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RUNNING BUN MAGAZINE - All things "bunnified," news from the rabbit multiverse, deep down in the Earth, where it's still warm.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Secret Voice of Rabbits


Nightmares and Parrot Wannabe's

Late, Like a White Rabbit

Hello again bunny peeps! It's me, RP, RabbitPhotog, and sorry for being so slow to get back to this series; The Secret Voice of Rabbits. I was getting ready to write this post right before Halloween but got delayed. So the day after Halloween, or rather on November 2, the Day of the Dead, or All Soul's Day, I had an eerie reminder to do it.

You see here at our little bunny photography studio, MagicMan (my photography assistant, rabbit handler, keeper, and spousal unit) and I noticed a long time ago that bunny rabbits love  movies. Oh, they love some TV shows, too, but mostly they love movies. They like the kind of movies in which the people talk to each other a lot. Not argumentative characters arguing a lot (although when done just so by top Hollywood talent, they do seem to love a good argument) but characters just having good, genuine conversations. One example is Miss Potter! But you know, we'll come back to that as I just know my esteemed bunny social critic, Thumper S. Thompson will want to weigh on that and he'd be upset with me for blazing any trails on that topic. So look for that down the road, folks.

A scene from "Miss Potter," (left) and Beatrix Potter's original pencil drawing from which this scene is taken.

So we have TV's with DVD players spread about the place so the bunnies can view some great entertainment. Mostly, it's horse movies like Seabiscuit, Secretariat, and War Horse, and literally a dozen others (after all, TST says horses are just really big bunnies!). But, as usual, I digress. The point in mentioning this was that on Halloween night, we watched a good Halloween movie, Fright Night. MagicMan likes it because he's a huge Dr. Who fan. Along with Colin Farrell, Fright Night stars David Tennant, who, MagicMan says played the best Dr. Who. I have to agree as I think he's probably the best actor to yet play that part.


The Scream

During Fright Night, as in any vampire movie, there's lots of screaming by the women victims. And then the night after watching it, we woke up in terror when we heard one if these screams right next to us! Imagine, we woke to hear a rabbit screaming! Rabbits only ever scream when they think their life is in danger, what was going on! I could tell it was coming from MagicMan's favorite little kooky, goofball buddy rabbit, Magic (yes, MagicMan's favorite bunny's name is Magic, coinkydink?). Was he having a nightmare? Did the movie we'd just watched the night before give him nightmares? We would never want him to watch anything that gave him nightmares!

No, Magic wasn't having a nightmare. He was wide awake when he let out his scream, although it wasn't a really loud one, a rabbit scream is truly loud and this was not. It was...almost like a mimic of a scream, a taunting type of sound. In his younger years, when he first came to us, this quirky little albino bunny did used to have nightmares and he did used to sometimes wake up screaming from those nightmares which, you can imagine, scared the bejesus out of us. So why was he taunting us and purposely scaring us?

Rabbit Parody on Edvard Munch's The Scream
A Rabbit Parody of Edvard Munch's The Scream

Magic had come from a very scary situation where someone had over 100 rabbits running around a small, suburban home breeding out of control. Almost all the rabbits taken from that situation were albino and the rest solid black as this is what happens with severe inbreeding. Many had parts of their ears missing as well, but for the most part, they were all in good health, probably because they were still pretty young. 

So here Magic came. He no longer had to fight over food with other rabbits, no longer had to fight over territory or anything. He has his own spacious custom-designed domain and a human who dotes on him like the way Tom Waits' character in Seven Psychopaths dotes on his albino rabbit. His nightmares lingered for a while after first coming here but then as he acclimated to the sound of several large parrots in the next room, the nightmares went away.

MagicMan and MagicRabbit cuddle on the bed.
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In becoming part of a family of avid movie fans, he, along with the other bunnies, watched lots of movies and TV shows and was carefully desensitized to them. Part of my background as an animal photographer includes an advanced understanding of operant conditioning, i.e., animal behavior, so the bunnies were carefully desensitized to scary movies over time. Movies like The Lord of the Rings trilogy with the Orcs, Uruk Hai, and whatnot, were part of that program. This went beautifully and many hilarious stories arose from the experience. 

Of Mimicry and Puppetry

All the bunnies became quickly aware that there is a very real thing such as talking animals. Not only that, but the ones who talk, do so very loudly. And if you think parrots don't know what they're talking about, then I suggest you read up on Alex the African Grey and free your mind, man (as TST would say). Don't think that your bunnies don't know what's going on either. Just last year, the top minds in science declared that animals are as aware as humans. With that comes a certain species jealousy which develops when an animal is first confronted with an intelligent, vocal parrot. When one of my parents' dogs first met my then young Amazon parrot, and was greeted with a hearty "Hello!", the dog, a highly intelligent poodle, looked shocked, ran off and sat in the corner facing the wall like he would do whenever he was being ridiculed. I felt sorry for the little fellow as I could sense his embarrassment and shame for not having a mouth which could easily speak words. But there are dogs that talk, too, and quite well. Like Mischka, the husky. Maybe you've even seen Mischka in one of her TV commercials for a bank!

The bunnies are no different. They listen and absorb what's going on around them and try to tell us things. Little Magic bunny has told us a couple of times now that he does have a pretty good sense of humor, and that he is completely desensitized to scary movies but that he also knows we are not desensitized to scary bunnies! So he will, very seldom, scare the pantaloons off of us with a fake scare by mimicking a scream now and then. We've noticed it's usually a day or two after we watch a scary movie (as we are not in the habit of watching this genre) but then, again, maybe he's being a movie critic, of sorts, in doing this. Or maybe he just gets a big kick out of scaring us! We know he has a great sense of humor, as many rabbits do, because of the way he uses his ceramic pellet and water crocks to imitate our Tibetan Singing Bowls alarm clock if we haven't set it. Yea, and he knows exactly when it would have gone off if, indeed, it had been set. I digress again! The point is, Magic Rabbit is a pretty magical guy with a wicked sense of humor. ¹

The point is, rabbits scream. But they may not just scream when they think they're about to be killed. Sometimes, if they feel very secure in their environment, and if it's a very stimulating environment in which they must really exude their personality to compete with showy and show off parrots, they may scream just to have fun watching your reaction. Or, maybe it's to get even with those loud birds. Maybe. The birds all love the bunnies, and the largest of our parrots even used to have a bunny as a pet. The bunny would sleep every night in the bottom of the parrot's cage and the parrot would very carefully do his business in a far corner of the cage. He would toss her some of his pellets, too.

But that's another story for another day. In my next post in this series, The Secret Voice of Rabbits, I'll talk about just one of the secret things you can tell your rabbit to help the both of you make a much better bunny photo. And I still haven't even gotten to the part about their secret voices! All in good time. Meanwhile, I'm pretty busy bonding some bunnies right now so I know Thumper S. Thompson will step in here to pinch hit for me with another post soon.

Until then, tread lightly!


¹ "Anthropomorphism is a theory which presupposes its own validity." -Dr. Donald R. Griffin, Animal Minds


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