Cute Cottontail Story: Learn about the unlikely bond between a human and rabbit, formed through a mutual understanding of boundaries, trust and respect.
(Originally submitted to Raising-Rabbits.com by "Anomymous.")
Bunny Rabbit was the name that I gave to a cottontail rabbit that first appeared from under my deck. This is his cute cottontail story. He was about 6 weeks old, and at first I thought he was a pet that got loose. He timidly munched on some grass, always staying a foot or so off the deck where he would run if frightened. I just watched him from a distance in the yard. He would run under the deck then reappear for short periods of time.
Bunny Rabbit returned after about a week, and then every week or so thereafter. After some research I determined he was a newly weaned desert cottontail. I'd see him in the same place off and on for the next few months. I vowed not to approach him, startle him, or try to feed him. I wanted him to stay wild.
Bunny became less and less afraid, and would venture farther and farther onto the lawn, until a bird or noise would cause him to scamper back under the deck for protection. I began greeting him, again from a safe distance on the deck and he eventually stopped being afraid of me too.
As time went on, he would appear every 3-4 days or so, back to the same spot on the grass facing the deck. I would greet him as always and then go about my business, while he went about his day munching on grass. Bunny would appear more often in the early morning and dusk. At the time, we had a few barn owls that I feared would get him at dusk, so I would slowly work my way toward him on the lawn keeping an eye out. He became fine with that.
Eventually I could get about 2-3 feet from him. He became trusting enough to lie down on the grass with me nearby. I would pull up a chair and relax along with him. It was great stress therapy for me!
As he grew into an adult, these visits became more frequent. Bunny would often stay in the yard 4-5 days in a row. He would even visit for hours at a time, munching from morning until dusk and napping under a couple of bushes. I came to know which ones were his favorites, and soon, he didn't mind me seeing him crawl under them, sometimes walking right past me. This occurred for about 18 months.
Then a new friend appeared that was smaller than Bunny. She, Skeeter, turned out to be a female. Sometimes they would both appear and munch on grass at the same time. Bunny sometimes ignored her and sometimes join her for a meal. Three years later, I Skeeter her carrying leaves in her mouth one morning and I knew exactly what that meant. She went under one of Bunny's favorite napping shrubs and started to dig. I'm sure it was her nest, and she was nursing babies.
If Bunny wandered over to check it out, she would successfully chase him away. I did see at least one baby bunny a couple weeks later. He scurried under the same places Bunny would go; under the deck or through holes and under our fence. I never saw them again, and suspect a neighborhood cat may have gotten to them. The cat was very interested in them during this period.
I'm sure it's not common for someone to be lucky enough to have a wild cottontail for a companion. Over time, and due to three things, boundaries, respect, and trust, Bunny was not afraid of me in the least. The female, however, never got used to me and would scurry at first sight. I think my fortune with Bunny was due to the fact that we met when he was so young.
I'm not sure how the cute cottontail story ends, or even if it has ended. The other day I saw a road kill cottontail about a 1/2 mile from my house. It seemed like quite a distance for Bunny to go since he seemed to remain local to my neighborhood. But he could have been looking for females. Skeeter has stopped by the yard briefly so I know she is still in the area. Time will tell.
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