The last rays of sunlight serrated through the broad jungle leaves splotching and spackling the path with odd shadow shapes. One shape piqued my interest. It was a small yellow jagged corner of paper that boasted the word, “Albert’s.” As I pondered this bit of information, another clue caught my eye. This yellow scrap announced, “Bailey’s FreshBread.” This was clear indication that I was on the right track. It was a paper trail. My pulse began to race as I mounted a high-powered battery lamp to my pith helmet. I adjusted the chin strap and angle of the beam until it formed a pool of brilliant halogen.
Cautiously, I followed the trail. The creature could be anywhere and could appear at any time. My senses were keen and my reflexes nimble. My body and wit were at the ready for it would take both if this venture were to succeed. The Velvet Paper Eater was a creature that required a delicate but firm touch. Any flaw or failing on my part could send the creature fleeing into the jungle. I was taking no chances.
The paper trail was more abundant now and I could hear faint sounds of munching and shredding in the distance. I was close. I dimmed the lamp on my helmet until it shone faint as a star. Then slipped to my knees, onto my belly and slithered along like a silent python. Howler monkeys in the trees behind me protested my presence and the sticky sap from the Yucca Mucca fronds stung like green arrows as it mingled with the cold sweat prickling on my flesh. An immediate insistent army of insects quickly set up camp and began taking samples and making notes regarding blood type and my particular coagulation features.
Suddenly, the leaves parted to reveal a grassy mound. My hands began to shake as reality set in. I had discovered the secret lair of The Velvet Paper Eater. About a half-inch to the left of the mound, aromatic grasses swayed in the slight breeze. There she was-a brown silhouette bathing in the moonlight. She was magnificent. My cheeks pinked as I observed the creature in her private moment, and even for propriety’s sake, I was unable to tear my gaze away. Her every movement was liquid and meticulous. She groomed one long silky ear and then the other. Although, she appeared totally self-absorbed and nonchalant, her bright intelligent eyes constantly surveyed the darkened undergrowth for any hint of danger.
All at once, the air exploded. The frantic trample of stampeding animals crashed through the bush in Dolby Surround Sound brillance.. A herd of elephants trumpeted past with hordes of screaming chimpanzees jumping up and down on their backs. Tarzan, the jungle king, belched out his distinctive call to his jungle queen, Jane.
Tarzan? Wait a minute.
I collected my thoughts and acclimated myself again to the real world. The credits rolled on the screen and I smiled, realizing I had just taken a fantasy dream trip, compliments of LazyBoy Tours.
Funny, though, I could still hear munching and shredding. I made my way carefully down the paper strewn path. This time without nagging insects or pith helmet. There standing before me in all her glory, with one paw possessively claiming her prize, was my Velvet Paper Eater
.“Velvet! Where did you get that phone book? You’ve eaten your way through the entire A section and half of the B’s!”
I could only grin and shake my head as I retrieved the remains of the tattered book. Anything left abandoned at rabbit level was always fair game. Surprisingly, the phone was still working and the cord appeared untouched.. Apparently, Velvet had decided to skip dessert until later.
My House Rabbit, Velvet, is my Velvet Paper Eater. She has undiscriminating tastes when it comes to paper. Any kind will suffice: phone books, dictionaries, newspapers, magazines, antique books, napkins, even wall paper. One evening while on the prowl for new and exciting delicacies, Velvet discovered a weakness in my wall paper. A tiny seam had come unglued.
“Don’t mind if I do,” I thought I heard her say.
With long ears streaming behind her, Velvet bounded away down the hall, with pink wall paper tearing as she went. She was in no doubt taking her bounty back to her lair to enjoy it in private.
On another occasion, I discovered her taking rabbit-sized bites from a brand new book I had just received in the mail as a gift. How ironic! The title was, “How to Train Your Rabbit.”
So, my friends, If you ever chance to visit a home where all the shelves are empty of books from the third row down, keep a close eye, for there is sure to be a paper eater lurking very near..
C Copyright 2003 by Deborah J. Lindsey
Rabbits should never be punished or scolded for
chewing inappropriate items They are natural chewers
and it is our responsibility as rabbit owners to provide