Little Jack

Yesterday was a “watershed” day. Today confirmed it.

Long time participants here will remember the story of the passing of “Pirate Jack”. My bunny.

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/jack-the-pirate-passes/

The Good

Well, a couple of generations on, and “Little Jack”, his grandson, is a 2nd generation “free range bunny”. Not only was he “born wild”, but so were his parents.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve slowly “earned his trust”. First with not running away to hide. Then the acceptance of food added to the dish while he was “in grabbing distance”. Eventually even to him coming over to “sniff me” and see what was this giant thing that wasn’t so bad?

Over the last 6 months, we’ve progressed from taking the occasional leaf offering, at a distance, and after I’ve moved back; to taking it from my hand; to coming out to see me and looking, in a suggestive sort of way, at the particular type of leave that might be most of interest…

The bad

Free Range Bunnies are prone to fleas. They get them from the squirrels that visit the garden. I’d complain, but the squirrels are mostly entertaining. (Other than the fact that I can’t grow any corn to seed as long as they are arround to raid it just before it’s ready…)

So “Little Jack” (also a black and white, and small and agile. Though with good teeth…) manged to pick up some fleas. Bunnies seem to know that Mums have pyrethrins and cure fleas. Sadly, my mums have not grown fast enough to provide a full cure. Only occasional relief. (I’ve added 3 more and I’m working on some “edible chrysanthemums” from Kitazawa seedsman).

Bunnies are pretty good about keeping fleas down by grooming. Including a “mutual grooming” behaviour where two bunnies sit head to tail and lick the spot down the back where it’s impossible for a bunny to reach on his own. This is fine when you have a bunch of bunnies, but at this time I only have 2. At that number, it’s common for someone to not get as much grooming as needed. So a patch of “tangle and red” can form between the shoulder blades if there is not enough grooming to keep the fleas from having a lunch counter… Little Jack had started to get such a patch. I’d plucked as many leaves from the Mums as I could, without setting them back too much, and the “red” went away. But it was still tangled and dirty. And most likely some eggs of fleas still survived the pyrethrins.

Well, yesterday, I “took the plunge”.

While Little Jack was munching on a large fresh cabbage leaf, I took my comb from my pocket and gently combed his back. At first, I took a single finger and scratched just a bit between the shoulders. He “froze” for a second, then accepted that this was “a good thing”. As I applied the comb he “froze” again. This time it took a couple of strokes to decide “Hey, I LIKE this”…

Today was a repeat with the comb, but without the hesitation.

I have been accepted as a Giant Bunny with strange ears and funny teeth as far as grooming is concerned.

His spouse, Ginger Too, has not yet let me touch her. Then again, Little Jack gives her a very complete grooming so she has not manifested a flea “issue”. We are up to the “leaf from the hand” and approaching “That leaf, there, please”. I figure in a month or two I’ll be able to comb her too.

I don’t know how to properly say what this means to me. To be accepted as “friend” and “A Good Guy” by a semi-wild bunny is a very big deal. Bunnies are very perceptive, very skeptical, highly social, and generally picky about who they call “friend”. Especially the giant things that smell funny and don’t have proper ears…

It means more to me than acceptance by any person.

There is no higher honor than to move from “Servant to Bunnies” to “My Friend (with strange ears and predator eyes on the front of his funny face, but he’s OK…)”.

The Ugly – Sidebar On ‘Possums

I had lost 3 bunnies to some unknown predator. Despite a lot of attempts to figure out what it was, I’d find a bunny just “gone” and the others very spooked. (That I’ve managed to friend a bunny in that context is especially gratifying). Far too late, I set out a “live trap” with cat food in it. (I’d figured a cat…)

What I caught was a Very Large ‘Possum. I hauled it away to a “good home” elsewhere. Over the course of the next few days, the bunnies calmed down. I’d left the yard light on all night for a week or so before catching Mr. ‘Possum, and that was a bit of a help. But after the removal of Sir Teeth, everyone is much more calm. I’m pretty sure he was the culprit. A web search showed that ‘Possums are known to be predators of ground birds. I suspect that the rule of the Aquarium applies. Big things eat little things.

