Monday, August 17, 2015

A Bevy of Bunnies (or how prolific rabbits really are) by Kate James



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?

Watch for our upcoming fall promotion! 


My October 1st release, When the Right One Comes Along (book one in my K-9 trilogy), is available for pre-order from HarlequinAmazon and other major online retailers!



Brought together by disaster. Kept together by love.

In the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, it’s chaos for trauma surgeon Jessica Hansen. Among the many victims, one patient stands out—San Diego Police K-9 search and rescue officer Cal Palmer.

Cal vows to help Kayla, a child orphaned by the disaster. But he needs Jessica’s help. Will their shared concern for Kayla and for Cal's canine partner, Scout, allow them to put aside their personal torments and discover the difference love can make?


42 comments:

  1. Bunnies snacked on the seedlings in our garden, but deer gave the biggest insult. They wandered onto the front porch and ate every chrysanthemum bloom, leaving me with a lovely pot of stems. Good thing the deer and rabbits are so darn cute.

    A doctor, a search and rescue officer, a child, and a dog? Sounds like my kind of book. Can't wait to read it.

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    1. You're right about the deer, Beth! We have a clump of three evergreens at the side of our house. Deer ate everything within easy reach (shoulder to head height). The previous owners of the house had to plant some shrubs in front to cover up the bare spots. We see deer occasionally, but I think they're more respectful of dogs than the bunnies.

      If you do get a chance to read WHEN THE RIGHT ONE COMES ALONG, I would love to hear from you to know how you enjoyed it.

      Happy reading!

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  2. Yowza! I never knew rabbits could produce so many offspring, Kate. We had a lot of rabbits in our yard, earlier this summer. Unfortunately, I believe the coyotes have curtailed our population. Although destructive, they are cute little fellas

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    1. It's a little scary how many bunnies we could have. They do have natural predators, but I don't like to think about that. I might have to have carrots brought in by the truckload to save my gardens!

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  3. We don't have rabbits. We have gophers and possum. Not near as cute!

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    1. Not only do gophers lack the cute factor, they dig holes that can be dangerous for horses and dogs. At our cottage we had otter (very cute). We also had an otter-like mammal (the name escapes me). They were also cute, but we had to be cautious with the dogs because they were mean and aggressive.

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  4. Eating your perennials is crossing the line- no matter how cute (and the bunnies are adorable but sheesh!) I'm excited to read your next book; it sounds amazing!

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I don't mind losing a few perennials to a limited number of bunnies. I definitely do NOT want so many bunnies that there is no room to hop (um . . . walk).

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  5. We have bunnies, too, plus they're all over the trail where I walk. They are so fun to watch, but those numbers you quoted are staggering! I love that he ate your weeds but you had to pull them first--well, I don't love that you had to pull them, but that's a smart little rabbit!

    The book looks great, Kate!

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    1. Thanks, Liz. I sat on our patio and watch the little bunny (maybe six inches long ears to white tail, stretched out) polish off the weeds. He even checked to make sure he didn't leave any "crumbs" behind!

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  6. Love this, Kate! Can't wait to read the book! Hope your week is wonderful!

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    1. Thank you, Loree. I'm looking forward to reading September release, too.

      Have a great day!

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  7. We don't have bunnies or deer. However, I have one ten year old and a neighborhood full of kids who dig holes and leave odds and ends where I wish there were a garden LOL

    Awesome cover.

    Pamela
    <---who had rabbits as pets when she was younger

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    1. Hmmm...at least there's some restraint in population growth, with no risk of reaching 184 billion kids in seven years!

      I had a pet rabbit, too, when I was a child. He was lonely, so I talked my parents into getting me another one. The new addition orchestrated an escape from their pen, and they wreaked havoc in our home. I didn't know how destructive cute little bunnies can be. The bunnies went to a nice home on a farm, and I remained substantially bunny-less until now!

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  8. Rabbits are an introduced species and a huge pest here in Australia. Cute, but not when they’re running around in the thousands and taking over from the native animals! In some parts of Australia they’re actually illegal to have as pets (along with animals like chinchillas, which are illegal everywhere in the country).

    At the moment, here in the Canberra region, kangaroos have become HEAVILY overpopulated. On our short drive today – maybe five minutes – I saw half a dozen dead ones on the side of the road, and many hundreds of live ones in the fields. Around here the fields look like we’re farming kangaroos!

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    1. That's a different perspective, Sonya. Thank you for sharing. It reminds me of a story I heard about Barbados. If I remember correctly, they had a problem with rats so they introduced the mongoose. Rather than eradicating the rats (since one species is nocturnal and the other isn't), they eradicated snakes. It seems better to leave Mother Nature alone!

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  9. I'm having exciting times with a mother skunk and her cute little babies right now. They destroy my backyard to eat the grubs I cannot eliminate...and my cats (who go outside) are trying to fraternize with the family. So far, nobody's been sprayed, thank God. I've only had one cat ever sprayed in the past and it wasn't pretty...the smell transformed into a paroxide-like odour on the cat. Not typical skunk, but really really gross.

    Anyway, they can have the grubs and the nice yard as long as they don't spray my cats!

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    1. Better watch out - you might have cunks, or skats!

