Buck Teeth
Off The Wall, January 15, 2010

You may remember last year I had the indubitable pleasure of interviewing Delbert, a buck readying to find its mate during the rut of deer season. Well, it may be of interest to you that I happened to encounter our four-legged friend while heading to my favorite fishing hole on Loyalhanna Creek. I think he was as much surprised to see me as I, him.

So, first off, I had to congratulate him for making it through firearms’ season. He sighed in relief snorting with a smile on his face as he demonstrated his positive mood.

And then, just as two friends who’d come to meet after not seeing each other for a spell, I happened to ask, “Well, Delbert, what’s new?” That started the ball rolling.

“I wasn’t the only one to make it through hunting season,” he pointed out. “Let me take you over and introduce you to Bunny Woople.” And so I met a new inhabitant of the woods in Unity Township.

“You see,” Delbert emphasized, “there is something very special about Bunny and Mrs. Woople. Are you ready for this, Paul?” I nodded, for I couldn’t wait to learn something new. “A male rabbit is also called a buck, and yes, you got it, a female is called a doe. And you probably thought we deer only had those names given to us, right? I’d like to think that was true,” he continued, but unfortunately that is the truth.”

Just as I was making myself comfortable amidst the drifts of fallen snow, Mrs. arrived. I told her who I was and that Delbert introduced me to her husband and that they didn’t have to worry, I was a friendly reporter just getting the facts, and all would be all right.

Tell me about your children, I questioned them both. Mrs. piped right up and told me all I had to know as I listened intently amongst the wintry surroundings. “Our lineage goes back many, many years,” she began. “The Whoople name was given to us at the onslaught of my family’s beginning, and our children have always been called Whooplewoos, woos interpreted as ‘little ones.” That’s how relatives always knew the adults from the children. Formerly, we are called Kits, Kittens or a kindling when we are born. But to actually let other rabbit families know when our kind is born in the neighborhood, we use the lineage name instead. If one of my Kits gets out of line, it is easier for others to say the problem was caused by a Whooplewoo.”

I heard your pregnancy lasts about one month and that you usually have four to eight Kits. Is that true? “Yes, Paul. But here is something I bet you didn’t know. Each one is born deaf, blind and without fur, so they are completely dependent on me for survival.”

So, I know a nest is made before having your young. Do both you and Bunny Whoople contribute 50/50? “Oh no,” said the Mrs. “I do most of the work. I will pull fur from my body to make the nest nice and warm. I will feed them once or twice a day with my milk.” Then, she threw a question in my direction. “Do you know that rabbit milk is one of the richest milks found in mammals?” “Nope, didn’t know that,” I responded.

Then Bunny and Mrs. Whoople shared additional tidbits that further educated me.

“First of all, we do most our running around sunup or sundown. If we are caught in the heat of things, say in the summer, we can suffer heatstroke. Not a fun thing at all.”

She went on. I was all ears (not rabbit ears, though). “We can sense predators are near. If we become too frightened, we can literally be frightened to death, Paul.”

My imagination started to wander a bit when I was informed that their teeth continue to grow no matter what age. I wondered if that’s where the expression came from – “buck teeth.” Of course, I didn’t want to embarrass Bunny by asking him that question.

Both Bunny and Mrs. Whoople assured me there was much more they could tell me. I told them I would surely love to come back when the Whooplewoos are with them.

Departing, I saw Delbert off in the distance and waved to him. I then smiled at my little furry friends. May we both cross paths soon again, I said. They nodded in agreement.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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