At any rate, I’d noticed a bit of a “suspicious” look when I set out the live trap and spread cat food around. Little Jack was wondering why I liked cat food… Then, on the day of the “catch”, the bunnies stayed a bit hidden. They knew Mr. ‘Possum was in the cage, but didn’t know if he could get out. Later that day, I collected the trap and carried him off.

The next day, I reset it. Under the watchful eye of Little Jack.

I think that was the watershed moment.

He saw me set the trap. Saw the Evil Monster in it, and unable to escape. Saw me “cart away the Evil Monster”. Saw the Magic Protector Cage That Smells Of Catfood return. And looked at me with that “well, maybe I need to think about you a bit differently” look…

At any rate, it was shortly after that when both bunnies calmed down, and both decided they no longer needed to run away at any noise, even my approach. Now, a couple of weeks later, “life is good”.

In Conclusion

I suspect that domestication of animals started this way. Some guy who made a friend. Some mutual benefit recognized. A wolf that found warmth and the odd scrap of bones by a fire. A sheep that found a pasture where the Other Wolves were kept out, and this one strange wolf was not interested in attack when the Tall Strange Guy was around. A bird that found nesting over the Tall Strange Guy gave fewer predators and more young raised to maturity.

At least, that’s my fantasy when I sit in my easy chair on the patio.

Doves nesting 1.5 Meters over my head.

Bunnies looking at a bean leaf, then at me. Well? In their eyes…

A cat looking at the bunnies, then at me, then wandering off to the food dish. (I’ve had a bunny go ‘nose to nose’ with the cat. Very Interesting dynamic…)

And even a humming bird hanging 1 foot in front of my face, looking at me, then at the sage in flower.

Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s how “domestication” began. Some guy just being friends with the critters who were not going to eat him. What I’m less sure about is who domesticated whom…

E.M.Smith
“Servant To Bunnies”
“Gardener To Hummers”
“Groomer of Cats”
“Guardian of the Dove Nest”

Such are the roots of civilization…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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31 Responses to Little Jack

  1. David says:

    We have lots of bunnies, they usually scatter when I go out back in the am. This year they are less skitish, letting me get much closer then before. We have a little 12 pound dog, a poodle laso apso mix, named Loreli. (Named after Marilyn Monroe in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”) There is just a little wolf left in her, so she likes to stalk, moving very slow, often not at all for 30 seconds or so. Well she never catches the bunnies, but once she was stalking a very tiny one, probably the first time ever out of its bourgh. As she got close, she charged, the baby bunnie never moved. My moment of concern turned to sweet amusment as Loreli stopped, and then began to lick and snuggle to the little bunnie.

  2. Norman says:

    Nice read, rabbits are fascinating creatures, we have a couple of house/garden bunnies who seem to accept us in a similar way, ie. nagging for unreachable leaves etc.

    Their interaction with local cats is interesting, they seem to keep them out of our garden, I suspect that this may be due to a behaviour I saw in a rabbit years ago, cats would come into the garden and stretch out on the path in the sun doing their arrogant ‘I’m a cat, this place is warm so ‘sod off’ human’ act. The larger of my rabbits would hop around the garden gradually closing in on the cat, which didn’t pay it any attention, then it would suddenly run over the cat and do the ‘double warning stamp’ with it’s back legs on it and then go and sit under a bush staring at the cat.

    When the cat recovered it’s breath it looked thoroughly discomfitted, after all it had just been mugged by a bloody herbivore, and left the garden with what little dignity it had left.

  3. Brings a tear to the eye. What wonderful contrast to the mayhem, murder and lies!

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    @David:

    There are these sporadic stories of inter-species friendship and of one species parenting infants of another. To hear of a grown dog recognizing the “little one” nature first and the “snack” possiblities less so, well, it tends to confirm the thesis…

    @Ken McMurtrie & R. de Haan:

    That’s why I spend so much time in my garden. It’s a little patch of “sanity” in a world full of “lesser souls”. So when reading about Soros, or seeing Merkel and Urkle in the news, or wonding if we will EVER be done killing people in the Middle East (and if they will ever realize that trying to kill US is not a good idea)… When all that starts to chaff a bit….

