Thursday, June 09, 2005

Rabbit Trickster

She thinks we don't see her
Rabbits have suddenly made an appearance in our well-fenced yard. The pirate has checked the entire perimeter for possible breaches. He has reinforced places that looked like they could be entry points. He piled rocks in those places that still seemed penetrable. Still, they managed to come in. Last evening, while I was practicing with the camera-- taking shots of faraway roses, freehand (no tripod) in preparation for a day of hiking and photographing, I noticed some movement at the gate. The gate, which is right next to the kitchen window, is a homemade construction of framing and lathe. The lathe has openings that are approximately 3.5 inches at the widest point. Certainly did not seem possible that rabbits would be getting through there, but that's exactly what I saw-- a rabbit squeezing itself through the lathe gate and into our backyard. Next project: wire mesh on the bottom foot of the gate. We'll see how that works.

For any rabbit fans out there (of which I count myself) here are some fun rabbit facts.

Few animals are as content to sit unmoving for as long as rabbits are. As prey animals, rabbits go to extremes not to advertise themselves as available to be eaten—but that isn't to say they don't let their guard down once in a while. If lucky, the patient observer may see them in the early morning or evening hours in spirited and spontaneous chases of other rabbits, or energetically hopping and leaping about—revealing this animal's playful nature. While rabbits lead lives full of concern and fear, they sometimes display a joie de vivre that we can envy.

Rabbits are commonly misunderstood to be rodents, but they actually belong to their own order and are properly called lagomorphs. Lagomorphs are found in both the Old and New Worlds, with the New World species distinguished between "true" rabbits (genus Sylvilagus) and hares and jackrabbits (genus Lepus). While many people mistakenly believe that wild rabbits and domesticated pet rabbits are the same species, the truth is that the domesticated rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) belongs to another genus entirely and is only distantly related to his wild brethren.

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