Beatrix Potter with rabbit, Benjamin Bouncer, 1891. Realising she wanted a rabbit for her story, Ms. Potter butchered and boiled her own pet rabbit, who she had named Peter, to use as a reference model. The book was, of course, Peter Rabbit. Squirrel Nutkin was a squirrel she shot out of a tree while on a morning walk. She chloroformed a bullfrog and sliced it open to study its anatomy, for the character Jeremy Fisher.