    I take a “bunny and beans break”. I’ll walk to the garden and go to the Runner Beans. A gentle snapping of a couple of leaf stems will bring a small face with large ears out “to see” … Then I’ll hand down that leaves… Bunnies just LOVE bean leaves.

    (Oddly, I gave a couple of the leaves of the small Fava Bean – the one from the Middle Eastern store near me have grown nicely – but the bunnies didn’t want them. Don’t know if it was just an “unfamilar” thing, or something more complex. I suspect that since the domestic bunny originated from Iberia and the fava was from near there, it may simply be that fava beans that tasted good to bunnies didn’t make it ;-)

    So while the world is slowly demonstrating once again the capacity for human insanity and cruelty and…. I’ll be taking just a moment to taste a fava leaf today, and ask a bunny his opinion on the issue of “Cabbage or Kale?” (So far it’s a bit of a toss up… but radish leaves are appreciated as a bit-o-spice seasoning…. Mustard leaves are a bit too hot, though. A couple of sweet lettuce, cabbabe, and a radish leaf topper, with bean leaf dessert, seems the favorite mix…

    Then I retire to me “easy chair” as the bunnies find “scrapes” of cleared dirt to lay in, and take a bit of sun if it’s about, as we are in eye contact with each other and mutually “watch for warnings”… and digest …. Puts it all in perspective…

    About a month back (prior to the ‘possum issue), one bunny paid me a very high compliment.. He fell asleep while we were on “mutual guard duty”. Just rolled over on his side, streached out a bit, and took a nap. They only do that when they figure “it’s safe, the other bunny is on duty”… and I was “the other bunny”.

    It’s those moments I cherish most.

    It may not be as extreme as Jane Goodall being accepted into a primate tribe, but it feels as good ;-)

    @All:

    For anyone wanting to try food chrysanthemums:

    http://www.kitazawaseed.com/seeds_chrysanthemum_greens.html

    In Japan there are several types that are eaten, including putting the flowers as ‘edible decoration’ on meals. The Japanese throne is the “Chrysanthemum Throne” and the flower as a motif figures in much of the artwork:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysanthemum_Throne

    I don’t know if they have enough pyrethrins still in them to be a bug treatment. I suspect it is reduced as most “domesticated” plants get the flavors muted over time by selection for less strongly flavored plants. We’ll see if I can grow these from seed or not. Then if they are of interest to bunnies… and me.

  5. PhilJourdan says:

    Rabies are a problem around here, so while I enjoy the wildlife, I do not try to get too close. Still, we managed to get a mating pair of coons under our shed one year. They avoided us and we avoided them. But after dark, they would come up on the deck and finish off the cat food. The cats just thought they were cousins.

    They had a kit. Now the kit grew up around us (in our dance of not being close), so she had no fear of us at all. Once the parents moved on, she stayed for several years, eating cat food, and always coming to our door to ask for more (I named her Olivia).

    We have occassional possums as well. They are not smart, and I doubt you could befriend them the way of Rabbits, coons and even squirrels. But they have their uses (you told me about the snails). So we let them be. The Cats are fixed (so no kittens), Coons take care of their own, and squirrels keep their young in the trees.

  6. R. de Haan says:

    No explaining needed E.W, I get you 100%.

  7. PhilJourdan says:

    @Norman – LOL! Thanks for a great tale! My co-workers are wondering why I am chortling in my ofice!

  8. Tom Bakewell says:

    To your list of accomplishments you might add “Purveyor of Brain Food”

  9. dearieme says:

    I wonder whether a woman who has just lost a baby would also be a good candidate for a domesticator of animals?

  10. Dennis says:

    Funny. We went through a period in my unit of the Forest Service when everyone was to wear hardhats painted that flourescent pink you see on emergency workers, I remember that while we were moving through the woods cruising timber with those brightly colored hats on, we would each be towing a little squadron of hummingbirds tapping on our hardhats, like remora on a shark. As you would leave one HB territory and enter another, one contingent would leave to be replaced in due time by another. Only the flourescent (and later) red hats had the effect.

