It’s a girl! Our Eastern Cottontail Rabbit friend. It turns out, ‘He’ is really a ‘she’! Do you know how I know? She had a litter of bunnies right under our noses!!!
shallow form nest with baby bunnies
Well, not exactly. She had them under an evergreen shrub below one of our windows. Guess who found them? Our nosey dog McGuffin, of course! She never bothered with that shrub until a few days before, when she kept sniffing around there. We didn’t clue in until it looked like she was trying to dig it up. Of course, mom wasn’t going to have any of that!
“McGuffin, what are you doing? Get out of there! . . . Stop messing around! You’re going to wreck my shrub! . . . McGUFFin! What do you have?! DROP IT! McGUFFin, drop it! DROP IT!!!”
Mom was freaking out! “Mom, what’s going on. What is it?” “That darn rabbit has gone and had babies right here in our backyard! What rabbit in their right mind would make a nest of bunnies here, with a crazy dog roaming about!?!” (whispering to you, my reader) “Mom actually loved ‘that darn rabbit’.”
We didn’t know how long we’d have to tie her up, but there was no way we would let her eat Rabbit’s babies! I felt sorry for McGuffin. This was her yard to roam free in!
Mom’s taken to calling Rabbit “Beatrix”. We figured Beatrix got wise to the dog danger. A week later she had moved her litter. We never figured out where. She’d still come around as usual, but the bunnies were nowhere to be found.
cottontail hiding in goldenrod & asters
It wasn’t long after, the middle of summer I think, that McGuffin got sniffing around in that same way, this time along the deck behind a patch of tall plants with yellow, flowery bunches on top. We clued in quicker this time. Checking it out for ourselves, sure enough, we discovered another litter of bunnies. Like the first, they were so young they had no fur and their eyes were shut tight. We couldn’t tell how many there were because they were all cozy together in their bed of grass and rabbit fur. . . the next time I saw Beatrix in the yard I noticed her rear end was bald in places.
Our dog learned the first time. Even though she really wanted to get her muzzle in there and snoop about, she obeyed our wishes and stayed away. And Beatrix decided to keep her bunnies where they were!
At times, we wondered if the little ones were still alive. It wasn’t often that we’d see Beatrix go in to them, and when we’d peek over the side of the deck all we could see was the fur covering over them. The odd time we thought we’d see it move, but we couldn’t be sure.
Then, after three weeks, there were little bunnies moving around in our grass! McGuffin saw them first. I started screaming and jumping up and down. Before mom could get to her she had one in her mouth. Shouting for Dad, Mom managed to get it out and beyond reach up onto her shoulder. Dad raced out and got a hold of McGuffin. There seemed to be bunnies everywhere. Mom and dad had to be really careful where they stepped! While dad dragged McGuffin into the house, mom put two of the bunnies back into the nest, while a third ran away across the yard and under the fence. I noticed that he didn’t hop like his mom, but he sure did go fast.
I took a peek in the nest a little while later. All the bunnies were gone. That night mom’s neck and shoulder were itchy. She’s allergic to rabbits!
After that day, it wasn’t very often that we’d see the little ones. I discovered, though, that Beatrix has a favourite spot to sit during the day when the sun is hot — in a little earthy groove under our neighbour’s bush up against our fence.
. . . It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Beatrix in our yard or under the neighbour’s bush. I wonder where she is? I’m pretty sure, though, that it’s one of her babies, much bigger now, who visits us quite often . . .
This completes the tale of “Our Backyard Cottontail”. We have thoroughly enjoyed sharing with you! : )