animal psychology, Ecology

The Cynic and the Bunny

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Here’s the Bunny — he’s started hanging around our yard — not very sensible as you know we have killer cats who eat a baby rabbit  a day at this time of year.  This bunny is larger than the ones they usually catch but he would still fit through the cat-flap so he’d better look out.

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He sits (he could be a she)  and he watches (can you see that his eyes are arranged like a sheep’s, so that he can see almost all around himself) so he knows I’m there — clomping up behind him in my wellies.  He doesn’t lollop off until the dog bounds up to sniff him.

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Off he lollops with his bobtail flashing

Pedro, the dog, can kill rabbits, but all he wants to do with this one is sniff it — perhaps he needs to know exactly what it is as it is behaving in such a peculiar way — this bold bunny.

When Pedro was young he used to bring in live baby rabbits, we called them punk rabbits as he licked their fur into spikes, he would put them down in front of us and cock his head enquiringly, ‘ Can we keep it?’ he seemed to ask.  They were all liberated into the big outdoors and probably eaten by the unsentimental buzzard — ‘This rabbit tastes odd!’

Next time I see the bold bunny, I’m inclined to feed it some sheep nuts; perhaps this is how rabbits were domesticated or, more likely, it’s a sick rabbit — it’s wits dimmed by disease and protected from predation by the instinct of predators not to eat infected meat (unless they really have to).

It doesn’t seem to have any features of myxomatosis, its eyes are clear and not running with pus, it has no obvious tumours, though now I come to think of it, that cheek is rather chubby.  British rabbits are supposed to be getting some degree of resistance to myxomatosis which we haven’t seen since we’ve lived here but I still remember the short-lived delight I had as a child — being able to run up to a furry creature and it not to run away and my mother’s panicky ‘Don’t touch it!’

Perhaps I will offer it some sheep nuts if I see it again — you never know — hope might triumph over cynicism, just occasionally.

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