  11. George says:

    I don’t live so far from you, maybe 15 miles. The worst predators of bunnies (and birds) around here are hawks. I have a small dog that often goes out into the back yard. When she was very little, she often attracted the attention of a local red-tailed hawk. The hawk often sits on the phone pole in the back yard and I have seen it suddenly swoop at great speed into the neighbor’s magnolia tree after birds. In nesting season, mocking birds will often gang up up on the hawk (and the crows looking to raid the nest for eggs) and drive it away. But Mr. Hawk is never far away and is often seen scouring the neighborhood searching for bunnies or sitting on the telephone pole watching.

    Years ago along Tasman Ave in San Jose there was a vacant lot between Cypress Semiconductor and a Cisco Systems building. I was doing some work for Cypress and there was a hawk that would perch on a window sill on the second floor some mornings at about 10am and watch the lot for bunnies. He would swoop down, grab a bunny and have his fill for a day or two.

    There are also several hawks that scour the open fields around the 280 freeway in Palo Alto. Find a way to attract mocking birds and bluejays to make nests near you. They are great at driving away the predators or at least warning the entire neighborhood when one is near.

  12. Kent Gatewood says:

    E.M., you had a post at WATTS… on “The Long View of Feeding the Planet,” Eschenbach thread. Would you consider re-posting here.

    I don’t think the category list does justice to wonderful variety of topics you cover so well.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @PhilJourdan:

    I think I’ve told my ‘Coon story before, but perhaps it stands retelling…

    First, though, on ‘Possums. I’ve dealt with them for many years. We had one litter born in the garage and, at about 8 years old, the son learned the art of picking up a ‘Possum by the tail to deposit it outside. The “little ones” had reached the “explore and expand range” stage (about 1 /2 L body volume) and were doing things like climbing on the shelves of stored tools and, in one case, the spouse came to see a little ‘Possum face looking at here from the neckline of one of my shirts… (The hang, fresh from the dryer, facing the back door and washer… and one of the little guys had found a way up the inside of the shirt)….

    So we had a ‘Possum Hunt and moved about 7 or 8 of them outside. (We would stand very still and wait for any faint sound to tip off where they were – thus the son with good hearing was a critical player…) The first one startled him as the tail began to “counter grab” his fingers. But once you get used to it, it’s not co creepy ;-) If they start to bring the ‘biting end’ up toward the hand on the tail, a small ‘wiggle and jerk’ causes them to straighten out again.

    When the babies are “large enough”, Mom wanders off and leaves them to the selected turf. Typically, many of them will wander off too. That’s part of why we have ‘Possums everywhere in North America. One introduction, then wait…

    But they are not all that smart. I had the same impression of Kangaroos in Australia. There is a “vacant” nature to the eyes. Not like a lizard or snake, but not like a full mammal either. Just sort of a “1/2 there” vacant look. It’s like the emotionall connection part is gone.

    ‘Possums will snarl and act fierce, showing rows of sharp dog like teeth with drooling snarling lips. They will “play dead’ and do nothing, even when their tail is pulled. They will “freeze” and look blank. That seems to be the range they have. And never an evaluation of “who are you?”. Just “Is it a threat or unkown? Pick one: Run, Snarl, Freeze, Play Dead”.

    IMHO, they are too dumb to domesticate. I can catch them regularly in the live trap. But set the trap for a smaller brained rat? No joy… They are too smart…

    The Raccoon Story, short form:

    Once upon a time I lived in a studio apartment under a house in Bolinas. (Near Stinson Beach). One house back from the beach (behind the “Grace Slick” house that had a Jefferson Airplane tile motif on the pool bottom). I liked to leave the sliding glass doors open so I could listen to the ocean as I went to bed. As there were few bugs to worry about, being onshore breezes, I’d leave the screen open too. I had been told that the local raccoons liked to finish off the cat food some of the neighbors left out, but not to worry about rattly noises in the night.