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    2. Thanks for the reminder, Victoria, that I would rather have bunnies rather than skunks. Two of our previous dogs got sprayed; I didn't even recognize it as a skunk smell at first. To me, it smelled like a petroleum product, but very stinky. The second time a dog got sprayed, I was ready to leave for a board meeting. I cleaned up the best I could, but the scent was in my nostrils. I avoided everyone, as I was certain I smelled like skunk!

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  10. It's so hard for me to think of rabbits as pests, but your research is alarming. The deer eat our rosebuds and apples as high as they can reach, but we don't mind. There are just a few moms and babies, one of which was born in our yard, so we feel possessive of her. Kate, I think there's a children's book in a bunny that eats only the weeds that are picked for him. Great post and wonderful photos!

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    1. Thanks, Muriel. I'll have to try to find that children's book and see if there are any training tips included! :-D

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    2. Good point...I may be an expert before I know it (out of necessity)!

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  11. Gosh, Kate, I was envying your beautiful yard and gardens until I got to the part of how many rabbits you could have in 7 years. And Victoria's skunks---when we lived in Washington state we had a pair and a raccoon family that gave us a tussle of wills. Here on the property I have an abundance of geckos and birds. On my walks I see a lot of wildlife, but I think our coyote population counter the bunny and quail proliferation. I like to think it's Mother Nature at work.
    Can't wait to read your book, Kate. You had me at search and rescue and dog!

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    1. I will take the challenges nature presents any day to enjoy the beauty and seclusion of where we live! As I noted above, I am thankful to Victoria reminding me that it could we worse...we could have that many skunks rather than bunnies. I also prefer bunnies over raccoons (can be mean) and porcupines (for the obvious reason)!

      I look forward to hearing what you think of the K-9 trilogy. It's book 2 that features, Nitro, the explosives detection dog!

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  12. Love your post, Kate, Great photos!

    Last year, my dad planted corn in his garden, but the racoons flattened all the stalks and feasted on the corn over two nights, so no corn this year. :(

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    1. Thanks, Dana. I didn't know raccoons like corn. I'm sorry your father lost his corn. Good thing I don't have any in our gardens!

      I planted a LOT of spring bulbs the first couple of years I lived in this house...until I discovered they were a squirrel and chipmunk delicacy!

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  13. Kate,

    I just absolutely LOVE your cover!! The ocean, the dog...screams 'please be a part of this'!

    ttq

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    1. Thank you, Tara. As always, I appreciate your feedback!

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  14. Love all these bunny photos, Kate! LMK if you get them trained to eat just weeds. ;) Congrats on the upcoming release!

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    1. Thanks, Cerella! If I do get them trained, I will start a business... environmentally-friendly week control!!

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  15. Help me, please, Kate. We had a few bunnies in the past but they seem to have disappeared. I need a bunny--though one would do! No more. Those figures you posted are alarming, indeed mind boggling. We had a resident groundhog too until recently but he seems to have moved on. A bobcat once strolled across our deck so he's here somewhere! And right now we have several deer who regularly "visit" at sundown, walking right up the road in front of our house and looking at us as if to say "What are you doing here?" LOVE your new cover! Congrats. Your book sounds really good.

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    1. How about I send you a couple of male bunnies, Leigh? Then you don't have to worry about the multiplier effect...unless, of course, a female bunny happens to take up residence at your place, too!

      At our cottage, we had a black bear visit every once in a while. He'd knock our planter off a tree stump we used as a stand close to our front entrance. He was looking for grubs in the old stump!

      Thank you for the comment on the cover!

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  16. I love your pictures. Thanks for sharing. Also love your October cover!

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    1. Thank you, Tara. Congratulations to you on your books (two, correct?) being selected as finalists for the 2015 ACRA awards!

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  17. Beautiful pictures!! Love the landscaping, and the cute bunnies. We've seen more than usual this year too. They like to run about in our yard, or just sit in the grass. My cat used to be interested in watching them, but now they no longer interest him.

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    1. Thank you, Laurie. The bunnies are very cute. I especially loved watching the smallest ones. They were no more than three to four inches long when I first spotted them.

      Do you think your cat could train our dogs to ignore the bunnies?!

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  18. Love the beautiful photos, and I'm glad to know someone who has a green thumb! Your gardens are awesome. The only animal stories I can think of right now are my drunk squirrel story and snake story. I think I'll tell you the squirrel story.

    I had my hummingbird feeder up and hadn't refilled it for over a week because I went out of town. One afternoon after returning, I saw a squirrel at the base of the tree where the feeder hung running in circles, then he ran up the tree, hung upside down and drank out of the feeder. The process repeated itself. Finally I realized the sweetened water had fermented. I had a drunk squirrel on my hands. Once I changed the feeder, the squirrel lost interest.

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    1. That is VERY funny, Patricia! Thank you for sharing the story of your drunk squirrel. To bad you didn't get any pictures . . . or did you? :-D

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    2. . . . I'd love to hear the snake story at some point, too!

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  19. I feel sorry for your bunny problem. Are there any other predators out there besides the coyotes? How will your winters affect them? Lovely pictures but I can see a barren landscape if they continue to survive.

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    1. Thanks, Marion. I expect our harsh winters have an impact on the population, too. Someone mentioned that they've seen the bunnies eat the evergreens above the accumulated snow. Considering we get quite a bit of snow, that causes me to worry about our ornamental evergreens!

      I don't think I've sent you a really great picture I took of you at the Harlequin ball at RWA. I'll have to remember to send it.

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