Thursday, December 10, 2015

"Nasty Big Pointy Teeth"

The Monty Python fans among you will immediately recognize from the title that I'm going to write about rabbits today. And not just any rabbits. Not the fluffy, gentle, innocent rabbits almost everyone imagines. No, I'm going to write about the vicious ones. Vicious rabbits? How is that possible you ask? Remember this - the rabbit has no idea that he is cute and cuddly and harmless looking to a human. He may seem a nervous, timid creature much of the time because he is a prey species after all, but in an environment where he has learned to become confident, his true self may emerge.

As evidence I offer the following telephone conversation I had with a client a few years ago:

Ms. Fitzsimmons, "Dr. Schott, thank you for coming to the phone right away. I'm calling from my bedroom."
This seemed like an unnecessary detail. I became faintly alarmed.
"Yes?" I offered cautiously.
"It's Mr. Cuddles, I don't know what's wrong with him!"
Mr. Cuddles was a small floppy-eared grey rabbit that she had had for about a year.
Relieved, I asked, "what symptoms are you seeing?"
"He's gone crazy!"
"Oh? What is he doing that seems crazy?"
"My bedroom is at the end of the hall where his little house is. He won't let me past his house!"
"Won't let you past?"
"Yes! He attacks me and bites me!"
"Um... how long has this been going on?"
"All morning! He just gets madder and madder every time I try! I don't know what to do! I need to get out! What's wrong with him?"

What was wrong with Mr. Cuddles? Nothing really. He was just a highly territorial male rabbit allowed to roam free whose "lair" had been set up in the hallway. With time he became confident enough to defend his lair. I told Ms. Fitzsimmons to come out of her room holding a blanket in front of her and then to toss the blanket onto Mr. Cuddles so that she could quickly sprint past. I told her that once things settled down she should wait until he was sleeping in his house and then scoop him up with a towel, put him in a cage and bring him in to be neutered. Neutering doesn't always help, but in this case taking the testosterone out of him plus moving his house to a far corner of an unused room seemed to do the trick.

The words of Leo Tolstoy come to mind: "It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness."
Or, in case of killer rabbits: "It is amazing how complete is the delusion that cuteness is innocence."

For those few and misguided that have not seen 
"Monty Python and The Holy Grail", it offers a more
graphic illustration of what rabbits are capable of.

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