Bunnified News, Commentary, Social Criticism, Bunzo Journalism

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Prelude to The Secret Voice of Rabbits

Secret Voices of Animals and Math

Hello fellow rabbit lovers and animal lovers. It looks like publication is becoming more monthly. I think that is a better solution for this busy RabbitPhotog and her sidekick, social critic Thumper S. Thompson. We're very busy watching the waves of the future, you see, and picking out which ones of them we want to embrace in this particular rabbit multiverse. Handpicked parallel multiverses, curated for you by two very different, alternative personalities required to exist today in a totally schizo world full of gross injustice, social inequality, and speciesism. Hurrah!

Incredible New Technology

I wanted to make you aware of this new technology which analyzes the brain waves of dogs and uses some pretty heavy duty math to recognize the patterns and match them up to the thought involved. That's right. Hogwash, you might say but the technology exists right now to use thoughts to command machines through a computer interface. If you didn't know that, then you are behind the times. And it's beyond the scope of this one blog post to catch you up. But it's true.

Do You Hear What I Hear? 

And now a group of Scandinavian scientists are breaking a new barrier. But here, take a look at this ***ARTICLE AND WATCH THE VIDEO*** and then come back here, and I'll tell you how, as soon as I saw it, I knew they were about to change things forever.

Back? Ok, good. Now the part of the video when I knew they were really on to something was when they showed someone holding up one of those quote bubbles next to the dog's head and the quite was, "Who are you?" 

Many times, MagicMan and I will be sitting in our backyard on our swing while we are outside with our dogs to play fetch. Our brother and sister German Shepherds don't get along so they are never out at the same time. Our old collie mix, Macintosh and boy GSD, Rocky, come out together and then the girl GSD, Jessie, and her Schipperke mate, Felix, come out together. While Rocky and Mac are out, Jessie, whose inside waiting in her crate, will protest with sad howls until it's her turn to come out. Ever since we first rescued them, we have witnessed this drama. Jessie tries to imitate human speech just like the husky, Mischka, I told you about in a previous post. Correction, I shouldn't say she tries to 'imitate' human speech. I should say she attempts to enunciate English using the inadequate (for speech) muzzle of a German Shepherd. She does manage to get the message across though. She is clearly yelling to us, "I don't love you, I don't love you," over and over. You see, dogs live in the moment and when you appear to show favor to their rival, they don't love you at that moment.

Jessie's howls of this message sound sad rather than angry. And they make me sad to hear her declaring she doesn't love me. So as I throw the highly coveted Kong ball to her brother, I call back to her as imploringly as I can, trying to appeal to her higher dog self who is less jealous, "But Jessie, I love you and I love you so much and you know I'm going to throw ball for you next as long as you want. Don't you know I love you, Jessie?" Usually, she will start whimpering a little more softly and eventually stop with the harsh declarations of, "I don't love you!" And of course, then there are the times when she is about to come out to play and is loudly howling, "I love you! I love you!" which is great,

In this same manner, I have noticed after years of listening to the happy hour howl fest which goes on around our neighborhood, that the dogs are all barking a certain number of times, each which is a symbol for a word. They are barking I sets of four successive barks, "I don't know you! I don't know you!" much of the time as people walk by or a strange dog is being walked out on the street. But they also bark to each other quite regularly because they do know their neighboring dogs quite well. And that bark is just three successive barks, "I know you! I know you!" In days gone by, we had other dogs and other neighbors and those dogs all said the same thing. That's right, they "said" the same thing.

So do you think I'm nuts? Well, fine, I really am not worried about it, especially now since the folks at "No More Woof!" are going to prove I'm right. So if you do think I'm nuts, I suggest you enjoy your last days of ignorant bliss because, as Nostradamus said, "when the animals will be heard to speak," everything changes, everything.

And, yes, I have heard rabbits speak, too. So there. But I'll tell you about that later. Happy holidays and  Happy New Year.

Tread lightly,


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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Bun Jovi: Keep the Faith


The Evolution of the House Rabbit

Ancient History

The origin of keeping rabbits in the hutch came not long after their domestication about three thousand years ago to be a food source for the Romans. Ancient Phoenicians invading the area now known as Spain found such large numbers of these lagomorphs living on the hillsides, they christened this land 'Hispania' - which translates into the Latin word for rabbit.1 Through their conquests and seafaring, Roman domestication of these hardy mammals helped propagate the globe with descendants of the European lagomorpha.

The Kitchen Hutch 

The hutch design we think of today in its traditional form, with top-opening pitched lid and wire mesh bottom on stilts, was kept in the kitchen of large estate homes and palaces so kitchen staff would have the evening meal handy for the slaughter while probably also affording service staff and their children with a temporary pet. Eventually the hutch moved outside as homes got smaller during the rise of the Middle Class in the Victorian era. The idea of keeping rabbits as house pets probably began in this age as the fad of keeping pets in general became popular and possible for more people. No longer suffering from such vast social class division as they had in the age of aristocracies before the French revolution, Western society became more affluent and so did the rabbit's disposition amongst us. Around the beginning of the 20th century, we have evidence of the first house kept rabbit as pets in the West. The rabbit hutch is truly a vestige of the Dark Ages of rabbit history as a food and fur animal.

