Audrey Pavia
June 28, 2010

Miniature Rex pet rabbit

Photo by Audrey Pavia

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Smokey chewing on something appropriate.

I had rabbits as a kid growing up in the surburbs of L.A., but they always lived outside. No one ever heard of an indoor rabbit back then. But by the time I got back to bunny ownership, keeping indoor rabbits had become the norm. And it makes sense.

When keeping rabbits outside, they are subject to all kinds of threats. The weather is only one thing that can take down an outdoor rabbit. Predators are probably the biggest issue, with raccoons being among the worst. Those striped carnivores can and will reach through the bars of a rabbit hutch and kill the bunnies right in their cage.
So, my two Miniature Rexes, Smokey and Prudence, live indoors. They have a large exercise pen in my home office that houses their bed, litter boxes and wicker bunny tent. When it’s time for them to romp around outside the pen, I section off the part of my office near my desk and let them have the run of the house.
Anyone who has indoor rabbits knows that rabbit-proofing is crucial if you are going to let your lagomorphs run loose. Rabbits are notorious chewers, and will chomp through anything they can get their teeth on. This brings me to Smokey’s great adventure.
Two weekends ago, we had some friends over with their kids. Our house is a popular spot for children, who think it’s a private petting zoo. The bunnies are a favorite attraction.
When kids come over, I escort them to my office, lift them up over the pen so they can sit inside with the rabbits, and monitor the interaction. When the rabbits seem like they’ve had enough, I take the kids out of the room and that’s the end of it. But this time, one of the kids found his way back to the office without me knowing and tried to get into the pen. He didn’t succeed, but he did manage to compromise its security.

The next morning, I came in my office to feed the bunnies their a.m. pellets. And I saw Smokey sitting outside the pen. After I put him back in, I went into optimist mode. “He must have just gotten out,” I said to myself. “I found him right after he discovered the gap in the pen panels.”
Content with my conclusion, I went off to work.
Two days later, Randy calls to tell me he is trying to send a fax, but it won’t go through. I tried to troubleshoot the situation over the phone, to no avail. When I got home that night, I crawled around under the desk, fishing through the spaghetti bowl of wires that connect all my equipment together. I figured a plug must have come out. Yeah, that’s it. I was still optimistic.
It didn’t take too long to discover the problem. The wire connecting the fax machine to the telephone had been neatly sliced in two. Smokey.
I went to the garage, got another phone cord and replaced it. But the machine still didn’t work. I crawled around under my desk some more and found another sliced phone cord, this one connecting the phone to the answering machine. Smokey.
Another try and the machine still wasn’t working. More crawling around and another discovery: a severed phone cord attaching the phone to the wall jack. Smokey.
After I had replaced all the phone cords and got the machine working, I decided all my problems were solved. Still optimistic.
But this entire week, I have been discovering severed cords under my desk, one by one. First it was my speakers. Then it was my digital camera. Today, I discovered my back-up drive.
I guess it’s safe to say that Smokey had not just gotten out of his pen when I found him that morning, but had quite a bit of time to spend under my desk, slicing every cord he could wrap his mouth around. He must have been out all night, in fact, chewing to his heart’s content.
Lesson learned. When it comes to escaped house rabbits, remember one thing: The glass is always half-empty.

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