Closer to Home: The Flemish Giant

Oh, yes, you heard right. We have “wild” domestic rabbits around here. One of the big cons about living in a college town for grad school is that some people make very short-term, spur of the moment decisions regarding pets. For instance, in our complex, you’re not supposed to have anything that is not contained in a terrarium or aquarium. This means lobsters are in, but cats are out. On a side note, because of that last one, we’re currently in the market for a more pet-friendly home.

However, rules don’t keep people from hiding three cats in their apartment during a marijuana party. They also don’t guarantee that the new manager will be recognized so as not to invite her in to join the party. True story. The issue isn’t the marijuana, the party, or the cats; it was just where they were. The main reason the other half and I stay at the complex is because of a strict non-smoking policy (Yeah, not only is he allergic to elephants, he’s also severely allergic to tobacco smoke).

Anyway, someone must have heard of this story because last summer, we started noticing this hanging around the building around move-out time:

Yeah, that’s right. It’s a ten pound giant black rabbit. The first time we saw it, we thought it was a cat that had eaten the cottontail rabbits which usually hang around the house. And then it decided it liked the other half. Fun fact: rabbits may show affection by running in circles around the object of their affection, in this case the other half.

We tried to keep an eye out for her over the next two days, but she was only letting the neighbors see her out grazing. Worried for her, we tried to figure out what we could do with her. The next time we saw her, she was burrowing under our air conditioner and making a nest out of leaves, hair, and grass. Uh oh. She let us get right up next to her and take a closer look. My family hasn’t had rabbits for years, so when I saw her enlarged dewlap I thought she had goiter (which is an enlarged thyroid usually due to iodine deficiency). At that point, I called my mom, who informed me that burrowing plus dewlap equals babies. Who knew? I thought they needed bucks to do that. Just kidding.

The next morning, we decided to go talk to our manager. She didn’t know what to do with it except to call a pest control company, which would humanely euthanize the animal. Being as how it was a very happy, if ginormous, bunny, we convinced her to let us take it to the local animal control to see if they had any better ideas.

We found a box and a bunch of towels, and, having a healthy mistrust of anything with teeth and claws, I lectured the other half on how she would spook and probably try to claw us, so we should be very quick and gentle in getting her in the box. You should know what happened next. We slowly came up on her sitting outside her burrow (which we checked– no babies yet), and I laid the blanket on her. I slowly went to reach around her to pick her up, at which point she bolted. Straight toward the other half. Yeah, that’s right. She ran right up to him, he stuck a blanket in the box, and she cuddled straight up to him and let him put her in the box. To this day, I’m not sure that the other half trusts me when I tell him that feral animals bite.

Anyway, after we got her into the box, we took her to show the manager, who hadn’t yet actually seen her, and then took her on the ride to animal control. There, the workers made sure we weren’t bringing in a tiny brown bunny and a big fish story, then took her from us. We asked them about her later, and she seems to have found a happy home with a family who won’t turn her to the curb when it comes to moving time.

Moral of the story (yeah, you knew it was coming): Any pet, even a simple goldfish, can live for years. It could be one year, but it could also be 50 depending on the animal. Before you get a pet, please take into account all possible life changes, and assume the animal will live for the maximum life span. Not all abandoned pets are going to wind up in the yards of people like us.

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