A good rab­bit about bun­nies

Middleton Guardian - - WILDLIFE -

I LIVE in the coun­try­side and hol­i­day in the coun­try­side, so I am never short of see­ing a rab­bit or two.

At the mo­ment there are cute bun­nies run­ning around all over the place and tiny kits are keep­ing grass lev­els down in all ar­eas of the re­gion.

We see them on the moor­lands, on low­land mosses, in wood­land, meadows and even on the sand dunes of Mersey­side and Lan­cashire.

Rab­bits look quite serene but get too close and they will shoot off into nearby bur­rows. They will prob­a­bly hear you first with those long ears and then see you with eyes that help them see nearly 360 de­grees – there is a small blind spot at the front of their nose.

A grey-brown colour with a fluffy white tail, rab­bits are smaller than hares and do not have black tips on their ears.

The bur­rows are dug out of the earth with their strong nails and their teeth. How­ever I heard re­cently of a case in Wi­gan where huge boul­ders from the iron smelt­ing in­dus­try were dumped on a hill. The lo­cal rab­bits nested in holes in the cylin­dri­cal rocks.

Male rab­bits are bucks and fe­males are does. Over the past cou­ple of years their offspring have been called kit­tens or kits. Ap­par­ently rab­bits used to be called coneys and ba­bies were called rab­bits un­til they were a year old.

Rab­bits live in large groups in ex­ten­sive un­der­ground bur­row sys­tems known as war­rens.

They are at their most ac­tive at sun­rise and sun­set and spend more than eight hours a night sleep­ing. They sleep with their eyes open so they can be ready for ac­tion in case of dan­ger.

Rab­bits eat grass and leafy weeds, both hard to digest. This means they eat, poop and then eat it again. The soft pel­lets still con­tain lots of nu­tri­ents. I apol­o­gise if you are eat­ing your din­ner. The hard pel­lets you will see on fields and foot­paths are the sec­ond batch.

In the UK rab­bit num­bers are quite high be­cause of the dis­tinct lack of preda­tors – foxes, bad­gers and some birds of prey will take them.

If a rab­bit is fac­ing a po­ten­tial threat it will thump the ground with its hind legs to warn other bun­nies in the vicin­ity. Rab­bits shouldn’t ex­pect to live for more than a cou­ple of years, but the old­est on record was 18 in Tas­ma­nia.

And it’s not just be­ing hunted that kills our rab­bits, they have suf­fered hor­rific dis­eases over the years, par­tic­u­larly myx­o­mato­sis, which is still around but does not dev­as­tate the pop­u­la­tion as it did in the past.

Okay, so rab­bits can be a prob­lem in large num­bers, par­tic­u­larly to our farm­ers, but we still love them, don’t we?

How many rab­bit vil­lains can you re­mem­ber in lit­er­a­ture? Bugs Bunny, Bre’r Rab­bit or Har­vey were all good­ies and the Easter Bunny ar­rives with Easter eggs.

Maybe we should ap­pre­ci­ate our bun­nies a bit more, they don’t have an easy life and they are ir­re­sistibly cute.

The Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manchester and North Mersey­side is ded­i­cated to the pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of the wildlife in Lan­cashire, seven bor­oughs of Greater Manchester and four of Mersey­side, all ly­ing north of the River Mersey. It man­ages around 40 na­ture re­serves and 20 lo­cal na­ture re­serves cov­er­ing acres of wood­land, wet­land, up­land and meadow. The trust has 27,000 mem­bers, and over 1,200 vol­un­teers. To be­come a mem­ber of the trust, go to the web­site at www. lanc­swt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust, call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlifetrust. org.uk.

A kit

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.