Generally speaking, backyard hutch rabbits are considered livestock and house rabbits are considered pets. In keeping with the livestock versus family member argument, perhaps the number one reason not to keep a rabbit confined in an outside hutch is due to an overall low quality of life. In the wild, the European rabbit from which all pet rabbits are descended live in very large (150 or more) social groups in complex, underground warrens much like prairie dog cities. In the tunnels of these deep earthen burrows, the temperature and humidity is fairly constant year round. Thus the rabbit is designed only to endure a controlled climate, so to speak.

These two rabbits share a salad on their warm spot on the hearth. They are cherished pets and will live to a ripe old age.
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In an outside hutch, the poor rabbit suffers through extremes of weather - especially in the summer. Nature's design for the rabbit to cool himself is through his huge, wafer thin upright earlobes. These earlobes have hence been genetically engineered, by chance or design, by humans to be smaller and shorter or even flop over as with lop breeds. Unable to cool himself naturally, the hutch rabbit is especially vulnerable to death by heatstroke. Similarly, in the winter, without multiple comrades to snuggle, he cannot keep sufficiently warm and may freeze to death or suffer frostbite of the extremities which ultimately also leads to death. And even if hutch bound with others of his kind, the hutch rabbit still does not have sufficient protection against wind and freezing rain like he would in an underground burrow.

Many people think our domesticated rabbits are the same species as American hares or cottontails and therefore they are well-suited for a life outdoors. They are not. The American hares, or cottontails, have evolved differently and lead vastly different lives having adapted in very different ways. The two species cannot interbreed with their European cousins and even if by some freak of nature they should be mate, the pairing would produce sterile offspring. Domestication has not only changed the body shape of the rabbit and affected his ability to run, defend, cool and warm himself, it has also caused a loss of vital natural instinct so critical for a rabbit to survive in his wild, natural state at the bottom of the food chain.

Terror from Above 

Extremes of weather are hardly the only peril of the hutch rabbit. Most rabbits will die of a heart attack at the mere sight or sound of a predator. And many people do not stop and think about just how many predators the rabbit attracts. Any breed of dog may be interpreted as a predator by the hutch rabbit even though many breeds of dogs can live happily and healthily beside the house rabbit with proper training. The same goes for felines. But the list does not stop there. The sound or sight of a hawk or owl overhead can cause a heart attack in these fragile prey animals. And don't think you don't have any raptors where you live. The peregrine falcon has made a huge comeback in recent years as well as the bald eagle and owls as well are thriving. Though rarely seen, in many urban and suburban areas, raptors are widespread.

Also ubiquitous now though also rarely seen is the dreaded coyote but the predators we are most familiar with and who pose the most dire and immediate threat in most cases is the raccoon. The raccoon is the most successful mammal in North America, even more so than humans as they outnumber us 6 to 1, 2 and they love to eat the toes of rabbits even if that's all they can reach through the wire mesh of a hutch. Raccoons, whose paws contain more nerve endings than our human eyes, 3 are highly intelligent and have been known to pry open many types of cages to steal their prey. In rural areas, garbage cans must be kept in padlocked cages to thwart the attempts of this crafty omnivore. Most hutch rabbits are not even kept as secure as garbage in these outlying areas! Badgers, skunks, rats, bobcats, bears, and weasels are just part of the list of enemies of the hutch rabbit. Can you possibly protect any animal from all of these successful and determined predators?

There is one more predator, however, from which the hutch rabbit is entirely indefensible. Flies. Several species of flies will attack the rabbit and burrow into his flesh to lay eggs. Maggots are born shortly afterward and feast on the flesh of the rabbit causing infection, abscess, and certain death without immediate medical attention. The signs of this type of infestation are extremely difficult to detect in the early stages and few if any children (and some adults) possess the powers of observation to note this condition. Perhaps there is no more ignoble demise than flystrike during a searing summer when the rabbit becomes a living corpse. Wire-bottomed cages and hutches invariably produce sore hock conditions on the rabbit's feet which is a perfect entry point for fly infestation. Sore hocks alone can cause bone infection and result in the need for amputation.

Even more difficult to detect than this are blood parasites thought to be carried by all rabbits which strike opportunistically when the immune system is compromised. A hutch bound, depressed, and lonely rabbit's immune system is compromised by default and this is the perfect victim for microbial takeover by the dreaded protozoan e. cuniculi or the bacteria pasteurella, to name but a few.

This is Fiona. She was originally a hutch rabbit and then went into rabbit rescue for several years. She was adopted and spent her golden years lounging on a warm hearth in a household where she was loved by all.
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A Warm Spot on the Hearth, A Warm Place in Your Heart 

Even if a hutch bound rabbit should be kept in the nicest barn or garage or sundeck, the social needs of the rabbit cannot be met even if kept in groups of two, three, or more. The space required for any mammal to properly socialize cannot be provided with any cage and the ability to properly socialize with humans cannot be achieved through these remote living conditions. To be a part of the family and accept and trust humans, rabbits should be kept under the same roof as you. Cohabitation of a shelter structure such as a house is the greatest evidence of love and acceptance and the very definition of a pet. A companion animal is one with whom you live in your house not one for whom you have to put on snow boots and a parka to visit in your backyard. So with all of these considerations, what is your relationship with your rabbit? Is he livestock or a companion? If you asked him, what do you think he would say?

1 McBride, A. (1998) Why Does My Rabbit? Chapter 2, p. 24. Souvenir Press 

2 Life of Mammals, David Attenborough 
3 ibid.

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