My House Rabbit

My House Rabbit's Bunny Blog

Posts Tagged ‘wild rabbits’

Why Do Rabbits Have White Tails?

Friday, August 23rd, 2013
Brown rabbit

Unfortunately for Cosette, her natural brown coloring does nothing to camouflage her here.

Wild rabbits are well concealed in the brush by their brown coloring. But one thing gives them away – that flash of white from their tails as they’re bounding away. So why did rabbits evolve to have a white tail, and not a brown one? (Or a green one?)

Evolutionary biologist Dirk Semmann of the University of Göttingen in Germany thinks he knows the answer. Semmann believes the obvious, white coloring actually distracts and confuses predators as the rabbit darts back and forth. A predator focuses on the white tail during the chase, and then when the rabbit turns, the white disappears. It takes a second for the predator to regain focus on the rabbit after every sharp turn… and these seconds can add up to enough time for the rabbit to escape.

According to Semmann, “The idea first appeared when I was running,” says Semmann. “I met this rabbit; it was always running and turning at some point. That got me thinking about the problem.”

To test his theory, Semmann used a video game on a group of people which involved either a flashing, bright circle (the white tail) or a non-flashing circle that blended with the background. The presence of the flashing circle reduced the participants’ ability to “catch” it.

Learn more on Nature.com.

Springtime and Bunnies

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Spring has sprung here in Connecticut! After a frosty March, April has finally brought some warmer temperatures to the area.  This means more time outdoors!

Have you started a bunny garden yet? If not, now’s the perfect time to get some veggies growing! So far, we’ve planted a couple different types of romaine and greenleaf lettuces, bok choy, and Paris market carrots. I also have a plan to plant some oregano and some mint in a raised bed and let them battle it out.  If you’re new to gardening, read our tips to starting your own bunny garden. It’s not too difficult to grow a few basics for your rabbits – especially if you include dandelions as one of your crops!

Springtime also means more wild baby bunny sightings! Read our article about what to do if you find an orphaned baby bunny in your yard.

wild baby rabbits

Hoppy Spring!

It was the Bunny! Rabbits to Blame for Demise of Neanderthals

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013
Neanderthal

Mural by artist Charles R. Knight depicting a Neanderthal family.

A new study published in Journal of Human Evolution points the finger at rabbits for the demise of Neanderthals. John Fa of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust says the fall of the Neanderthal occurred when they failed to adapt to the changing availability of prey animals. These early hominids were adept at catching large animals, like dolphins, seals, and deer. There is even evidence from scales and feathers on their tools that they could also catch fish and birds. However, when smaller prey mammals like rabbits became a prevalent food source 30,000 years ago, it coincides with the decline of the Neanderthal population.

One theory is that Neanderthals failed to use cooperative hunting techniques like early humans did, such as surrounding a warren and forcing the rabbits out with smoke or dogs. This inability to adapt their hunting techniques to a changing environment may have ultimately led to their demise.

So the next time you’re trying to catch your house rabbit to trim his nails or take him to the vet, and he’s bounding away, escaping your grasp, just remind yourself that unless you’re part Neanderthal, you’re supposed to be able to catch him.

Learn more at New Scientist.

Rising Sea Levels Means Shrinking Habitat for Endangered Rabbits

Saturday, September 29th, 2012
Marsh rabbit

Photo by Tomfriedel.

The Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) is an endangered wild rabbit living in the Florida Keys. Subtle changes in sea levels have deeply affected their access to suitable habitat. Now, only a few hundred rabbits remain on just a few of the keys, including Boca Chica, Sugarloaf and Big Pine. Increased development on their habitat exacerbates the problem, as it blocks the rabbits from moving inland and it also limits the vegetation necessary to the rabbits’ survival from spreading inland.

According to Jeff Gore, a statewide wildlife biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, “Obviously, it’s already having an effect on the marsh rabbit, but in a state like Florida with so much coastline and so many endangered species, it’s going to be a major concern for decades to come.”

Read more at Science Blog.

Rare Sumatran Striped Rabbit Caught on Camera

Friday, June 1st, 2012

A very elusive species of rabbit was caught on camera by a group of researchers who were in Sumatra studying wild cats.

According to Jennifer McCarthy, lead author and doctoral candidate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst:

As part of my dissertation research on the four felids, or cats, we also happened to get pictures of this very rare rabbit. There had been a few camera-trap photos seen of it before, but very, very rarely. We wanted to take these observations a step further, so we worked with colleagues from the University of Delaware and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Indonesia Program to contact every researcher we knew throughout Sumatra who was doing camera-trap research, probably 20 or 30 people. This gave us good coverage of the island.

This unique striped rabbit was first photographed in 1998 and has been rarely seen since.

For more info, see Sci-News.

Watership Down Land Proposed for Development

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Sandleford

Sandleford in West Berkshire, England was home to the rabbits in Richard Adams’s novel, Watership Down. In the novel, the rabbits were forced out of their warren by developers.  Now, fiction may become reality as the West Berkshire Council has proposed Sandleford Park as a potential site for 2,000 houses.

Many people are opposed to developing on the greenbelt land, including Richard Adams, who was born in the area. “I am absolutely resolutely opposed to any development on that area. I am strongly opposed to it and would expect the planning authority to refuse any development.”

For more information, see:

BBC.co.uk
NewburyToday.co.uk
Say No to Sandleford Campaign

Conserving the New England Cottontail

Thursday, April 14th, 2011
New England Cottontail

Photo by Linda Cullivan, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Region

In an effort to bolster New England cottontail numbers, wildlife biologists have captured five cottontails from stable populations in eastern Connecticut and will transfer them to the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Rhode Island as part of a breeding program.  The offspring, once old enough, will be radio collared and released into Rhode Island. If the program is successful, they will release the young into other New England states as well.

It’s strange to think that such a prolific animal could be in danger of extinction, but the New England cottontail population has been dwindling for quite some time now due to loss of habitat (shrubby, “early successional” habitat) and competition with larger, hardier Eastern cottontails (which are not native to the region).

For more information, see: The Day.

Car-Eating Rabbits!

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010


Well, sort of. There aren’t any ferocious beasts of Monty Python caliber, but rabbits are being blamed for munched-on wires in the Denver Airport parking lot.

Dexter Meyer had parked his new Volkswagen Jetta in the airport parking lot while away on a nine day vacation. Upon his return, Meyer was greeted with blinking lights when he started his car. A trip to the dealership found that wires had been chewed through. The mechanic suggested a rabbit was the culprit because he had seen a few cars brought in from the airport with chewed wires.

The airport has a fence around the lot, but apparently the rabbits are too sneaky to be kept out by it. If those wild rabbits are anything like our two troublemakers wires are too tempting to not be chomped.

For more visit Denver’s 9 News.

Wild Rabbit Movie: Rabbit Love

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Agnes de Weert from the Netherlands sent in this amazing movie of a wild rabbit family living in her backyard last year. In the video, you can see the rabbits building a nest and the mama bun nursing the babies. Unfortunately, it is apparent that the mama bun was very sick, but the babies did survive.

Watch it here:

Yesterday, Agnes spotted two wild rabbits in her backyard. Perhaps there will be a new bunny family?

A Window into the Wild

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Rabbit in window

Students at Fremont Middle School in Fremont, Nebraska were surprised by an interesting view when they entered their social studies classroom. A wild rabbit had created a burrow in the snow right next to the window.

For more info, see The Fremont Tribune.