The bun-lover community is aghast, Twitter all a-chirp with the news from England: Darius, the holder of the Guinness title for world’s largest rabbit, is missing! The poor pet was poached April 10 from an outdoor enclosure at his home in Stoulton, Worcestershire, inspiring one of the New York Times’ most emailed articles last week. As a bunny blogger, I feel a duty, or at least an irresistible urge, to add my three cents.
My First Reaction
I’m going to make a terrible confession here. I had the same initial reaction to this news that I have to a lot of celebrity demises: “He was still alive?!?”
Usually my response can be traced to the scarce attention I pay to the comings and goings of the jet set, but in this case my reaction was more biology-based. Darius received his Guinness World Record eleven years ago. According to the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund, “ On average you can expect a giant rabbit to live 4 – 6 years….” Darius is 12 years old! As the designated world record holder for the largest bun, that lifespan is extraordinary! Kudos to his owner, Annette Edwards, for what must be outstanding husbandry.
Anyway, it’s not like being the world’s biggest fluff-tail gets you in the news every day. So I honestly assumed Darius would have passed on by now. But no, he was reportedly alive and well until the fateful evening when he was snatched.
What Kind of Slime Bag Would Do This?
As a fellow bunparent, I’m outraged! Who would steal another person’s pet? Were they —
- Out to make a fast buck on the sale of a celebrity lagomorph?
- Eager to gloat over possession of a world-record-holding flopper-hopper?
- Just vicious and spiteful?
Ms. Edwards must be beside herself with worry, and indeed, she’s offering a £2000 reward for his return.
Beyond that, the stress to Darius, now a vulnerable geriatric bun, must be terrible as well. Rabbits don’t like to travel. Like most creatures, they need a calm, predictable environment and a routine. As prey animals, stress can have serious health consequences. Edwards says he’s on a special diet that’s essential to his health. She also fears he may be dumped, and, unable to run due to his advanced age, become a quick meal for a fox.
It’s been widely reported that the general craving for pandemic pets has increased incidents of petnapping. This is particularly true in England. Dog thefts doubled or more in some areas between 2019 and 2020, the BBC reports . Perhaps Darius’s calamity is related to this trend.
This is a terrible blow to a megafluffer who has already led a challenging life. Darius wasn’t a freak of nature, just an exceptionally big example of the Continental Giant breed. Still, it can’t have been easy representing his title as the largest of his kind. Up until just three years ago, he and his owner maintained an active travel schedule including appearances on TV shows and events around the world. That busy lifestyle would take its toll on anyone.
For example, take the best-known photo of the mega-bun, which I riffed on above. He’s held suspended in a precariously outstretched position — for the sake of demonstrating how long he is. When I look at his eye, part of the white is visible. While I realize it may be presumptive to diagnose from a snapshot, that may well be what’s called “whale eye”. It’s a classic indicator of stress in an animal.
You’ve probably seen this in your own bun and come to realize that it correlates with fear. Patricia McConnell described it as “’Horror Movie Face,’ in which one tries to turn away from something too scary to watch, but can’t take their eyes off of it, because, well, it’s scary and therefore dangerous.”
Even if he’s not scared, Darius can’t be comfortable in those stretched out, suspended positions. He’s putting up with considerable inconvenience to fulfill his role representing the giant buns of the world. And all to satisfy our human curiosity.
Still the biggest?
Although he may still be the holder of the Guinness Book of World Records title for largest rabbit, Darius’s title seems to have been in jeopardy. Even his owner speculated in a 2015 video that Darius’s young son, Geoffrey, was expected to overtake his pop in size.
According to this LiveScience article, another Darius progeny, Dexter, is the current title holder. However, that assertion contradicts the Guinness web site, where Darius remains listed.
And there’s been still more recent news about big bunnies. Just last month I saw an article about a student in Mexico who has bred perhaps even bigger specimens.
The Big Data on Darius
Darius’ exact Guinness title is “Longest Living Rabbit.” That’s confusing because it could be interpreted to mean he’s the oldest, but it actually means his length is greatest of all living rabbits.
Darius is a Continental Giant, one of a few oversized rabbit breeds. He measured 4 ft. 3 in. (129 cm) on April 6, 2010. Just for grins, I measured Finnegan (probably a New Zealand White) while he was relaxing in one of his famous SuperBun poses. We call him our big boy, but he’s only about 26 inches.
The article tangentially references the previous record, without mentioning Darius by name and implies this student has surpassed it, but declines to specify how big the Mexican bunhemoths are. Might there be rumblings re: rabbit records among the Guinness management team?
The Fluffy Tail of This Blog Post
The dastardly theft of long-bodied and long-lived Darius from his happy Worcestershire home has shaken the bun-lover world. I’d like to extend my sincere sympathy to his owner, Ms. Edwards. I hope he is soon located and returned safely to her care.