澳大利亚杂交迷你兔 / Special Australian Hybrid Pygmy Rabbits

澳大利亚杂交迷你兔

在中国文化中,兔子占据了较高的地位。此外,兔子也是中国十二生肖之一,带有很多与生肖相关的信仰、寓意和传统智慧等等。

在西方文化中,兔子的地位相对较低,尽管和基督教的复活节能扯上些关系——至少在北美是这样——但更多只停留在世俗层面,而非宗教层面。例如,每年春季复活节期间,都会销售用巧克力制成的复活节兔子,商店、酒店还有餐厅都会用兔子来进行装点。

好多年前,我的孩子还小,我太太去春季广交会出差。临回香港的时候,她在去火车站的路上遇到一个街边小贩,小贩带着一整箱非常可爱的小白兔崽。

他的箱子上有块手写的牌子,上面用中文注明这是一种澳大利亚杂交迷你兔,已经完全长大了。小贩说这种兔子是全新的杂交品种,非常适合公寓住户饲养。因为听上去很不错,太太就买了两只,想带回香港。当时,复活节就快到了。

买兔子的钱还包括一只铁丝编的小笼子,我太太把装着新买的迷你兔的小笼子夹在胳膊下,高高兴兴地去了火车站,顺利地上了车。火车开动后不久,列车员就到车厢里来检票了。

我太太出示了车票,列车员又向她索要兔子的车票。于是两个人就饶有兴趣、没完没了地争论了起来,我太太理直气壮地问为什么两只小兔崽要购买成人的车票,列车员说必须按规定办事,俩人你来我往,唇枪舌战,伴随着列车穿过广东大地发出的轰隆声,一路上有来言有去语,片刻不停。

一度,关于兔子票的争论陷入了僵局,但最终还是列车员利用职权,威胁说车到站后可以不让我太太和兔子下车。这两只澳大利亚迷你兔可能不知道,它们差点引发了一场国际争端。

最后,我太太态度软化,给两只兔子买了全票,我家晋身兔子主人的准入成本骤然提高。回家后,太太受到了英雄般的欢迎,一家人也都准备好迎接新宠物的到来。孩子们很兴奋,我自己也是。

那时候还没有互联网,否则我们一定会立刻上网“谷歌”一下“澳大利亚迷你兔”,以及其他的相关搜索,看看要怎么护理和饲养这个珍稀的新品种。

我们给兔子作了个小笼子当新家,摆在天井花园的边上,还放了好多生菜叶、胡萝卜和水。在这种环境下,这些可爱的小杂交兔就像所有兔子一样:生机勃勃、几乎是不停歇地开始进食(主要是吃生菜叶),并开始同样可观地排泄(你懂的),而它们的排泄物需要一定的清理工作。

头几天,我和太太自我安慰说,既然小兔子已经成年了,今后的清扫工作应该还应付得过来,不至于变得太累人。换句话说,没什么大不了的。

但后来可笑的事发生了。日子一天天过去,生菜头一个个减少,小兔子也越长越大,好像打了激素似的。

两只小兔刚从广州坐高价火车回家的时候,它们看上去还像是一对土豆,可几天之内就长成了芒果兄弟,不久又变成了胖木瓜。不知不觉中,我们的迷你兔都快赶上西瓜大小了。

很明显,火车站卖小兔的贩子太狡猾了。我不清楚他知不知道复活节就快到了,反正他颇有商业头脑,结果我们就上钩了:咬钩,上线,沉底儿。还有生菜叶。

Special Australian Hybrid Pygmy Rabbits

In Chinese culture, rabbits occupy a fairly prominent position. Among other things, they are one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, with all the associated beliefs, connotations, traditional wisdom, etc.

Rabbits generally occupy a less prominent place in most Western cultures, although they are associated with the Christian holiday of Easter — at least in North America — but in more of a secular than a religious context. For example, Easter bunnies made of chocolate go on sale, and form. a common theme of decorations in retail stores, hotels and restaurants during the Easter season each Spring.

Years ago, when our children were small, my wife made a business trip to the Spring GuangzhouTrade Fair. On the way to the train station for the return journey to Hong Kong she came across a street vendor with a box full of very cute, lovable little baby white rabbits.

Above the box of rabbits was a hand-written sign in Chinese characters which proclaimed that these little cuties were Australian pygmy rabbits which were already fully grown. The vendor claimed they were a brand new hybrid breed of rabbits, and an ideal pet for apartment-dwellers. This sounded very cool, and my wife bought two to bring back to Hong Kong. Easter was just around the corner.

The purchase price included a small wire cage, so my wife proceeded happily on to the train station with her newly acquired pygmy rabbits in the cage, under her arm. She boarded the train without incident. Soon after the train was underway, the conductor walked through the car, checking tickets.

After my wife presented her ticket, the conductor asked for the rabbits’ tickets. A lively and lengthy discussion ensued, with my wife vigorously questioning the need for baby rabbits to pay the same fare as fully grown humans, the conductor insisting this was required as a matter of policy, and so on and so forth, back and forth, forth and back, as the train sped through the Guangdong countryside, clacketa, clacketa, clacketa.

The debate on hare fares was deadlocked for quite some time, but eventually, the conductor pulled rank and threatened to prevent my wife and the two rabbits from leaving the train as it approached the destination. Little did the two Australian pygmies know, they were nearly the subject of an international incident.

My wife finally relented and paid full fare for the two rabbits, significantly raising the entry costs of our family’s arrival into the community of rabbit owners. She arrived home to a heroine’s welcome, and we all set about welcoming the new pets into our home. The kids were excited. So was I.

This was before the internet age, or we no doubt would have immediately engaged in googling “pygmy rabbit, Australian” and various related search items, to find out more about the care and feeding of these rare new hybrids.

Instead we built a nice little cage as a home for them, and placed it on our patio, at the edge of the garden, and put plenty of lettuce and carrots as well as a supply of water in there, and these cute little hybrids did what all rabbits would do in such circumstances: which is to engage in an active, almost constant program of inputs (eating, of lettuce mainly) as well as an equally impressive volume of outputs (you get the picture), with the latter requiring a fair amount of clean-up.

For the first day or so, my wife and I consoled ourselves that, since the tiny rabbits were already fully grown, the clean-up activities would remain manageable and not become too tiresome. In other words, no big deal.

But then a funny thing happened. With each passing day, and each passing head of lettuce, the rabbits were growing bigger and bigger, very quickly, as if on steroids.

When they first arrived, as high-priced train passengers from Guangzhou, they were the size of a pair of potatoes. Within a couple of days, they were as big as twin mangos; and soon afterwards, the size of porky papayas. Before we knew it, our hybrid pygmies were nearly as big as watermelons.

Obviously, the rabbit vendor by the train station was a very clever chap. Whether or not he knew that Easter was coming up shortly was unclear, but he had a well-attuned marketing sense, and we took the bait: hook, line and sinker. And lettuce.


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