I thought I'd show you who I share a house with. This is Bert:
Those of you educated in the finer points of the animal kingdom might recognise him as a rabbit. In fact, he's a House Rabbit, and by House I don't mean that he's a fictional medical genius with a limp and sociopathic god-complex who looks just like Prince George off of Blackadder the Third, but that he lives in the house. With us. He's got a cage that he sleeps and poos in, and a robot lady rabbit that he . . . er . . . enjoys, for want of a better euphemism.
Now, when I was a nipper, rabbits were things that were kept in a hutch in the garden, to be mucked out by your parents after you'd promised to do it, but before you realised that this would take effort and a modicum of responsibility on your part, so you meandered off to make a ramp to jump over on your Raliegh Grifter. These rabbits were famous for two things; first for not being seen for weeks on end and, second, when they were levered out of their hutch and forced into the cloying arms of a pre-pubescent hug, for having a bite that would make Mike Tyson knuckle away a tear in envy. How many children at school bore the scars (both physical and emotional) of being unexpectedly savaged by Thumper? Of course, the reason these poor buggers were so vicious was due to insanity brought on by loneliness, a fact which has been brought home to me now when I see just how friendly Bert is.
What I like is, when you come in from work after a long shift, he circles round and round your feet, honking gently and establishing utter, utter ownership of you, or at least your socks, Which he also enjoys. It's very welcoming, especially if there's no-one else at home. He took 2 days to housetrain, and in general doesn't chew cables although we do have to watch him with the skirting boards and bottoms of sofas. He's very curious, which is hilarious if you've got a bag or box to put down. After cleaning his cage, it's not unusual to have to remove a demented bunny from the hay bag:
Of course, he's spoilt rotten. This is evident in the following photogram, where he can be seen choffing that staple of lagomorphic dietary requirements, a box of chocolates. Presumably he likes the carrot centres:
Obviously, it was the wife's idea to get a rabbit, as it usually is in these situations, because let's be honest, how many men are going to wake up one morning and think "I want a pet rabbit!". But they do grow on you, and you begin to get mildly insulted by the suggestions of edibleness which invariably come from all your friends. And he now has his useful side too, having been appointed Officer in Charge of Animal Appreciation to our infant son, who is fast becoming gentle, tolerant and understanding of the other creatures that inhabit our world.
I've heard it said that House Rabbits are the pets of the future, and I agree. Perfect for those who want a companion but don't have time for a dog, a flap for a cat or space for a rhino.
So may I issue a plea to all rabbit owners everywhere, especially to those who might not have seen theirs for a few days - go and give 'em a fuss.