What’s Up, Doc?

OK, so I missed International Rabbit Day by a few of Earth’s rotations. I discovered this when opening Saturday’s bing.com… Saturday’s bing.com  Who knew?

The following paragraph is from Wiki Wiki :  “Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world. There are eight different genera in the family classified as rabbits, including the European rabbit, cottontail rabbits, and the Amami rabbit. There are many other species of rabbit, and these, along with pikas and hares, make up the order Lagomorpha. The male is called a buck and the female is a doe; a young rabbit is a kitten or kit.”

I got curious about the long-eared jumpers when I lived on the California coast, next to a vacant bunny-populated lot… loved watching them chase each other and jump in the air. I read half of The Secret Life of Rabbits by R.M. Lockley in the mid-70s (before leaving it on a plane); collected rabbit tchotchkes for a while; and still receive occasional rabbit gifts, most recently some beautiful note cards.

Some of my favorite rabbits are from children’s books – Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit books, of course, and Dubose Heywood’s The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. But even adult lit has come up with good rabbit tales – Watership Down lingo Watership Down lingo has stayed with me for decades – silflay, hruduru… and I loved the characters’ names – Bigwig, Fiver, Efrafa, Cowslip…

Take a gander at more of these rabbits in literature

Do you have any rabbit stories?

What’s your favorite literary animal?

36 thoughts on “What’s Up, Doc?”

  1. Barb in Rivertown pretends she randomly chose this day to offer her rabbit post. Of course, the real reason is to commemorate the passing today of Hugh Hefner, the famous leader of legions of “Bunnies.” I had a college roommate who worshiped Hefner and who could recite extensively from Hefner’s “Playboy Philosophy” column. That is a school of philosophy that never stirred me very deeply. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Rabbit tastes pretty good. Alice In Wonderland would be my favorite rabbit tale followed by Peter Cottontail. White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane my favorite rabbit song.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. There are two opinions on that. In some places it’s called “Welsh Rarebit” I think the controversy goes something like this: Welsh Rabbit is a rueful or disparaging reference to the poverty in Wales. Rombauer, in Joy of Cooking, my edition, uses Rarebit, saying that Rabbit already means something else. In this she sides with the literalists. But she also declares the correspondence on the issue closed, which suggests that the proper name has been contentious. I think in earlier editions she may even have preferred “Welsh Rabbit”. I’d go with Rabbit myself. It’s at least witty though possibly pejorative but it has cultural and historical references. What’s a rarebit?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Rabbits get a bum rap in The Wind and the Willows. We have jackrabbits here, and they turn white in the winter. They have big feet. Our neighborhood used to be cottontail free until Finian, the cat across the street, moved across town. He killed any rabbit he came across and piled the carcasses in the corner of his back yard. Now we have to put up fencing to keep the rabbits out of the garden.

    I like the Beavers in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I also like the mice in the Redwall series.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. For BiR: Well, this couple living on the edge of town has a lovely home, but it smells because skunks have moved into the crawl space below the home. They try everything to get rid of the skunks. Nothing works.

          Then they happen to ask their pastor if he knows a solution. He does. “Just throw a lot of lutefisk under there. Skunks can’t stand lutefisk. Your problems will soon be over.

          They do.

          Later they run into the pastor. He wants to know whether the lutefisk ploy worked. Yes, the couple says, all the skunks cleared out. Now we have another question. “How the heck do we get rid of all the Norwegians?”

          Liked by 2 people

  4. I have several rabbit stories. I posted one before, a story I call “the man who shot Peter Cottontail.” I won’t repeat it here, but it led to the story I’d like to tell today. When I edited a magazine, I wrote a monthly column, and one of those columns told the story of the man who shot Peter Cottontail. That led to the oddest and most touching letters I ever got from a reader.

    The reader described himself as an old man living on a farm in west-central Minnesota. Let’s say his name was Elmer. I don’t actually recall. My column appeared in the winter of 1976.

    The letter started: “The Man Who Shot Peter Cottontail. I see by your story that you are a good person. I want to tell you about something that happened to me. Something I have never mentioned.”

    Elmer went on to say he was an immigrant kid living on the Minnesota prairie in the 1920s. He had a dog, a mutt named Scout. One night in February Scout woke Elmer up. Scout was nervous and seemed to want to go outdoors. The two of them silently left the farmhouse and went out across the snowy fields.

