Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Resident Rabbit

If you are sharing your yard with a wild rabbit, odds are, it's a Cottontail. There are several different versions of the Cottontail Rabbit, the most common among them is the Eastern Cottontail. This rabbit can be found from Canada to South America. This is almost certainly the creature that inhabits my own yard.

As any animal lover has noticed, rabbits are cute. It's delightful to look out your window and spot a bunny with a white fluffy tail just sort of hanging out. Part of you begins to grow fond of him. On days you don't see him, you worry. Has he been picked off by an Owl? You understand that this adorable dweller is a wild animal that is not your responsibility. Yet a certain sense of obligation and concern intrudes. This is the power of a cute critter. All it takes to be vulnerable is to be a fairly nice person.

Now then, that's very heartwarming and sentimental. Meanwhile, here, the snow has melted. All winter long the bunny has been loitering by the stump near the driveway. He appeared to be eating the stuff that grows in abundance on and around the stump. This greenery, and it stayed quite green all winter, covers the stump with a unruly mass of curved branches lined with green leaves roughly the size of a quarter. Indeed, even after a winter of rabbit feeding upon it, the shrubbery is still thick. What this greenery is exactly, is unclear.

My weed reference book contains no convincing entry for it. However, it does vaguely (very vaguely) resemble Prostrate Pigweed. I mention this only because it is fun to say Prostrate Pigweed.

Actually, the green thing growing on the stump is most likely of the family Eunoymus. Not insignificant support for this theory is the fact that the Burning Bush is kin to Eunoymus. Ah, the Burning Bush. One once graced my front yard- beautiful riot of magenta leaves in autumn. Two winters ago, rabbit or rabbits unknown ate it to the ground. The Burning Bush did not reemerge. The magenta treat forever decimated.

A looming question remains. If it is a Eunoymus, how the heck did it grow on the stump? I did not plant it. There are a couple of Eunoymous growing under my front window. (Intriguingly, neither is the same color as stumpy). This plant cultivates by sending out shoots along the ground. Little roots protrude from these sprigs eager to establish new Eunoymus. The stump with the maybe Eunoymus growing on it is on the other side of the driveway. How did those branchlet runners make it across that vast expanse of concrete?

Another possible cultivation explanation is this: suppose the bunny who so brutally ingested the Burning Bush defecated on the stump whereby planting a seed. From this seed nestled in fresh manure, sprouted a little plant. In time, it grew to a vigorous spread of juicy green and great great grandrabbit reaped the harvest. A somewhat pleasing hypothesis and a better deal for the beauty of my front yard than the rabbit eating the Eunoymus under the front window.

Speaking of the front window, a very large, frighteningly large, cat frequently keeps vigil under that window. (Much to the consternation of my dogs.) This may or may not be a factor in the bunny's choice of dining location. (One hopes the ground squirrels get savvy to this dire threat.)

And now with spring here, my thoughts turn to planting a nice row of lettuce. Dare I? With more food to choose from, the resident rabbit is sure seek something other than pseudo Eunoymous. Yes, I'm soft hearted and willing to share. But dang it, just as the lettuce reaches the very pinnacle of perfection, you set out to cut some for yourself only to discover that the rabbit beat you to it.

No, we mustn't hold a grudge. Though I still miss that Burning Bush. Where's that sense of duty I was all sappy about? And rabbits are terribly cute. Can't forget that enchanting business of Peter Cottontail hopping down the Bunny Trail, can we? Even the most dedicated curmudgeon likes the Easter Bunny.

Let's have some sympathy for the wild bunny. It's a tough life. All those cars and cats and people and fences to contend with. What's the life span of the suburban rabbit? A year or two? That's not even accounting for the high death rate of the baby rabbit. They are born naked and helpless in an open nest on the ground. Perfect set up for Feral Cat Buffet. Baby Bunny: Appetiser most recommended by Hawks.

OK. I'll plant an extra row and hope there is honor among rabbits. Happy Easter every bunny.


  1. Wonderfully cute post. I'm still trying to pronounce Eunoymous which sounds like a mythical creature from Hades.
    Our bunnies here have the danger of coyotes, road runners, snakes, owls and hawks for starters. I think dogs and cats too, but I'd rather not think about that now. The Easter Bunny needs a break.

  2. I love burning bushes. We have three in the front yard — they're the only bush the deer haven't stripped bare — and they're rather prolific plants. I've assumed, though not been sure, that they grow by the roots. Since moving in about two years ago, I've cultivated 13 burning bushes from the original three. I plan to one day have burning bushes lining the entire roadside edge of our property. Can't wait for spring!

  3. Yes, from what I've been able to gather, the Burning Bush is a one root shrub style plant, a cousin to the more spralling Eunoymous that root out like a lawn.

    A Burning Bush hedge! Sounds beautiful!!

  4. I've had three pet bunnies in my lifetime. THey're wonderful.

  5. If nothing else, I think bunnies emote serenity on the sight of them. I'm sure they have their bad days, too!

  6. I learned about the circle of life from a bunny. We had a very cute little one in our yard when I was about 8 or 9, then it just disappeared. Over dinner a couple days later my uncle remarked how great my "lil bunny" tasted. Needless to say I didn't eat and spent the rest of the night in tears. I still to this day don't know if he was serious or teasing me.