. . . or how prolific rabbits really are!
Living on the edge of Ontario's beautiful Oak Ridges Moraine conservation area has many benefits: the views, the serenity and the wildlife among them. The latter can create certain challenges though. For example, we would never let our dogs out unaccompanied because of the coyotes in the forest. This year, we're experiencing a new challenge: our property has become home to an overabundance of bunnies. Oh, we’ve had the occasional rabbit or two in past years, but this year they seem to want to demonstrate that rabbits really are as prolific as reputed.
We started out with one bunny this spring…
. . .or so we thought. Clearly, there had to have been at least two, because the next thing we knew, we had eight.
In just over a month, we saw another bunch of adorable tiny bunnies and the month after there was a new litter again.
As cute as they are, there are two negative consequences of having so many rabbits. First, our gardens provide an all-you-can-eat buffet, and they seem to favor the healthiest of our perennials.
If the rabbits sense danger, their initial defense mechanism is to stay motionless and hope the danger passes. We have two dogs, and this works relatively well as long as the rabbit is not too close. Rabbits must not have a pronounced odor, because the dogs don’t realize they're there unless they are almost upon them or the bunnies move. If the bunnies bolt, the chase is on! The bunnies are faster than the dogs, and smaller so that they can squeeze under fences and other obstructions to escape. Fortunately, it's only our gardens that occasionally fall victim to their game of chase.
On the plus side, the bunnies from the most recent litter seem to favor eating weeds over flowering plants.
The little guy pictured below has demonstrated a definite preference for weeds. I pulled a couple of weeds from the garden and before I could dispose of them, he came to claim them and ate every single one!
I understand that rabbits are trainable; wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could harness our bounty of bunnies and train them to be selective and eat only the weeds? It seemed like a great idea, until the little guy in the above pictures made it clear that the weeds didn't have the same appeal if they weren't pulled first. It might be a way to get rid of the weeds, but I would still have to do most of the work!
Seeing how quickly the bunnies seem to be multiplying, I did some research on how prolific rabbits actually are. The answer is staggering! A rabbit’s gestation period is less than a month and mother rabbits can be impregnated again within minutes of giving birth, potentially resulting in a litter per month. According to this article by Dr. Dana Krempels, Ph.D., one mama bunny and her female descendants could produce 184,597,433,860 rabbits in seven years. (That’s over 184 billion bunnies!)
I better consider planting more gardens (or find a way to curtail our bunny population)!
They really are cute though . . .
Has Mother Nature created any challenges for you in or around your home?