Friday, October 15, 2010

Can you dig it?

Many (including me) find it interesting to watch someone else work. This video was filmed over a two day span and included about 15 or 20 minutes of recording....which was then edited down to approximately 3.5 minutes. The worker (Alice-formerly momma rabbit) appeared to be tired at the end of each day, it is certain that her paws, wrists, arms and shoulders got a workout. Behold:
The House Rabbit Society notes that "Wild rabbits share their warrens with up to a hundred family members"....Alice would have to do a lot of digging to accommodate 99 other rabbit folk.

One of the things I have become sensitive too is the fear felt by a bunny whenever anyone picks them up. This excerpt makes such fear (and sometimes terror) more understandable
In the wild, being lifted off the ground means being in the hawk’s talons, soon to be his lunch. Restraint precedes the killing bite of predators on the ground. Most house rabbits can learn to tolerate being held and picked up by humans, but it is the rare individual who views these as pleasurable gestures of friendship.
So picking up a bunny or holding/restraining a bunny has ancestrally been a prelude to a painful and horrible death. That awareness makes me feel profoundly graced when a bunny restrains their fear enough to not struggle when they are lifted or held.

Quite a gift is being bestowed by a non-struggling bunny....a gift of trust to the human picking her up or holding her......and we human animals are often oblivious to that gift.

What human animals view as affection and caring (holding, picking-up) are the very behaviors that signal an approaching painful and violent death for the rabbit animal.

Hmmm.......that would mean in order to understand a rabbit person you might have to rethink what some fairly natural human animal affectional impulses (holding, hugging, picking-up, etc) mean to the rabbit folk. Hmmmm............

If you "dig" rabbits, support them at:

Remember, support your local rescue organizations, adopt if you can, if you can't adopt then foster, if you can't foster then volunteer, if you can't volunteer then donate. Do all of these things if you can.


Krissa said...

Momma Alice is gorgeous! And a hard worker. Can she tunnel out of her enclosed place? Or rather, is it likely? I can see that she could do it if she were so inclined. On another note, I like how she pushes the dirt (around 1:15 and then again close to the end). ... It's too bad how many things us humans think of as friendly are in honesty threatening to a lot of different creatures. Mostly probably because of the size difference we've discussed before, but even large animal friends can be off-put by things we think are nice. I always let the other choose for themselves what contact they are comfortable with. But I can see where it would be especially upsetting to a rabbit to be picked up or hugged. ... Amazing that sometimes rabbits share warrens with so many friends! I didn't know that.

Christina said...

Momma A is such a wonderful little lady. There is something very different about her.

None of my buns like being picked up and of course I dont unless I have too. (unless its Millie and she could care less) Miss Pearl gave me quite the as* whipping the other day when I picked her up.

veganelder said...

Thanks for your comment Krissa. Momma Alice is a unique bunny, while the others will dig a bit...I have yet to see one take off on a tunnel like she did.

Each kind of mammal animal person has their own natural affection display behaviors and while they are often the same (e.g. grooming seems to be pretty universal) others are not at all the same from fur person to fur person. Also...then each fur person has their own history which can impact their likes and dislikes....also....then each fur person has moods and quirks. All in all figuring out what is desired and not desired is almost always a one-on-one situation that may change from day to day. Makes things interesting.

veganelder said...

Thank you Christina for your comment.

Reading the excerpt from the House Rabbit Society (for some reason) really resonated with me....up in the air may mean death....being held or restrained may mean just sunk in finally.

I am going to believe that when a bunny hunkers down to let you stroke her/his head and/or back...that is an invitation to be friendly.

Yes, moving the fur folks back and forth from inside to outside has provided me with several as* much so from Fast Eddie and his bro that I use the carrier now to move them in and out. They carry switchblades in their hands and feet...the hooligans. :-)

Harry said...

You raise an often forgotten point - loving animals the way we feel they should be loved is frequently terrifying for them. It is so important that our love adds to their lives, rather than just making us feel better.

With dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, goats, pigs, chickens and peacocks at Avondale it's been a steep learning curve for us over the years to know how to show them the appropriate affection. What is required varies between individuals as well as between species. It's essential that we are quiet with them for long enough (and often enough) to work out what is best for them. And not feel offended if they do not enjoy heaps of physical affection.

Horses (like rabbits) are a case in point: they are, I believe, mistreated through kindness more than any other 'pet animal' - they're confined in stables to keep them cosy (but they'd like to move about and graze for ~19/24 hours), rugged to keep them warm (preventing them from regulating their own body temperature), shod to protect their feet (hard inflexible metal shoes that lead to a myriad of physical ailments and often shorter lifespans), and fed rich, unnatural foods.

On 'A Gentle Place' blog you commented recently on how science can be of value in bettering the lives of non-human animals; what you've highlighted here is yet another area where science can be of such value: studies of non-human animals in their natural environment are essential for us to be able to look after better those in our care.

veganelder said...

Thanks Harry for your excellent comment. I agree, science would be a valuable and welcome resource to assist us sometimes clueless human animals about how best to express positive feelings and affection toward other animal folk.

You point out what seems to me to be the key element for learning....being quiet with them for long enough and often enough.....and to remember that desiring affection is different from wanting to give affection. Both the receiver and the giver have to be at the same place and at the same time for the exchange to work well.....and they have to be speaking the same affection "dialect".

Bea Elliott said...

I'm beginning to realize I'm probably a much more callous non-thinking human than I ever wanted to admit to being. I never realized this fear of being picked up... I'm sure it's the same for chickens - And well, I often do pick my feather companions up. Some seem to love it - Others not so much. Now I know why!!! I'll have to be much more patient and respectful of those that don't find it a pleasurable experience...

And Alice - Gosh she's sooo beautiful & perfect. Not in my arms... But I hold her in my heart very willingly. <3

veganelder said...

Thanks for commenting Bea. Good observation about chickens but I wonder if it is the same...chickens fly short distances for safety and tend to want to roost up high..maybe heights have a different meaning to them or at least additional meanings.

The whole situation is one where the culture has failed to provide useful and relevant information to help all who live in the culture relate to fellow beings in an intelligent and respectful and thoughtful way. Instead we were taught to commodify beings that weren't human animals, to use them, enslave and exploit them. Much better that we be ignorant than be full of the knowledge that the culture offers.

Harry made a good observation, there is a tremendous void here and some sort of filling of this void would be welcome.

In the meantime, your being patient and respectful is a great gift on your part to those you interact with.....and Alice says: Thank you.