Leaping Lapins. The Easter bunny has struck back, and with a vengeance. Harvey; the attack rabbit, is on the scene.

Disguised as a mild-mannered bunch of fluff, Harvey apparently began his contact with humans as an Easter plaything himself, living in Manhattan. A week and a half ago, his owners placed Harvey with the Manhattan office of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Harvey had bitten his sixth human being.

ASPCA's executive director, Duncan Wright, noting Harvey's ferocious talent and knowing that it only needed the proper outlet to be socially acceptable, put Harvey to work as a watch rabbit, guarding the ASPCA's office against burglars.

Nonetheless, by yesterday, Harvey's militancy, andhis distrust of humans, hadn't abated.

"He's attacked me twice," says Wright. "He had to jump a foot. Fortunately his mouth won'e open but so wide or I would have had to go to the hospital to have my arm taken care of."

Wright wasn't angry with Harvey, though, but with the situation that had produced him.

"It really makes you wonder about people," says Wright, who noted that the shelter had received in the last year every kind of animal from a Chinese spitting cobra ("We gave that to the zoo") to an alligator.

"Harvey reflects a very bad situation," says Wright. I'm sure he was subjected to mistreatment. He was probably teased repeatedly until he realized that if he bit them first, they would leave him alone. He's perfectly all right as long as no one comes more than a foot near him."

Hartley, who came to the ASPCA with the name "Bunny," spent sometime with the New York Department of Health - just to make sure his anti-social behavior wasn't the result of illness - before settling into his present position as watch rabbit. Wright thinks the ASPCA's premises will make any prospective intruder think a bit before proceeding with any skulduggery.

He is, however, still hesitant about the efficacy of having rabbits with such aggressive natures.

"I've never seen a rabbit that was born mean," says Wright. "Harvey is the result of human unkindness to animals." There was no way to tell where in the rabbit's life he had been mistreated or by whom.

Wright obviously doens't take much stock in that paean to rabbitry by Richard Adams called "Watership Down," or he might think again about Harvey's assertiveness. Someone just might have packed a warrior bunny named Harvey in amongst the jelly beansand Easter eggs.