Sunday, July 13, 2008
The Not So Dumb Bunny
About a month ago, I noticed a tiny baby bunny sitting next to our manure pile. We’ve got several cats that regularly prowl around the perimeter of the barn, so I was worried about the little guy. The next morning, he was gone, but I saw him again a few days later in the front corral. I tried to chase him out before I opened the stall doors because I didn’t want him to get stepped on by the girls.
I discovered that the bunny has made his home in the day lilies next to the barn. It’s interesting that day lilies are very toxic to cats. I wonder if the bunny knows that. One neighbor’s cat, named Elroy, is a particularly skilled and aggressive hunter. Earlier this week, I came upon him crouched in the drainage ditch in front of the day lilies. I shooed him away and told the bunny to be careful. I’m sure the little fellow was hiding in that jungle of long skinny leaves.
When we lived in Virginia, we rescued a baby bunny from the clutches of a cat. My daughter called our vet, who referred us to “the bunny lady”. We drove to a house in a nearby subdivision where this woman had a garage full of cages of bunnies she was trying to save. She told me that bunnies are so timid that they often just drop dead from fright. Sometimes, she would nurse a bunny for weeks, and then it would startle when she came in to feed it and have a heart attack. I’ll never forget coming home a day later and finding yet another bunny sprawled out on its side under our trampoline. Reluctant to have to tell my daughter about this new tragedy, I walked away from the window. When I finally went out in the backyard to dispose of the poor animal, the bunny was sitting up happily munching on clover. A friend explained to me that the bunnies will eat so much clover that they “swoon”. After fainting and digesting, they wake up and go back to eat some more.
“That’s really stupid,” I said.
“Haven’t you ever heard of the term ‘dumb bunny’?” she asked.
Well, I’m here to tell you that there are some smart bunnies in this world. As I walked by the corral in back of the barn this morning, I saw Elroy, the cat, stalking the bunny. Siete was standing in the corral trying to stick her nose through the fence to eat the grass on the other side. Without hesitation, the bunny hopped over into the corral right next to the horse.
All of us froze. The cat stared at the bunny. Siete brought her head up and regarded the two creatures curiously. I stood holding my breath and praying that my horse wouldn’t whirl around and squish the little guy. Then, the bunny brought his front paws up to his mouth and started nonchalantly cleaning them. Siete stuck her head back under the fence to reach for more grass. I felt the two prey animals communicate clearly with each other. Siete told the bunny, “Don’t worry. I got your back.” It was the same as when I’ve watched Silk stand protectively under the baby birds in their nest in the rafters of her stall. Elroy knows better than to go anywhere near the horses, so he wandered off in search of an easier victim. Taking his own sweet time, the bunny hopped out of the corral and back into the day lilies.