A bunny is a girl’s best friend: Maria Gross ’24 and her pal Mochi


Maria Gross ’24 often brings Mochi around campus or to her classes. (Photo courtesy of Maria Gross ’24)

Instead of the alarm app’s radar noise or the chorus to her favorite song, Maria Gross ‘24 wakes up every morning at 7 a.m. to the sound — and feeling — of scratching.

This is the work of her pet rabbit Mochi, who some may know from sightings around campus or as the subject of the Instagram account @marquis.de.mochi, which has amassed over 160 followers. 

From social media posts to Yik Yak comments, Mochi is the talk of the town around campus. Gross often takes her around the Quad on a harness and leash or carries her in a clear boxy backpack. 

Gross’ suitemate Marisa Riebesell ’24, who described herself as introverted, gets her daily dose of social interaction when Mochi is around. 

“I’ve never talked to more people in my entire life than when I’m out with Maria and Mochi,” she said. 

“She’s a celebrity,” Christina Perota ’24, Gross’ roommate, added. 

Gross and Mochi first met last May when Riebesell found a white bunny with brown and black spots hiding under a bush outside of March Field. 

“She was very friendly, but she was really scared,” Riebesell said. “She’d been out there for a few days, is what I heard.”

Riebesell sent out a missing animal post on social media that was met with no responses. As the last of her friends to leave campus for the semester, Gross stepped up to take care of the bunny.

Since the beginning of the fall semester, Mochi has resided in Gross’ room in McCartney South. Mochi is a registered emotional support animal for the academic year, through the support of Gross’ therapist and accessibility services.

With Mochi by her side, Gross has the extra motivation to push forward through her days. 

“She literally gets me out of bed in the morning,” Gross said. “I’m like, ‘I don’t want to take care of myself, but I have to take care of her.’”

However, taking care of Mochi means putting up with some trouble. She has chewed through several of Gross’ chargers and has even peed on her bed.

“She has a very, very big personality,” Gross said. “She very much likes treats and attention and getting into things that she shouldn’t be.” 

To mitigate biting sprees, Gross has “rabbit-proofed” her dorm, which entails putting covers over cords, placing personal items on tall surfaces and securing plastic protectors on furniture corners.

Perota, who spends a lot of time with Mochi, described her as “sassy.”

“She comes on my lap to watch shows and then she’ll attack me later,” Perota said of Mochi.

However, Gross loves Mochi for all of her quirks, whether endearing or disastrous. Mochi is a Mini Rex breed of rabbit, making her very small and perfect for cuddles, according to Gross.

“When she’s happy she will come up to me and lay down,” Gross said. “She is crazy soft. She feels like a throw blanket.” 

Mochi has been trained to roam around Gross’ room freely when her owner is in class or busy. However, Gross often allows Mochi to venture outside of the bounds of a dorm room. Specifically, Mochi has taken a liking to Van Wickle Hall, where Gross, who is a geology major, has most of her classes. 

“I’ve gotten to know my professors really well and they’ve gotten to know her,” Gross said. “So whenever there’s a lab period, I’ll bring her in for that.” 

Gross misses Mochi when she goes away for just the weekend to visit her boyfriend. 

“My boyfriend makes fun of me because I’ll just find myself scrolling through her Instagram [and] looking at my own photos of her,” Gross said. 

Gross, Riebesell and Perota all described Mochi as living a “spoiled” life, as she is fed fresh greens and fruit, gets a lot of attention and spends time outside often.

“Maria loves her very much,” Riebesell said. “If I’m gonna be reincarnated, I want to come back as Mochi. Maria takes such good care of her.”