbed it and took off with it without needing to check its location. I was stunned and not sure at first that I wasn’t dreaming. Seeing him with the magazine, I realized it was real. Right away, I wanted to write the story down and do some thumbnail sketches. Talk about inspiration being right under your nose. As I was writing and sketching on a pad of paper, bunny jaws came back. Shadow hopped up beside me and gnawed on the side of the pad of paper trying to take it away from me the entire time I was working on capturing the moment.

Beware Bunny Jaws! When they are loose, nothing is safe! Nothing is sacred!

Coming Wednesday, Shadow’s many nicknames …

Shadow the Bunny Goat

Shadow perched on high

Shadow loved to head for the heights

Shadow introducing himself to some stuffed rabbits

No matter how high we put things, Shadow would go for them. Here he is actually standing on the top of a covered litter box.

Shadow looking to serve himself something to chew

Shadow looking to serve himself something to chew. Fortunately the white you see at the bottom of the round tunnel is Blaine's foot holding it from rolling away with Shadow

Shadow was like a goat for two reasons.  Like a mountain goat, he liked to bounce around up, down and around everything.  Nothing was much of a barrier to him.  He was incredibly sure-footed and very athletic. He loved the heights.

There were times he would begin the Bunny 500 around the living room without ever touching the floor.  Shadow would hop up on the sofa, run the length and make the leap three feet over to the top of the cages and then run across the loveseat which was beside the cages.  Then he would hit the floor and sometimes fly up and down the stairs and then do the highland trek across the furniture again.

Like a goat, Shadow seemed to feel everything he sunk his teeth into was consumable.  There simply wasn’t anything he didn’t try to chew up and eat. For years to come there will most likely be things we will come across that will have teeth marks and the percentages say that it will be Shadow’s work.

Over the years, I read a lot of articles about whether rabbits should be caged or completely free range.  All I can say is with a rabbit like Shadow, the only way to keep him safe was to have him in a fully enclosed cage when we were not there to supervise him.  Even with us there, over the years, he learned a very sneaky almost silent chewing.  We had to be very alert when Shadow was out to where he was and what he was doing.  We kept scolding him, telling him he was going to really mess up his tummy.  Honestly, with everything he chewed, I don’t know how he managed to stay as healthy as he was.  It truly seemed he must have a stomach like a goats.

We also had to discourage his tendency to want to switch things up from mountain goat.  Sometimes we would find Shadow on the very top of the sofa walking along the back.  Once before we could get to him, he leaped off and spread his legs out just like a flying squirrel.  Not being equipped with the weblike wings like a flying squirrel, he of course dropped like a rock four feet down to the floor.  It knocked the breath out of him, but not the desire to try it again.  We had to be really vigilant to grab him the minute he would make a leap for the sofa back.

Shadow had greater strength and athletic ability compared to Tigger.  He was a bit bigger when full grown which could have made the difference.  Being a different breed could have played a part too.  He also got a big head start.  Tigger had to learn what she could do on her own.  During the first two months we had Shadow, while they had separate run and play times until being fixed, Shadow was able to see everything Tigger had learned to do.  It really jumpstarted him and he was doing the sames things at a much earlier age than Tigger.  It was clear Shadow learned quickly and easily by following her example and then he surpassed her abilities.  The one advantage Tigger had over Shadow was speed.  She was much lighter and faster while running.  When Shadow tried to speed up while running, he wouldn’t take the turns as quickly and smoothly as Tigger and would sometimes clip the walls.

In later years, we had to rearrange furniture to keep Shadow from making the bunny goat leap from the sofa to the cages.  The spirit was still very willing and wanting, but he started to not quite make it well enough for maintaining his safety.

Coming tomorrow, bunny jaws …


Deaf, Dumb and Stupid – Not!

Shadow on dining room chair

Planning my next move ...

Shadow is a particularly stubborn bunny. For months after we first brought him home, we thought he was a bit stupid, because he wasn’t appearing to understand or respond to “No! Bad Bunny!”  We had Tigger for two months prior to bringing Shadow home and Tigger understood and did not like to be called “Bad Bunny or be spoken to sharply. She would stop what she was doing and hop off.  Then later she would try to slink back to the bad behavior once she thought our attention was on something else.

Then I discovered Shadow clearly did understand “Bad Bunny”.  One day after I had chased him away from chewing furniture, we settled down for some head pets which he loves.  I had caught him mishbehaving with his chewing and now I was kind of chewing him out verbally. I was saying things like, “Why do you have to be such a bad bunny. You know how to be a good bunny. You don’t have to be a bad bunny.” Shadow suddenly stood up, turned around and looked at me with his head tipped to the side. It was clear he was questioning me.

That is when I realized he did know the difference between “Bad Bunny” and “Good Bunny”. I had confused him by petting him and calling him a “Bad Bunny”. After that Blaine and I both watched him more closely when he misbehaved.  We realized that when we would start calling him “Bad Bunny”, he was trying to misbehave faster. He knew how much time it would take us to physically get to him and he was speeding up the bad activity trying to get it done before we could stop him. Stubborn bad bunny!

When the rabbits are out of our line of sight and we hear “bad chewing”, we immediately start to loudly say or yell (depends on our distance to them), “No! Bad Bunny”.  That will stop Tigger, but with Shadow, we have to physically get to him.  Usually we distract him with something he can chew.  If it is the second time on the same bad activity, we try to relocate him to another part of the house to get him focused on something else.

We make sure to spend quality time with the rabbits interacting with them.  Bored bunnies easily become bad bunnies. 

Rabbit Sounds

Tigger & Shadow at play

Just look at the mess we made with our toys and hay. It was so much fun!

To the uninitiated, rabbits seem totally quiet since they don’t bark or meow. For those in the know, rabbits rumble doing the Bunny 500. You had also better beware the guinea pig like grunt. The growl sounds cute, but could be followed up with a lunge and bite that won’t be so cute.

We have also learned to listen for sounds of bunny misbehavior. It is amazing that we have become attuned over the years to the differences in a bunny who is eating or chewing a safe toy and a bunny who is consuming the house and furnishings.

With careful bunny parent training to fine tune our hearing observation, we can now identify bunny activities by sound. We can hear the difference between a bunny who is chewing on cardboard, paper, or toy chews from one who is chewing the carpet, furnishings, baseboards, and yes even the plaster and drywall! As we are in other rooms from Tigger and Shadow, one of us will often suddenly jump and run yelling to head off the offending rabbit.

I know some people will think we should never yell.  We usually need to with Shadow who will chew and quickly swallow things.  Household paint, pillow and furniture stuffing, sheets, and carpet are all very bad for a rabbit’s digestive system.  Human parents will yell to warn and try to stop a child in danger as they race to get to the child.  Since rabbit’s warn each other of danger by thumping, we yell and we thump our feet to try to try to distract and stop them as we are moving to reach them to prevent them from swallowing harmful things.

Shadow in particular seems to feel he is a bunny goat and can eat anything he can sink his little teeth into.  In the cartoon Futurama, one of the characters picked up an alien pet animal she called Nibbler.  When people weren’t looking, Nibbler would consume whole planets.  Had we seen that character when Shadow was a baby, we might have called him Nibbler.

More about Shadow the bunny goat later today…