You probably have noticed a population explosion in the rabbit community in North Kildonan this year. Quite possibly in the city at large but I’ll write about North Kildonan and, in particular, my street and ,as it turned out, right in my own back yard.
I couldn’t help but notice the furry little creatures bouncing and jumping around the boulevards, ducking into bushes whenever a car or pedestrian got too near and just playing around with one or two other rabbits.
I was checking on some of my wife’s pansies that survived our winter in one of our flower beds and noticed a hole being dug right in the middle of them. When I went back into the house I looked out the window and saw a rabbit back in there digging. I went out and chased it away.
After all, we have two dogs and I didn’t think it would be a good place for the rabbit to nest. I just filled in the hole. One of the dogs chased the mother out of the yard almost daily, but she always came back for more.
A couple of days later I saw the rabbit back again, but this time she jumped out of a different bed where I had some wild grass growing. I searched around thought I saw some type of movement and lo and behold there were five babies…bald, blind, tiny babies.
The mother stayed out all day and the babies were hidden well enough that our dogs didn’t bother them at all. On advice from Animal Services, I soaked a towel in bleach and put it a couple of feet away from the nest. This was supposed to tell the mother it was not a safe place and she would likely move to another spot. But it didn’t happen.
Every night the mother came back and slowly made her way to the nest to suckle the babies for a short while, and then she was back into the night to forage.
She would show up again first thing in the morning and this pattern continued for approximately 10 days, by which time the babies had doubled in size, grown some fur and could see pretty well. I noticed them running around and I found them hiding here and there around the yard.
By the time these babies begin to eat solid food, which will be within the first three weeks of life, their mother will already be out mating again and ready to go with another litter. Three or four months from now these babies will be reproducing.
So this is why we have a rabbit population explosion, huh? I hope they don’t come back here.
My garden is just starting to look yummy!
Rick Sparling is a community correspondent for North Kildonan.