Did you know that a bank check will be good as long as its key fields are intact? No matter how mangled or missing the rest is, if the date, recipient, amounts, signature, and check number are there, it’s still negotiable. One of my rabbits, Sammy, taught me this little financial factoid the hard way.
Dark-eyed and Holstein-patched, the late Sammy had an uncanny knack for locating and snatching paperwork off any horizontal surface he could reach. Everything from gift certificates to work notes were nibbled into impromptu doilies by his busy choppers. (I sometimes took advantage of this, employing him as a whisker-faced document shredder.) And yes, one time he chewed the number off a refund check before I could stop him, making that one unrecoverable.
Rabbits have unforgettable ears that twist and pivot like a pair of ballerinas above their large, languid eyes. Their sweet puff tails are as irresistible as spring flowers in full bloom. But the feature that literally leaves the longest-lasting imprint on bun owners has to be their teeth.
This makes sense since, like human hair and fingernails, a rabbit’s teeth never stop growing. They need to chew on things to file them down or they could face deadly consequences. And a bun’s insistent incisors are also their primary tools for manipulating their environment. Every bunny is an Edward Scissormouth. Hence the need to rabbit-proof your home, for everyone’s safety.
Changing the Channels
I’m reminded of that bunny/world dental interface every time I make a cup of tea. I have a favorite metal diffuser that came with a matching silicone coaster. It sits all cattywampus ever since the night I absent mindedly left it sitting on the coffee table within bunny reach.
Yes, silicone is considered a prime entrée by the owners of bunny teeth. Despite my best efforts, over the years I’ve lost silicone buttons from at least three remote controls, chewed down to unresponsive nubs like corn off a plastic cob.
The worst of those remodeled remotes was the work of a foster bunny named Jupiter. As a short-term guest unknown to our home’s resident rabbits, he stayed in an exercise pen in our bedroom rather than having free-roaming living room privileges.
The remote tumbled off my bedside table in the middle of the night, lodging itself between the bars of the exercise pen, half inside and half out. By morning, the buttons on the inside half were nibbled down to their base, leaving me with a severely abridged set of channel choices.
Overnight Custom Tailoring
Slow to learn, I tried donning a pair of jeans I’d left near Jupiter’s pen overnight, only to find my foot emerging from a sizable hole halfway down one pant leg. I really liked those jeans, and their overnight alteration irked me, mostly because it was entirely my fault — I hadn’t noticed how reachable they were by our ruminant roommate.
Mostly I find the occasional and inevitable clothing damage a fair trade-off for the joy of bun-panionship. Monty and Pixel, a bonded pair now both OTRB, customized several pairs of shoes in my closet with their masticating molars. They were both avid shoe lace chewers — particularly partial to removing the little plastic end pieces. (Fun fact: those things are called aglets.) No big deal – until you need to re-lace with shredded ends.
Another beloved bun, Elwood , found the edges of my clothes most delectable and I grew to treasure the pant and skirt hems trimmed and scalloped by his tiny teeth marks, especially after he was gone.
But my most notorious case of rabbit fashion transformation occurred just before my wedding. Having written our own ceremony, my now-husband and I invited our officiant over for a dress rehearsal before the appointed day. I was focused on correctly reciting my lines when I happened to glance down and witness Pixel, our confetti-spotted glamour girl, chiseling a chunk of lace out of the front edge of my wedding dress!
I decided to just accept her last-minute adjustment and proceed! Looking back, I suppose it was her way of being there with us on the big day, since she couldn’t attend in person.
Ultimately a bun’s toothmarks are their closest equivalent to a signature — something else I’ve used to advantage. My late mom was a greeting card maven who tracked a list of birthdays that must have numbered close to a hundred friends and family. For her kids, a brightly colored envelope would appear with her familiar scrawl almost every week just to say hi. Since her “grandhares” got cards for their “adoptaversaries”, Easter, Christmas, and Valentine’s day, they’d reply with cards of their own — personalized with edges dutifully chewed.
And finally, I carry one truly indelible toothmark — from a rescue rabbit named Oliver. He was an outgoing, happy young lionhead who quickly found a home. After six months Oliver was returned, but soon sought by another potential parent. The applicant passed screening and a date was set for the adoption hand-off.
That day, as I reached into Oliver’s habitat to pick him up and set him on the floor, I didn’t realize how stressed and fearful he had become and failed to read his body language. Before I could even touch him, his teeth latched deep into the back of my hand. He steeled his jaw like a vice grip while his strong back legs kicked and scratched my arm. It was several seconds before he let go. When the adopter walked in the door, blood was still dripping onto the floor. I’d definitely list this moment among my Top Ten Most Awkward.
But really, Oliver just needed to decompress. Eventually he found a home where he could relax and be his true, loving self. The scar on the my right hand is a reminder that any animal under stress can lash out and to watch carefully for the signals they give you.
The Fluffy Tail of This Blog Post
Call it scars or damage if you will, I don’t resent or regret any of the marks I bear from the many buns I’ve known. The ever-growing teeth of a rabbit are the primary tool they use to manipulate their environment, perhaps the equivalent of hands for humans. And with their teeth, rabbits write their longest-lasting love notes on our souls.