Thursday, May 7, 2009

A week of rabbits

Living where I do, it's not uncommon to see the damage that rabbits do. This crocus, for instance, apparently was the blue-plate special for a cottontail.

But it's less common to actually see the critters that feasted on your beloved plants. This spring I was determined to have a nice crocus show; other years the show has been decimated by wildlife. So in addition to applications of milorganite and Plantskydd, we set a live trap in the crocus patch soon after seeing significant damage. It wasn't but a day or two later and we had our first victim. The bait of sunflower seeds worked like a charm. Let the relocation begin. We took the little guy to an undisclosed location far away from the garden and let him go.

And then, back home, we set the trap again. Just
in case. Two days later, another rabbit in the trap. Time for Relocation No. 2. (OK, the video's a bit lame but it gives you an idea of how fast these guys can move.)

The rabbits apparently had enough of the trap because the sightings over the next couple of days were on the other side of the yard. The silly dog would have none of this; he chased the bunnies through the compost area, behind the herb garden and down the trail our neighbors have cut through the woods. Fortunately, the rabbits are faster than the dog. No blood was shed. But this got me to thinking -- how fast can rabbits run? This comes from the Minnesota DNR web site:

"Cottontails have shorter legs than hares and rely on quick, dodging movements to escape predators. If chased, they usually circle within their territory. They can run up to 18 miles per hour and leap up to 15 feet. Eastern cottontails are not fond of water, but they can swim if necessary.

While hares have long ears, the cottontail's ears are shorter than its head. The cottontail has excellent hearing and can move its ears continuously to detect sounds.

The cottontail's eyes are set high on its head, and each eye can move more than half a circle. Both eyes together give the cottontail a 360-degree field of view. This full circle of vision helps the rabbit spot overhead predators such as hawks and owls."

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