    “That’s when I saw the most beautiful thing I ever saw,” wrote Elmer. “Scout and I came over a hill. The rabbits were below us, maybe two dozen rabbits. Dancing in the moonlight. I never saw anything so beautiful. They ran around and leaped high in the air. They held hands. They jumped over each other. Scout would ordinarily chase a rabbit, but that night he knew better. He and I just lay there in the snow and watched the rabbits dancing in the moonlight. It was this thing that God had let us see. I never saw anything so beautiful again. And I haven’t said a word about this for fifty years.”

    to be continued

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I would dearly love to see bunnies dancing in the moonlight. Most of my bunny stories are too gruesome to be retold here. Think about my two big dogs. This is unfortunate because my daughter YA is a Bunny Whisperer. I’ve seen it year after year after year at the State Fair. Bunnies sit at the back of their cages waiting to go home and all YA has to do is put her hand in a little bit and the bunnies come to her. I am not making this up.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Elmer’s story was touching but confusing. I didn’t know how to respond. He had obviously decided to trust me with a story he had held as a magical secret all his life.

    I phoned the Minnesota DNR and asked to speak to a wildlife specialist. The guy I got said he had never seen anything in the scientific literature about rabbits dancing. I thought, “Well, yeah. But how often do scientists walk through the snow on moonlit February prairie nights?” I knew there were many aspects to animal behavior that were unknown to science.

    I ended up printing Elmer’s letter in the magazine. An artist drew a sketch of a kid and a mutt dog hiding in the snow to watch rabbits dance. Elmer wrote back to thank me.

    I’ve never forgotten that story. Today I whispered to my friend Google, saying the words “rabbits dancing in the moonlight.” Wow. I got hit after hit with illustrations of rabbits dancing in the snow, with story after story suggesting that others have seen this too.

    Do you want your understanding of the world to be scientific and literal? I think it is more than possible that rabbits perform mating rituals on some moonlit winter nights. Or do you prefer a poetic world? Perhaps God lets us see beautiful, improbable things. I can live with that.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This dancing is what I saw the rabbits doing at dusk in my Robbinsdale back yard – the WAY back yard. I don’t doubt it for a minute. How lovely that you printed it, Steve.

      I’m pretty sure I’ve read about it in, perhaps, Watership Down. Wish I could see them in the moonlight.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. OH, Barbara, thank you for the opening! My favorite rabbit story is of our little rabbit “StarZo” who was born along with 10 siblings in November many years ago…then her mother “Starsky” (and Hutch was the father) died. We tried to save the babies with goat milk in a mini-bottles but unintentionally drowned all but one by giving them too much milk. We managed to save StarZo by artificial respiration. She survived in the house through the winter. She didn’t like my ex who had saved her…she urinated in his shoes, attacked his face when he brought wood in for the stove, sprayed him as he walked by. In March it warmed and we put her outside running loose with the other rabbits. She continued spraying the ex when we went out to milk goats. Then she produced 3 babies, a white one, an orange one and a black one. Then she disappeared.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Barbara, your mention of The Private Life of Rabbits reminded me that I seemed to remember that Adams used that as his reference/inspiration when writing Watership Down. A quick glance at the acknowledgement of W. D. shows that to be the case. I looked at my copy of the Lockley book (with an inscription to me from Robin, 1974) to see if he had anything to say about rabbits dancing. That seems not to be the case, alas.
    With regard to animals in fiction, nobody as yet has mentioned Mehitabel of Archy & Mehitabel. Allow me to put in a plug for her. Anthropomorphized, of course (she talks, after all), Mehitabel is a tragic figure—self dramatizing yet fatalistic in a way that strikes me as eminently cat-like. Not a role model but somehow true to herself.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. i took that trip in the vw van back at the same time as yesterdays discussion of viet nam

    my brother and my girlfriend and i in the vw van heading to pick up the firend who had moved to salt lake city
    i was 16 and made a random rule that we would not use a freeway. what a great way to see the country. i think i rremember taking the freeway to fargo visiting cousin dan and starting form there. when you go across north dakota without using a freeway to start a trip it is slow going. i remember lunch in the pcity park in ball four north dakota but the other thing i remember is the first night of camping was in a field of sagebrush that was still attatched to the ground. i wasnt as experienced as i am now in camping technique so getting the campfire going was a challange with the sagebrush as the main source of fuel. we waited until dark to stop. we were on our way to minot where the next nioght i have mentioned i was surprised to be sitting on the front porch at 1100 at night and the sun had not set yet so it was late when we started looking for firewood and as we collected the sagebrush and threw it on the fire it would flare up and we would see all these eyes all around the camp. when i turned out to be renee;s jackrabbits with the long ears and big feet it was funny but those little glowing eyes and big ears looking over at the fire we were building
    when bir asked for rabbit stories i had to search my brain and this is what i came up with., then i started reading your responses watershipdown etc… didnt occur to me. i didnt reada lot of rabbit stuff. i did get to the bunny clubs in chicago lake delevan and desmoines befre they went away. i believe i have a certificate form bunny leah for drinking the bottle of tequilla and eating the worm

    Liked by 2 people

  10. One of my favorite children’s books (that doesn’t show up in Wiki’s literature link) is Rabbit and the Moon, an a Cree legend adapted by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Leslie Baker. I think this is where I remember rabbits dancing under the full moon.


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