    So one night, I’m in bed under the quilt and I feel the cat doing that “circle and settle” that they do and making a nice cat-circle snuggle in the gap between my knees. Circle circle, settle, snuggle… As I was raised with a dog and cat that both liked to do this, it was a very familiar thing… Not an issue at all for the sleepy subconcious…. but…

    Somewhere in the dim reaches, the higher brain centers got a message “Wake up a bit… we’ve had the cat settle in, and everything is fine…. but we need a bit of guidance as Memory is reporting that you left the cat years ago… So could you check on the cat please?”

    I, 1/2 awake, groggy started to think this through. WHY was I being awakened just to think about the Damn Cat. He ALWAYS did that when I lived at home… when I [past tense] lived at home… and had a cat… that I don’t anymore…

    At that moment I “woke up”. I sat up (keeping my legs still). The raccoon sat up, looking half asleep. I said something brilliant like “Ahhhh!” as my eyes got large. He said something brilliant like “Hcchh” as his eyes got very wide. I froze. He froze. We startd at each other for a moment,. He rapidly headed for the door.

    Despite leaving the door open many more nights, the Raccoon never came back inside.

    To this day I wonder what would have happened if I’d just slept through the night. Might we have ended up “friends”? Could I have had a “Bed and Breakfast” for the local Racoons?

    Had I been more awake, I’d likely not have sat up, but just savored the moment for a while and lain awake most of the night watching what happened. As it was, instinct still had some sway and I vocalized too much.

    Raccoons are very smart, but also very sensitive creatures. Once rejected, they don’t give you a second chance.

  14. George says:

    Beats squirrels. Don’t ever get squirrels inside your house. They are too clever for their own good.

  15. PhilJourdan says:

    Raccoons are very smart, but also very sensitive creatures. Once rejected, they don’t give you a second chance.

    Ok, second Coon story and then I stop.

    I once lived across the street from a fine old house that had a HUGE oak in the middle of the front yard. It was so large, the driveway was around the oak. The old lady who lived there had died several years earlier and other than a son (I assume) who came occassionally to keep the place up, it was not occupied.

    But the tree was. Apparently a Momma Racoon had had her litter up in the tree, and was content. There was enough trash and wildlife around that she did not want for food, and a stream nearby to wash it. Then one day, the daughter (I think) moved in with some small children (youngest about 6 months). I knew how nesting coons could be, so I was going to go over and warn her about the family of coons the next day.

    Never had to bother! As I sat on my front porch that night and watched, the Momma Coon carried each one of her litter down the tree (making sure no one was looking – I was about 50 yards away), and then spirited them off to the woods edge and beyond (she was gone about 15 minutes with each). it took her about 3 hours due to the daughter coming out of the house occassionally (dragging in boxes or throwing them out). But after that, I never saw the mother or her kits again! They are smart!

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    @R. de Haan:

    OK, so now you have me wondering if it was a very sly joke or a typo ;-)

    @Tom Bakewell:

    Oooh! I like it!

    @Dearime:

    I think it depends entirely on the person. If you have kindness and love in your heart, empathy for a fellow traveler on the planet, then it just happens. Women probably have that a bit more than men, and women with children (lost or not) even more so. I suspect that the frequent examples of mother cats nursing puppies, or mother dogs nursing kittens or mother pigs nursing … basically the “species mix and match” that frequently make the “Awww Story” news, probably had a human analog. The Mighty Hunter kills the caribou and there is a calf nearby. So Mom puts it in a pen and feeds it fine grasses while keeping the wolves away… Eventually you get a raindeer herd and folks farming instead of hunting.

    You still see folks doing this today with all the “rescue societies” and feeding baby animals from bottles (or bags with a nipple corner). I don’t think we just suddenly changed to start doing that. “Caring for others” is built into us. (Well, most of us… some of us?…)

    @Dennis:

    I have some red flowered Runner Beans and some white and purple flowered beans. Only the Red Ones get the hummers defending them as “their turf” and regularly servicing the flowers.

