Bunnies in Our Backyard - By Our Patio - Spring 2021
This post is two months late, but I still wanted to get around to posting these photos of a litter of baby bunnies that were born and raised in little burrow that their mother dug out RIGHT NEXT to our backyard patio this Spring. One day, I noticed a little disturbed section of grass right by our patio, but thought nothing of it. Until I came out a day or two later and saw a rabbit DART away from the patio. I wandered over to see what the rabbit was doing and I saw a squirming pile of VERY young bunnies piled on top of each other. They were purple and hairless. And they were so young that it seemed like I could see through their skin to see the electricity going on in their brains. Super weird. But, also concerning. Did I just scare away the mother and was she going to abandon these little bunnies? I didn't know what to do, but Nat started to search for answers and we decided to just simply top these very young bunnies with the loose grass and leave them alone. We kept Lizzie out of the yard for a while and hoped for the best.
We tried the 'dental floss' trick - where you lay out a cross of dental floss on top of the burrow - with the thought that *if* the litter was being tended to by the mother, she would come back, move aside the top cover (and the dental floss) and then put it back together after caring for the litter. The 'cross' of floss being disturbed was the 'tell' that they weren't abandoned. Sure enough, the day after we laid out the floss, it was disturbed. Thus, it seemed like they were being cared for by someone.
After reading up a little bit, we discovered that the parents usually returned to this carefully placed (note...it seems like they laid this litter close to us on purpose) at dawn and dusk. A few days of checking at night and nothing. We had placed a patio chair over the bunnies to give them a little shelter and keep everyone from trampling on them. Then, one night at dusk, I flipped on the flood lights out back. And what do I see? Momma Rabbit sitting on top of the litter nursing them (presumably) and making sure they're good to go. Caught in the act - see the photo below:
It didn't take long for the bunnies to grow up and get hairy. Must have been two weeks from purple, hairless little wigglers to what you would think of when you think about baby bunnies. Here, below, you can see them starting to outgrow their burrow and eye'ing us up and we eye'd them up.
A few years ago, we applied to be a Certified Wildlife Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation and have been displaying a sign ever since. There are four key pieces of the certification process - a habitat that provides food (seeds, nuts, fruit), water (birdbath, pond), cover (shrubs and wood piles) and....the relevant one to this post: places to raise young. We've earned that now, right?