I had planned to go out for the evening. The day had been filled with housework; trimming hedges, vacuuming and scrubbing. My parents were coming to visit the next day. I needed a little time to sit back, relax and enjoy myself, to forget my worries.
I have two cats and three rabbits living in my house. For most of the day, two of my rabbits, Lysander and Velvet, had run of the house. They played quietly while I did housework. My third bunny, Mia, rested sleepily in her room. The cats spent the day napping as well.
Before I could leave for the evening, I had to take care of Velvet and Lysander. The bunnies stay in their enclosures when I’m not at home. They get into too much trouble otherwise. I stepped into the bunny room and noticed the metal floor vent had been pulled out and dragged about a foot from the opening. I surveyed the room. Velvet was in the habitat she shares with Lysander, huddled in the corner looking wild-eyed and distressed. Mia was in her area looking sad. Lysander was nowhere to be seen. Panicked, I ran to the vent and stuck my arm in to see if I could feel a furry body. Nothing. Lysander is a big bunny; he is bigger than Jasmyn, my Siamese cat. I doubted he would fit in that hole, but rationally I knew that anywhere a bunny can get his head through he could get the rest of his body through,too.
I shut Velvet in her habitat to keep from losing her, too. I searched the house room by room. I searched under all the beds, in the closets, in the lower cabinets, under the big chair, behind the couch, behind the credenza; in every nook and cranny all the while calling his name. Still, I could not find Lysander. I called Mom and Dad several times on my cordless phone and cried hysterically as I searched. I went back to the vent. He had to have gone down it.
I changed clothes, tucked my hair in a ponytail, grabbed my big flashlight, a utility knife and my cell phone. I went under my house. After I found the flex duct from the bunny room, I began to search the entire fifteen-foot-length of duct. I felt up and down, still skeptical that a well fed rabbit could fit down the flex duct. I squeezed it but felt no body. I crawled back out, convinced that he never would have fit and that he had to be in the house.
Like small children playing hide and seek, bunnies sometimes give up their positions by darting away or making a noise. I reasoned that if I had gotten close to Lysander in my search, he would have run off. I worried that he might be dead or seriously injured. Jasmyn the Siamese had never shown any interest in the bunnies. She was no threat.
However, as I looked under my bed again I noticed my new cat, Jordan, and wondered if he would have hurt Lysander. But Jordan, who outweighs Lysander by five pounds, has already developed a healthy respect for the big bunny. They came nose to nose about a week ago and Jordan was the first to run off. On another occasion Lysander charged at the cat. I still don’t completely trust Jordan, around the bunnies. Dad convinced me that if Jordan had hurt Lysander there would be evidence of a struggle. Good to have a mystery buff on the other end of the line. I continued my search, but no Lysander.
I went under the house four or five times. During one trip under the house, I pulled at the connection between the flex duct and main duct. I cut at the plastic tie, but it was too thick. I pulled again, and pulled and pulled. Finally, it pulled loose. There was a valve bisecting the connection leaving a four-inch opening to the main duct. Surely he couldn’t fit through that. I put the flex duct back on and went back to search inside the house again.
On another trip to the crawl space I decided to search the main duct. I banged on the big metal duct and called Lysander’s name. The duct shook, but I didn’t think Lysander was shaking it. I thought that if he was in the big metal duct that I would hear him thumping his feet. I went back into the house. I cried as I wandered into the living room, and began to hyperventilate. I dropped to my knees, feeling lightheaded. Then, a sense of calm came over me. I didn’t know for sure that Lysander was dead, but if I didn’t find that rabbit soon he would die. I pulled myself together. I had to save him.
After searching the house another time, I convinced myself that he had to be in the duct. But why didn’t he bang against it? I took the flashlight, knife, sheet metal cutters, wrench, screw driver and went back under the house. For fifteen minutes I worked at prying the end cap off the duct nearest the crawl space door. I tugged and pulled and cut off duct tape and pried and yanked until it finally pulled loose. I looked inside but the duct only went six feet before it connected with the big electric heater. I discovered the duct was insulated with an inch of thick fiber. Lysander couldn’t make a noise; it was too soft. He was shaking it! I mashed the end cap back on as best I could. I was tired from the work I had done. I needed help. I went to call Dad, but I stopped and thought about it. I could do this. I could rescue my bunny. I had the skills, the tools and the determination.
This time, in addition to my other tools, I gathered up a hammer, scissors, duct tape, cell phone and asthma inhaler. I was starting to wheeze from all the panic and dust. I packed my pockets full of tools and went back under the house, crawled the fifty-foot-length to the other end of the duct and began to pry open that end. I banged with the hammer, pulled with the wrench, pried with the screwdriver and wailed. I yanked and tugged and pulled and beat on the end cap. Finally, I was rewarded! The end cap opened. There was Lysander waiting for me to rescue him. I was so hysterical with laughter that Lysander almost ran away from me, but I called him and he came back. I pulled him out, cuddled him and called Dad. Lysander was safe.
Now all I had to do was carry a scared ten-pound-bunny, a hammer, flashlight, screw driver, scissors, wrench, duct tape, utility knife, cell phone and inhaler the fifty long feet back to the crawl space door. Once I got out of the crawl space I didn’t want to go in again. I packed my pockets full with the small stuff. Tucked the wrench in my waistline at my back. Wore the duct tape like a bracelet. Held Lysander like a big football with his hind legs dangling, carried the hammer and flashlight in the other hand and crawled three-legged back to the door. Lysander is now back home with Velvet. She and Mia are very happy to have their friend back. Lysander’s belly is full of food. I am exhausted, my muscles are sore and I’m having slight breathing problems. Tomorrow I’m taking it easy, but I plan to screw that register to the floor. Apparently, bunnies get into mischief when I am at home, too.
I’m covered with dust and dirt and rabbit fur and sweat. My hair is tangled and my make-up is a tearstained mess. I’ll never be able get ready for my night out. Besides, all I want to do is comfort my very scared baby. I am his hero.
House Rabbit Journal Winter 2003: Volume IV, Number 8