    I’ve got a blue flowered sage that I’m starting. It will take a couple of years, but I hope to have it a few yards from the red flowered sage. As the hummers just LOVE the red sage, it will be an interesting experiment to see how they choose between the two.

    Yes, a very geeky thing to do. “It’s just what I do”… I know that eventually I’ll face the spousal question of “Why do you have TWO sage bushes when we can’t even use 1/100 the sage from one of them?”… and I know the look I’ll get when I share the reason… But I just have to know…. The question, once formed, will never leave. Either I scratch that itch or spend eternity with it on the “loose ends” list…

    FWIW, I think the hummers like to hang near my face as they are checking out what is left of the red in my moustache. If I have side lighting on it, the red highlghts still show up a bit. But (thankfully) they seem to decide it’s not a real red, and more of a ‘gray orange’, and don’t come to peck… But I get a great view of the hummers ;-)

    @George:

    I have had a hawk come sit on the fence (even walking along it a few years back, checking under the eaves for doves). That’s why I have a lot of “overhead clutter” in the yard. It’s is laid out such that a hawk can not “dive” on the bunnies. They have to check it out first.

    So, for a couple of years, the hawk would come and stop on the power pole, or the back fence, and look for a “gap” that was flyable. And all the bunnies head underground.

    After a couple of years of failure, they gave up and have not been seen since.

    I have seen a mob of ravens hanging out in nearby trees that took after one, and there are some other mid sized birds that “worried” one in flight a few years back.

    At first I’d thought it might have been a bird, but the “losses” were always in the middle of the night and the behaviour change “Post ‘Possum” confirms the catch. So I’m pretty sure the “lots of pokey stuff overhead” is keeping the hawks out. (I put bamboo poles with the pokey ends of stems still attached, into squares with beans. The beans climb the bamboo and any bird is faced with a very sharp forrest of hard bamboo to dive through. Then, at the bottom, the valleys between the squares are very narrow. Too narrow for a full wingspread. And often with plants making a bit of a canopy over them. Above all of that (and where the bunnies hang out most) there is a fruitless pear that’s left very dense in the canopy and with ‘snags’. Perfect for small birds, hostlie to large ones. I’ve had at least 3 different species of small birds nesting in it, including hummers and something that makes a “knitted pouch” nest.

    The bunnies can run most of the garden while always being under cover of some level, or just a couple of feet from it and with the “approach” at a bad angle for flight.

    The things I think about while watching the garden… (And yes, part of why it “looks so messy”… because the bunnies LIKE the overhead “clutter”…)

    @Kent Gatewood:

    I presume you mean this one:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/09/41401/#comment-677366

    I may duplicate it, but the link gets you to it too…

  17. R. de Haan says:

    E.M.Smith
    @R. de Haan:

    “OK, so now you have me wondering if it was a very sly joke or a typo ;-)No explaining needed E.W, I get you 100%.”

    No sly joke and no typo E.W, on the contrary, just a sign of recognition.
    It’s more like looking into a mirror.

  18. PaulID says:

    There was a Russian experiment with foxes that is still going on I learned about in a documentary on dogs on netflix if I can find the name I will let you know but it had some great info on how they think dogs got domesticated.

  19. R. Shearer says:

    My bunnies are of the wild kind. I swear they like to be chased. I’ve live caught three but every now and then I think about grillin one. I caught a little one under my deck. I traumitized him so much I thought he would die of shock but I released him across the road about a quarter mile away. Three weeks later he shows up again. I’m fencing them out now to the best of my ability and it seems to be working.

    I did learn that dried blood and pepper are not effective deterents.

  20. George says:

    Owls, too. We actually have owls around here. I have seen a couple and almost hit one with the car a few years back on Prospect Avenue. Don’t know where they would be spending their daytimes in such a residential area but they are around.

    Interesting that possums would go after bunnies there, though. Around here they are trash pickers or go after flat squirrels on the streets, generally preferring the food they don’t have to chase.

    The possums travel through the neighborhood on the cable TV lines here. Those cables are low and fat and if I am really quiet out on the deck at night I can sometimes see one (and rats, too, scurrying between the yards with lots of ivy on the fences) walking down the wires.

