VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WIAT) — An Alabama pet has her eyes and ears out to win a national pet competition, all thanks to her “bunny” name.

Leapus Maximus, a rabbit from Vestavia Hills, is a finalist in Nationwide’s “Wacky Pet Names” competition. Alexander Davies, an attorney with Stanley & Associates, adopted her from acquaintances towards the end of 2021 when she was two months old.

“They thought it would be an easy first pet and rabbits are not easy first pets. They require a lot of maintenance and attention and are very fragile,” Davies said. “So when they realized they couldn’t take care of her, that’s when I stepped in to make sure she didn’t wind up at a rescue or somewhere like that, and so I just took her off their hands.”

When asked how he came up with her name, Davies says it “hopped” out of his head.

“The day I took her home and got her out of her travel case, she immediately leapt about 15 feet across the room,” Davies said. “I’d also recently rewatched the movie ‘Gladiator’ and thought Leapus Maximus was a good homage to Maximus Decimus Meridius, the main character in that movie.”

Davies says his favorite characteristic of Leapus Maximus is her endearing nature.

“She, like most rabbits, takes a long time to get them to warm up to you,” Davies said. “They’re prey animals so they naturally are distrustful of people, but once they let you into their world, they’re very affectionate and nice to have.”

On days when he works long-hour shifts, Davies gets a little help from his friends Sarah and Daniel to take care of Leapus Maximus.

“Because rabbits are social creatures, they need to spend time around other people or rabbits so that they’re not lonely,” Davies said.

Since rabbits require a lot of proper love and care, Davies encourages those interested in adopting their own fluffy friend to do their research before committing to the idea. He recommends consulting with the Alabama Rabbit Rescue in Birmingham, an affiliate of the House Rabbit Society.

“Rabbits should not be left in small enclosures for long periods of time. They need room to roam around, get exercise and play so that they’re happy,” Davies said. “There are plenty of rabbits out there that need adoption, but just remember, it’s not a short commitment either because rabbits can live 10 to 12 years, especially if they’re well cared for.”

Davies is “hop-timistic” that his pet will win the contest, but there won’t be any “hare” feelings if another contestant is crowned the wacky name champ.

“It’s Latin, and it literally translates to ‘Great Leaper’ which she is but I’ve seen the other entries, which are fun as well so I think people should take a look and pick what they like the most,” he said. “I like Leapus Maximus, I think that it’s a fun name for a rabbit.”

To vote for Leapus Maximus and view the other contestants of Nationwide’s Wacky Pet Name contest, click here.