Looking at Parenting Styles

Some people are better parents than others. Some animal species are better parents than others. So I posted about the mama duck that has decided to nest behind the hostas next to our front porch. This is a first for us. When we had children and a dog, no wildlife was so foolish as to attempt to come into the yard let alone try to raise their young within shouting distance of Ranger “squirrel chaser/chipmunk maimer”. This month our front yard is a designated wildlife sanctuary. About a week before the duck decided to lay eggs Sparky was mowing the yard. The grass had gotten a bit long due to the rain giving it a growth spurt and making it too wet to mow. As he approached the middle of the front yard he noticed a brown spot of dead grass. He stopped mowing to see what was up (possibly an area of grub infestation or maybe some of those ding-dang chipmunks). To his dismay it was a shallow burrow made by a rabbit. She had dug a small hole and plucked out her hair to line it. When Sparky examined it more closely by lifting the dry grass on top, he could see several little baby bunnies.

He placed a stick from the mulch on the top of the burrow supposedly to be able to see if the mother rabbit was coming back. He designated that area a “no mow” zone. We haven’t seen the mother rabbit but that isn’t unusual. Wild rabbits will only suckle their young every 10 to 12 hours and only for a few minutes. She is a pretty stealthy mom. Unlike the duck who doesn’t budge from her nest, the mother rabbit is seldom home. Not that she is a bad mother, on the contrary, she is an excellent mother. By spending so much time away from her babies, she is not attracting attention to them and not leaving a scent trail to the burrow. We’ve been monitoring them and they are growing. I haven’t wanted to disturb their burrow so I only have the one photo of the babies.

It appears that there are four baby bunnies currently. They have fur and their eyes are open. This places them at about 10 days old. They probably have another 2 weeks before they are ready to be on their own. Sparky is hoping our weather stays a little dry so that the grass isn’t unmanageable in the “no mow” zone once they’ve abandoned the burrow! At any rate he will need to reseed that spot!

UPDATE:I came home from work and Sparky announced that the bunnies had been in and out of their burrow all day. He managed to snap a photo before he spooked the little guys and they booked it back into hiding. I went out after dinner and there was no sign of them. The next morning they were all gone. Sparky found one hiding in the iris when he moved the hose. I’m pretty sure they will be moving to more secluded spots within days…

If you look closely you can just make out a second pair of ears above the bunny in the middle!

10 thoughts on “Looking at Parenting Styles

  1. Aw, they’re adorable! We’ve had a couple of fawns in the yard this spring, which has made mowing impossible at times. I’m glad the baby bunnies made it safely out of the burrow.

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    1. Fawns! That would be exciting! We have a small herd of dear that roam the neighborhood and are quite destructive. They ate all the daffodils in my neighbors flower bed and stripped the bark off her little tulip tree. It didn’t recover and they had to cut it down and are replanting… Still babies are fun to watch. The bunny in the iris has been hanging around the backyard and was spotted hiding in the day lilies yesterday. He/she is getting bigger by leaps and bounds…

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      1. Yes, they are destructive! This is the first year I’ve gardened in deer habitat. They did a number on my pole beans. Still, I didn’t manage mama chomping on my tomatoes as much later in the season when they were going toward milk production.

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        1. They are pretty indiscriminate munchers. The DNR has told some of my “nature loving” neighbors to stop feeding the deer. Seems it is actually worse for them than going without far a couple days-weeks. A very good document from the Indiana DNR – https://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/files/fw-feeding_deer.pdf
          Anyway, out neighborhood deer have moved to the woods for the summer. It is only in the fall and winter when people start feeding them that they decimate the flower beds, eat the shrubs and trees, and take all the bird food!

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