    It really is amazing how much wildlife there is moving around at night in some of these residential neighborhoods.

  21. dearieme says:

    Our main pest is pheasants.

  22. H.R. says:

    Our Manx cat caught a baby bunny once, brought it in to our kitchen and dropped it, completely unharmed. It was a a present for our two Scotties; something for them to play with.

    My wife heard a lot of scrambling going on in the kitchen and went in to see what the Scotties were up to. They were just nudging it with their noses and it was hopping around but not really trying to run away and hide. My wife had no clue how the cat managed to sneak a bunny in the house under her nose. Anyhow, she took the bunny outside and returned it to the fence row/ It was not particularly terrified and was none the worse for wear.

    That one was puzzling because our Scotties had long before proven that they were true to the breed. They were stone cold killers and no mole, vole, mouse, or chipmunk survived long on our property (we have deer that cut through our property every night and morning – as many as 30 in a group – and the cat and both dogs were determined to bring one of those BIG MICE down).

    All we could ever figure was that the cat brought the bunny in for a play date.

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    @H.R.:

    I think there is a distinctive “smell” to infants and many animals respect it, especially if well fed and domesticated.

    @R. Shearer:

    Bunnies are generally just careful to avoid any particular spot that smells wrong. For “general deterence” it’s much harder. The do not like the sound of velcro At All. Once could make a tape of velco being pulled open and play it every half hour or so …

    Bunnies do NOT like parsnip leaves. I’d plant a “row” of parsnips around the border / fence and they would likely decide not to proceed through it. Be Advised: Some people get a “poison oak” like reaction to parsnip leaves. I’ve not had it, but some folks do.

    @Dearime:

    That’s not a pest, that’s an entre…

    @R. de Haan:

    So, you visiting Latin America or what? (Why else would the M in E.M. be upside down as E.W. …)

  24. R. de Haan says:

    @R. de Haan:

    “So, you visiting Latin America or what? (Why else would the M in E.M. be upside down as E.W. …)”

    Those damned glasses again, sorry.

  25. gallopingcamel says:

    Wow! What a wonderful story. It reminded me of a speculation about humankind and dogs.

    My understanding is that Homo Sapiens is all that remains of over twenty related species so far identified by science. Every one of them (Neanderthals, Cro Magnon et. al.) are extinct, with the implication that ours is not a particularly successful branch in the evolutionary tree.

    Did the human race survive the last Ice Age owing to its relationship with dogs who gave us an edge in hunting?

    http://www.sekj.org/PDF/anzf41/anzf41-545.pdf

  26. gallopingcamel says:

    If you want to discourage rabbits from feasting on your veggies, may I suggest a light sprinkling of freeze dried haemoglobin powder around the perimeter.

  27. Espen says:

    R. de Haan: Here I was enjoying this sweet story from E.M. and then you really bring the madness in. But thank you anyway, I’ve read the interview in German now, and glanced through the executive summary of the report from the Potsdam lunatics, and wow! Really scary!

  28. dougie says:

    Hi E.M

    good to hear about little Jack, as i remember “Pirate Jack” post with fondness.

    my wild bunny (donno how they got into my garden in the first place) eventually escaped back to the wild, i hope (town garden in the UK).

    anyway thanks for the update, or as Jack might have uttered “eep urrp nurf nurf ruupt”

  29. E.M.Smith says:

    @Dougie:

    Little Jack has now let me pick him up, comb, and even spray for fleas (with a very bunny friendly spray). He seems to like being “gussied up” ;-)

    With any luck, Ginger Too will feel left out and want some “parlor time” too ;-)

  30. PhilJourdan says:

    @EM

    I think there is a distinctive “smell” to infants and many animals respect it, especially if well fed and domesticated.

    That would explain our cats. They have killed (and eaten) lots of voles, several squirrels, and some birds. but on 2 occassions, a baby squirrel fell out of its nest (one was still bald!). The cats just sat and watched it, and when we came out to see what was going on, did not run or try to interfere with us in picking them up (and taking them to a wild animal vet).

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