Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bunny crazy!

Peter that you?

In addition to it's human population, newer neighborhoods in Texas are commonly inhabited by wild cottontails. And, much to our household's amusement, ours is no exception. Though many people find them a nuisance we fully enjoy watching them, feeding them, and anything else these wildly nervous creatures allow us to do. What a priveledge it was, when the rare chance hopped our way to experience a more hands on relationship this past year.

It all started with Christina's emphatic declaration that the ground "chirped" at her. Thinking it to be some odd bug or phenominum, I went to the back yard to investigate her claims. Kneeling upon the ground, I listened as she applied pressure to various places until she again found the spot that had perked her interrest. Sure enough a small squeel of sorts made its way up through the ground.

Now, more curious than ever, I proceeded to slowely remove the top layer of dried grass to reveal a layer of loose fur mingled with dirt. Then, to our excitement, we saw what looked like naked newborn chipmonks, or something similar, blindly wiggling around, desperately trying to hide beneath their nearest companions.

Baby bunnies nestled in their "form" a few days after discovery.

Riddled with amazement, we determined that since we had already tainted the area with our scent unintentionally, we should at least make sure that none of them had been harmed. By now Nolan and Matthew had figured out that something eventful was taking place and had joined us in our little venture. Towel lined shoe box in hand, we proceeded to relocate the precious animals one by one, checking them over for undue stress or injury.

All 8 sleeping critters nestled together.

It is during this examination that we realize that not only did we have baby bunnies in our yard but that we have 8 of them, all of which were thankfully unharmed. Oh's and awe's aplenty, we venture to the computer to figure out what, if anything, we were to do about it. We soon find out that they are very difficult to raise by hand and that if they are to have any decent chance for survival they should be placed back in their "form" (nest like depression in the ground where we found them). We also found out that it is illegal to raise them unless you are a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator or are unable to find one and the situation merits human intervention. By now the kids are sad because they had hoped to take care of them and perhaps keep them as pets. After explaining to them the harsh realities of nature, they reluctantly agreed to help me put them back the way we found them.

As recomended, we placed small sticks on top with a tic-tac-toe like pattern so that we would be able to tell if the mother had been back to tend her young. The next day it was obvious that she hadn't returned, so we brought the babies in and tried to feed them the recomended formula from tiny bottles procured from our local pet supply store. They ate nearly nothing. In desperation, after spending hours unsuccessfully trying to feed them amid a lack of unreturned calls by our local Rehabilitor, I placed them back outside in their form hoping and praying that their mother was okay and would return to feed them.

If you enlarge this photo you can see the markings on the covered form.

Much to our relief the momma rabbit returned that night and fed her babies. (You could tell because the markings had been rearranged over the nest and the bunnies were very fat.) It turned out that unlike all the web articles I had read, this mother didn't return every morning and/or night to feed her young, but every other night as we observed on more than one occasion.
As the days went by the bunnies quickly grew. Their eyes opened less than a week after we first found them. We would sometimes check up on them, take pictures of their progress, or show them to neighbors or friends. We were even lucky enough to see their mother feed them twice! (Too bad we couldn't get that one on film.)

Within days the young rabits left the form and started hiding around the yard, slowly increasing their perameter as they grew more and more independent of their mother. Within weeks they were all grown up and on their own. We often wonder if they remember us, or if any of the bunnies we see were the ones we helped watch over in our back yard.

I spy.....a bunny?

What a memorable experience for the kids! Hopefully they will remember how hard it was to let the rabbits take care of themselves, but how necessary for their own survival, when they themselves aren't bailed out of difficult situations in life by Heavenly Father or their parents etc... Perhaps they will realize that they too have been given the necessary tools and freedom to meet their own individual needs, but are being watched over, prayed over, worried about, and loved by others who care enough to do the right thing despite how difficult it may be.


Trillium said...

Nice object lesson. Where are the pictures? :)

Anonymous said...

I loooooove to look at bunnies. I don't like holding them though...too many experiences of being scratched by their razor-sharp claws...ick. I ditto mom, are there pictures of your furry neighbors?

LoriT said...

Thank you SO much for sending me the link to your blog! You are an amazing woman with a wonderful family, and I look forward to reading a lot more about your adventures. :)

BTW, can we send our bunnies to your house? They've decimated our garden!

Rebecca said...

great story! It reminds me of my house... :) I am still amazes everytime we find new life in the yard.

DebbieLou said...

Lori, you are so kind! :) I'm sure that if I had a garden I wouldn't be as enthusiastic about rabbits either. (They don't seem to care much for my chives or basil, which is the extent of my outdoor growing this year.) Hopefully your garden survives. I heard it was awesome last year!

Chris said...

And you have to be extra careful about the ones with razor sharp teeth! It's as deadly as a Holy Hand Grenade. Ask Dave.

gufpfnss - what you end up saying through the hole in your throat after getting attacked by a rabbit with razor sharp teeh.