Tuesday, 30 August 2011


Whatever made me think I knew how to take care of rabbits? I once assumed that all they needed were alfalfa pellets, carrots, weeds, and water. I also figured that bunnies could only be kept in cages and that they thrived in tight quarters.

Many years later, the realization that I was abismally uninformed about the physical and psychological needs of these herbivores finally sunk in. The House Rabbit Handbook by Marinell Harriman proved to me the extent of my ignorance and gave me the resolve to care for bunnies properly in future.

In When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies), I described how my lack of knowledge took the life of one sweet, handsome animal.


In 1989, I bought a bunny from a breeder who built me a large hutch with sliding dropping pans. Since the bunny had medium brown fur with dark brown points, I named him Mr. Chocolate.

He was most likely an American Sable and had a patch of white fur on his left front paw as if there weren't enough pigment to go around. That disqualified him as a show rabbit. However, he was an affectionate and intelligent bunny.

One September evening, I gave Mr. Chocolate some stalks of stinkweed from the garden. He wolfed them down, as he did the dandelions and other greens which I habitually brought him.

When I went to feed him the next morning, he refused to eat his alfalfa pellets. Figuring Mr. Chocolate would soon eat again, I decided not to bother taking him to a vet. I'd heard somewhere
that certain animals occasionally go off their feed, so I waited for my bunny to resume eating.

Mr. Chocolate's health deteriorated and my new furry friend died about a year later from an intestinal blockage. After he died, I was depressed because my inaction had killed him. Though the rabbit had lived with me for only fifteen months, he had claimed a place in my heart and won me over with his charm.

Mr. Chocolate was so much a part of my daily routine that the house felt empty without him and I soon yearned to have another bunny.


When a Man Loves a Rabbit contains many more fascinating stories of life with house bunnies. These range from the tragic to the hilarious. Click here to read more about this book and to order it. You may also e-mail me directly if the comment form doesn't work.

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