Baby Bunnies

Friday morning, Lilly flew from her crate to the dog pen to potty when she awoke.  A scent, however, derailed her morning routine. I could NOT for the life of me get her to stop sniffing one corner of the pen. She was intrigued. So, when she made a B-line for that same spot outside the pen after breakfast, I thought for sure we’d found a snake den or something worse. Imagine how happy I was, then, to see baby bunnies, not snakes.

It looks like the momma bunny decided that this plastic riser (essentially a plastic pot without a bottom) was a safe spot to keep her babies.

At the beginning of the growing season, I’d piled some extra garden hose and tipped the wheelbarrow upside down on top of the riser. So, they have a bit of a roof over their heads.

At first, I figured since Lilly didn’t find them until Friday that they were only days old, but Tom looked online and found great info from the House Rabbit Society. It seems they are born hairless, so clearly these babies are not brand-brand new. We also learned that they open their eyes around 10 days, so they are at least that old.

I’ve even seen them out of the nest hopping around inside the riser, so they’re getting more active … and bigger. I took this photo on Tuesday.

Originally, we thought there were five of them in the little hole, where they sleep.

But, after seeing them bigger and out of the nest. I’m pretty sure we have SIX baby bunnies.

The info we found online said that as long as they are quiet, then they are being fed and are fine, even if you never see the momma bunny. It explained that she’ll only be around for them to nurse about 5 minutes a day, and that’s usually in the middle of the night. I guess they wean around 3-4 weeks old.

Wild! That must be some potent bunny milk to keep them going all day long.

Lilly, The Gentle (maybe)

Now you might think that we’d have a bunny massacre on our hands (and we still might), but Lilly showed no interest in making a snack of them. She really wants to watch them. She really wants to sniff them, but I think because they aren’t moving much (or worse running from her), they don’t trigger her prey drive.

Seriously, she practically put her nose right on them Friday morning, but she never seemed like she wanted to eat them.

Still, because she is obsessed, Tom wired up an old baby gate we had in the shed. It leaves room for the momma bunny to come and go, but it blocks the space between the dog pen and the greenhouse so that the dogs cannot get to the bunnies.

(I would show you a broader photo of the setup, but it looks kind of messy.)

Guarding the Bunnies

Since Lilly is so keen on the bunnies, so is Ginko, but she won’t let him anywhere near them. She growls and postures at him until he moves away.

So, I suppose I could say that she is  protecting them, but I think it’s more like she would resource guard a really good toy … and not that she has adopted them like sheep.

If this were a Disney movie, Lilly and the bunnies would become fast friends.

Real life? Not so much.

Bunny Chasing, Bunny Catching

Our goal is to keep them safe as long as we can. Lilly and Ginko both chase the bigger rabbits who live under our shed and under the deck.

Lilly did catch a tiny one years ago. I thought for sure she’d caught a bird based on the screaming I heard, so in what still remains my best DROP IT ever … I hollered for her to drop it, and she did.

Unfortunately, it was so young that it had no idea (or was too scared) to run away, so she picked it up again. I reached her by this point and got her to put it down again. I held onto her until it could hop under our deck.

I pretend it survived the ordeal, but I honestly do not know.

Lilly and Ginko do have one confirmed kill. It was a two-dog chase, and Ginko really thumped the rabbit with a front paw. We got them away from it and tried to nurse the rabbit along, but it died from what I can only assume were internal injuries because it looked fine from the outside.

Both of these incidents were years ago. I haven’t seen either dog catch a rabbit since then. Either the rabbits have gotten faster or smarter, or the dogs are slowing down some. Even at top speed, the rabbits seem to reach the fence or protective cover faster than the dogs can.

I hope that trend continues, but I fear otherwise.

Sorry, Chipmunk!

Tuesday, Lilly sat outside with me while I worked at our patio table on the laptop. She heard something rustle beneath a tree. She investigated. The chipmunk bolted, but he wasn’t fast enough to get under the deck in time.

She chased. She pounced. I asked her to DROP IT, and she did, but he died a few minutes later. I’m such a sap, but it made me really sad.

I’m not sure what the survival rate is for baby bunnies. I just hope the dogs don’t push the rate down.

6 thoughts on “Baby Bunnies

  1. July 9, 2010 at 5:05 am

    I love having baby wildlife around, but like you, have to watch the dogs. Mine do chase and usually kill things in the woods. I’ve had a wood rat, squirrels and armadillos brought back to the house. Ugh. The rabbits here seem faster though. I hope yours make it!

  2. July 8, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Adorable! I wish the bunnies luck as they get older – hopefully Lilly has bonded with them and it won’t occur to her to try to get one. I know – probably wishful thinking – but it sometimes happens with dogs and cats, right??

  3. July 8, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    So cute!

    Lola got a baby bunny out at the agility training field and that was not a happy day for me. There was a nest under the shed in the field so yeah that was also not the smartest place. On the other hand the rabbit population out there that year was out of hand and I put the dead baby where birds of prey hunt so hopefully it worked its way back into nature.

  4. Hilary
    July 8, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    How exciting! I’m glad you and Tom put some wiring around just in case the dogs wanted to get in their nest. I had no idea that they only nurse once a day! I guess when they’re big enough, they’ll hop away…

  5. KB
    July 8, 2010 at 7:02 am

    That is VERY cool! It looks like mama bunny is perhaps not the smartest bunny ever but it must be fun to watch your little brood grow. I hope that you can keep them safe from the pups. I agree – if they start running around, almost any dog would chase.

    Five minutes of nursing per day? My goodness – that’s a short time. It must be very fatty and nutritious milk, that’s all that I can say!

    1. July 8, 2010 at 8:09 am

      What’s weird KB is that the resources we found online says that they often put these nests in plain sight, like in the middle of the grass or something, so the fact that she put it inside a protected tub with a bit of a roof is better than most. Still … it is very close to a place the dogs go a lot, so that’s not so keen.

      At least the riser doesn’t have a bottom to it. With all the rain we’ve been having, I’d be worried it would fill up and the babies would drown.

      That was my thought about the milk. It must be crazy potent stuff to keep them going for a whole day from just one feeding.