Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why I could totally be the next Crocodile Hunter- Rescuing small, fluffy, sharp-toothed animals like a total bad-ass.

      *This actually happened awhile ago, but I'm just getting around to posting it because of that whole month of being really busy and stressed and also a wee-bit depressed. 

    I live in a neighborhood with a higher population of rabbits than actual people. Seriously it's like Watership Down around here. Driving down the street after dark is akin to a very stressful game of wack-a-mole only you're trying not to hit the tiny fluffy creatures jumping out in front of you.
   The rabbits, though not tame by any means, are surprisingly nonchalant. One day this summer I narrowly avoided flattening a large rabbit that was lying on it's back in the middle of my driveway.
      Because of it's position and complete lack of awareness I at first assumed it was dead. I got out of my car with the intention of finding a shovel and discreetly depositing it's sad little body in my neighbors yard (because I don't have the heart to throw it in the trash but am also far too lazy to bury it, and also my neighbor is INSANE and it would have been funny). As I got closer the rabbit lifted it's head and stared at me as if to say "What? see something you like here? *wink*".
       It wasn't until I got about four feet from it's upturned belly that it finally rolled over and hopped into the yard. I finished pulling my car into the garage and then watched from my window as it hopped back onto the pavement and flopped over to continue his sunbathing.

    My point is, there are a lot of rabbits and they do not fear death despite one of their brethren occasionally ending up flattened on the road or eaten by a dog. So it came as a rather large surprise when I found out that my house possesses a death trap that they have not figured out how to avoid or escape from.

    When we first moved in I vaguely remember having a conversation with our landlord about the window-well that went something like this:
      Landlord: "So there's just the one window-well and it doesn't have a cover, is that a problem?"
      Me: "Yes it is, someone could fall in!"

     Landlord: " Oh you mean like a small child? Ok I can put a cover on it."

     Me: "Err.. yes.. a child! Totally. A kid would fall in there. Not grown-ups though because they are more graceful. Yes, cover it... for the children."

    Roommate: "Uh, we don't have any children. It's fine, the dog is smart enough not to fall in."

    Me: "Yes.. right, the dog. That's what I was worried about. Not me or anything haha."
     Then one day I was down in the basement doing laundry when I heard thumping and scratching noises coming from the window. I pulled back the curtain to find this little dude attempting to claw his way up the metal wall.
I shall give him carrots and call him Fortinbras.      
     I guess I'm less compassionate than I thought because my first reaction was to mock him for being dumb enough to get stuck in this giant hole. It was funny until I noticed something that I'm sure was far more upsetting for the bunny than me- a tiny bunny skeleton half buried in leaves a few feet away.
     I realized this rabbit, however dumb he may be, did not deserve to die a slow lonely death like that and also I named him Fortinbras, so I couldn't just leave him there.
    First order of business in any rescue mission is to gather intel. For this I went upstairs, where I discovered two bunny cohorts observing the whole situation from the backyard. They were both munching on grass and occasionally peeking over the side of the window-well as if to say:
      "Sucks Bro. keep jumping.. you'll totally get out."
     Then they turn to each other and whisper things like:
       "It's never gonna happen." 

          "He's a gonner for sure."

    Poor little Fortinbras had no hope of being rescued from the outside. Not only is the hole incredibly deep, it was also basically impossible to see him. Camo-fur was not paying off in this particular situation-

     I decided to attempt my rescue from the basement where Fortinbras is within arms reach, and somehow transport him upstairs into the yard.
     While I have rescued plenty of small rodents and birds in my lifetime, I decided to consult an expert on this one. Fortinbras was happily munching on carrots at the moment, but I knew the second I opened the window the odds of him voluntarily hopping into my arms were probably pretty slim.
    I texted my cousin Erin who works at a Wildlife Rescue, thinking she would have some good advice.
      Me: "About to rescue a bunny from my window-well. Any advice?"
    The problem with people who spend their days putting splints on bear cubs and repairing golden eagle wings is that to them, rabbits are the things they feed to the baby mountain lions to make sure they can hunt before releasing them.
    I'm not saying small animals don't matter, nor that they don't also rescue squirrels and whatnot on a regular basis, only that real Wildlife experts have an annoying habit of seeing the big picture, food-chain-wise.
    Also they are a little spoiled with their rescue gear.
   Erin: "Use some thick gloves rabbits bite and scratch. Also a pole and net. Also rabbits tend to panic and flail and break their own backs. so just be aware of that."

    Very helpful dear. A list of things I do not have and a piece of information for which there is no solution. I immediately began to panic over the thought of poor little Fortinbras breaking his back. Not so much his death, Lord knows I have witnessed enough fluffy tragedies to deal with that. No, I was panicking over the thought of him breaking his own back and staying alive. What would I do then? My cousin, with her fancy gear and veterinary-type skills would probably have a syringe and just let him slip away quietly, mercifully ending his self-induced pain.
   But what am I supposed to do? Take him out back and hit him with a shovel?

    But I also couldn't leave him to die so I mustered up all my courage and headed to the garage to search for supplies.
    In lea of gloves and net I went with: Long sleeved shirt, old blanket, and a cardboard box.

    I had the forethought to lock my roommate's dog in a bedroom before I potentially released a wild rabbit into our basement, but I forgot about my cat, who took up watch from the Futon a few feet away with a look on his face that can only be interpreted as:
         "Oh this is going to be such a good show..."
     From my position in the basement I could also see two bunny noses peeking curiously over the edge of the wall above.
    Despite the stares of my skeptical audience I managed get the box over the top of the rabbit fairly easily and felt a wave of relief when he decided to deal with his panic by freezing up completely instead of the wild flailing Erin warned me about.
   However, anytime I attempted to slide the box towards me, the flailing would start, along with some sad squeaks I was previously unaware rabbits could produce. So we sat there for a few moments in Limbo. Me unable to move the box but unwilling to set him free, his bunny friends watching unsupportively from the yard, and my cat smugly grooming himself on the futon.
    Finally I decided to do it in one quick move hoping to get him up the stairs and outside before he had time to snap his fragile little spine. I slid the box inside, flipped it over and closed the flaps in a much-less-than-fluid movement, sustaining several scratches on my arms and somehow succeeding in hitting myself in the face (something that happens a little to often considering I am an adult with relatively good hand-eye coordination).
    Anyway I totally got Fortinbras upstairs and outside all on my own, proving that you don't need fancy equipment to rescue rabbits LIKE A BOSS.
   The scratches I sustained were deemed minor and undeserving of a rabies shot (I came to this diagnosis on my own by factoring in my fear of needles with the fact that Fortinbras did not appear rabid), and we got a cover for the window well to prevent future tragedies.
    And now here is a completely unrelated picture of a bunny to distract you from the fact that this very long blog post has no climax, pay-off, or conclusion of any kind.




  1. oh my gosh this is fabulous. also, bunny!

  2. FLUFFY! I'm so glad you got him outside. Now, maybe 30 years from now, you will see him and he will run up to you, hug you and introduce you to his girlfriend. I hear animals are cool like that. (Of course, you didn't play soccer with him in a church yard, so it's difficult to say).

  3. So..why didn't you just put the box on the ground next to the rabbit and let him use it to jump out on his own? Or make a ramp for him or something? Because actually sticking the rabbit in a box and carrying him through the house never would have occurred to me.

  4. Huh.. I never even thought about building a ramp.. mostly because it was such a tight spot I risked being scratched even sticking my arms in there and finding a ramp would have taken a lot of work. The box wasn't big enough to help him out, it's a very deep hole.