Are rabbits the perfect pets? – Orange County Registry

Asking someone if they like cats or dogs is so last year. The question in 2022: Are you a bunny person?

Turns out, after owning six dogs, I am. And the same goes for an explosive number of others.

Search “buns” or “bunnies” or “bunny life” on Instagram, and you’ll see feeds full of bunnies hopping around people’s homes, looking incredibly adorable – and getting millions of likes and views.

One of these streams belongs to my own Baby Funk, short for Funkhouser (as in Marty Funkhouser from “Curb your Enthusiasm”). It is also called “Mrs”.

I tell people we saved Baby Funk from the mean streets of LA, and now she’s living her best life. This is the short version. My daughter Clara and I were on our way to a hair appointment in Highland Park two days before Christmas 2019 when we walked past a pop-up rabbit rescue, packing our bags as night fell.

A woman was cuddling a white rabbit with a small tuft of hair sticking up between its ears and giant eyes, one of which was sky blue. We stopped for ooh and aah, and just then a gorgeous, slender woman came down the sidewalk and announced that the bunny’s dramatic blue eye matched my daughter’s blue eyes and so she was supposed to be ours. Without another word, she headed for the sunset.

  • Baby Funk’s single blue eye and 24-year-old Clara Whitcomb’s blue eyes match almost perfectly. Whitcomb’s mother, Lori Basheda, says this further indicates that the bunny was destined to be part of their family. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Baby Funk perches on his princess pillow while dragging...

    Baby Funk perches on her princess pillow while hanging out in the living room with Clara Whitcomb, 24, on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 in Long Beach. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Baby Funk takes the time to clean herself while she's hanging...

    Baby Funk takes time to clean up while hanging out at the Basheda’s lounge in Long Beach on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • After an exhausting afternoon of being pampered, Baby Funk breaks down...

    After an exhausting afternoon, Baby Funk crashes into his room in Long Beach on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. The bunny likes to nap all day long. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Baby Funk looks at a painting of herself by the artist...

    Baby Funk looks at a painting of herself by artist Monica Edwards who created her from a photograph of the bunny. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Baby Funk, the Basheda family bunny, has a special room...

    Baby Funk, the Basheda family bunny, has a special room dedicated to him. It includes plush toys, a mirror for her to admire herself, tubes to crawl through, small wooden blocks and, of course, her litter box with a privacy curtain. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Baby Funk loves hanging out under a dresser in...

    Baby Funk likes hanging out under a dresser in his bedroom in Long Beach. Many toys, including colorful wooden blocks, are available for his amusement. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Clara Whitcomb, 24, takes Baby Funk for a walk through...

    Clara Whitcomb, 24, takes Baby Funk for a walk in her Long Beach neighborhood on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. People often stop her to talk about her pet. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

It was very LA, and we decided later that the supermodel woman might be a plant. But anyway, I felt for some reason we had to obey her (I’m super impulsive) and handed over $20 to the shelter woman Bunnies of North Central. We walked into our hairdresser’s shop with a bunny in a box.

Back home, we made a little litter box out of the hay from the box and our new pet jumped in. She has since used the litter box with only a handful of accidents. In fact, when we take her out to play in the garden, she rushes inside when she needs to “use the bathroom”.

Thus, rabbits are tidy and intelligent. It’s also true that they are chewers. You can’t worry too much about unimportant things, like table legs, and you have to hide all the electrical cords. (I block them with mirrors and framed photos.)

Baby Funk sometimes gnaws at a wooden drying rack by the washing machine, but I keep it busy with blocks, twigs, and crunchy Critter Pops — their version of potato chips. Internet searches will warn that Critter Pops are the equivalent of rabbit fast food, but I eat Taco Bell, so whatever.

Apparently, a growing number of people are willing to look beyond chewing. A 2020 article on Discovermagazine.com states that after dogs and cats, rabbits are the third most popular pet in the United States.

Rabbits as pets date back to Victorian times. But they have for decades been relegated to outdoor hutches. It’s harder to pinpoint exactly when people stopped stuffing their rabbits into sad, cramped cages and giving them the same freedom as cats and dogs. But the outdoor homemade bun phenomenon is in full swing, judging by social media feeds.

My house has hardwood floors in all but one room, which is good because rabbits don’t like hardwood floors. Their hairy paws slide over them, which makes them nervous. So Mrs stays in our carpeted den. That’s why our den now looks more like a children’s playroom.

We’ve scattered small antique shop stools for her to rest on and pet shop tunnels so she can travel from place to place. Rabbits are prey, so they are nervous in the open. In fact, a hawk once swooped down to grab it, claws out, right in front of Clara and me in our backyard. We screamed and Mrs. rushed into the honeysuckle vine just in time. The falcon flew away, but Madame wouldn’t come out for weeks. Cats also like to stalk rabbits, so they don’t make the best bedfellows.

Rabbits prefer other rabbits, but even then they are territorial, so it’s best to bring already bonded rabbits into your home at the same time. Since Ms. is an “only child”, we bought her some stuffed rabbits that look like her. She likes to lick them (satisfying her innate urge to groom) before taking a nap – her favorite activity.

She spends her nights with us in the living room. Around 8 p.m., we bring Ms. to the couch for TV time (hence her Instagram handle @couch.bunny). Head tilted, ears pricked and eyes bulging, she stares at me until I hand her two raisins from a box on the coffee table. Then she jumps on a velvet pillow on the back of the sofa like a little queen.

We keep jars of dried rose petals from the garden on the coffee table for her to snack on with us when we go to get the olives or cereal.

I won’t lie, Mrs. put a few holes in our dear Anthropologie sofa cushions when we got up for kitchen/bathroom breaks – but it’s worth it. She is our muse and our entertainment. We joke that we wouldn’t have survived the pandemic shutdown without her. On stroller rides around the block, we recorded her “talking” in her sleep, tried to guess what she would say if she could talk and, most therapeutic of all, snuggle up to her.

That’s another thing: a rabbit can be a very calming companion. Especially since they don’t bark and don’t really make any noise. They can only emit a slight growl when they are happy – or unhappy. So Ms growls as she hops around Clara in a circle every morning – a common bunny greeting, according to pet websites. And sometimes she lets out a disgruntled grunt at the end of the night when we pick her up off the couch to take her back to the den for bedtime with her stuffed bunnies.

It’s far from the nasty streets.


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Raymond I. Langston