By Max R. Weller
I’ve meant to write this post for at least a week — but the Sexually Violent Predator scandal (involving Boulder Shelter for the Homeless taking money from Colorado DOC to house this dangerous felon) kept getting in the way.
Br’er Rabbit and his cottontail family are a welcome break:
Eastern cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus); Boulder, CO is at the extreme western edge of this species’ range.
Every evening, I’m treated to about half-a-dozen of these critters going about rabbit business and sometimes coming close enough to me that I might reach out and touch them. No doubt, there are many more close by that I haven’t seen and counted. I’ve learned that rabbit fights are a joke — the combatants square off, lay their ears back, then both leap into the air and make girly slapping motions at each other while huffing like a two-pack-a-day smoker. I can’t imagine any injury ever being inflicted . . . Rabbit sex lasts no more than 3 seconds, so if you happen to be yawning at the moment of joining you’ll miss it . . . I figure there must be at least four generations of rabbits, judging by their relative sizes from tiny to fully grown, around my campsite . . . They won’t touch bread or cereal that I put out for the mice (and which those filthy varmints the prairie dogs will steal), but they consume a LOT of green grass in the course of the hours I observe them . . . The rabbits’ grooming habits are much like those of the housecat, being fastidious. Like birds, the rabbits will take “dust baths” to get rid of fleas, and the blissful expression on their faces as they roll in the loose dirt is something that birds can’t show . . . They have a complex network of trails in the general area around me, and I’d guesstimate it covers about an acre . . . The rabbits’ burrows may have been borrowed from the prairie dogs; I’m not clear on this point, but both species will use the same underground shelters (but not at the same time). The prairie dog is a much more efficient excavator, so I tend to think they made the burrows . . . Last time it rained overnight, one of the rabbits (which has decided I’m harmless) crawled underneath my tarp and dozed off.
I haven’t noticed hungry foxes, coyotes, or hawks dining on the rabbits of my acquaintance yet. If this happens, I’ll let Nature take its course — being firmly grounded in reality rather than Disney-inspired silliness about animals. For now, I’m happy with the way things are.