Friday, January 1, 2010

Fuzzy Creatures

I mentioned my desire to pet a jackrabbit in another post, and a few people didn't think that was a goal I could reach, but I have petted and held wild jackrabbits in the past. I thought that would make a good story. I have a funny feeling I've already posted this story, so forgive me if I am repeating myself.

I was driving home late one night, and upon turning onto my dirt road my headlights shined onto a jackrabbit that was being stalked by a cat. The cat was circling the rabbit as if ready to attack. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road and chased off the cat, however the rabbit didn't budge. I knew it had to be injured. I put some light on it and examined it for blood, figuring it had been hit by a car, but saw no injuries. I touched it, and it made a half-hearted hop to try to get away. I tried to encourage it to hop into the bushes where it would be out of the road and hidden from predators, but it didn't want to move anymore.

So, I got some gloves out of my car, picked the rabbit up and set it down on my passenger seat. I drove the rabbit home and it sat politely beside me. I set up a nest of warm towels in the garage, gave it a bowl of water, and let it spend the night. In the morning, I carried the rabbit out to some bushes on my front lot and set it free.

About an hour later I looked out my window and there was the rabbit sitting under my crab apple tree, watching me through the window. I went outside, told the rabbit it needed to stay hidden in cover or that cat will eat it, and I carried it back to the bushes. An hour later I looked out my window and there was that rabbit sitting under my crab apple tree again, watching me through the window.

I called the vet and told him what was going on. He said that the rabbit probably was very sick and I'd be doing it a favor to bring it in to him. So, I found a rabbit-sized box, carried it outside, and picked up the rabbit to put it in the box. Two of my neighbors were standing out by the mailboxes talking and I could hear them saying, "What is she doing?"

"She's trying to catch that wild jackrabbit!"

"She's crazy!"

At this point they were yelling at me, "DON'T TOUCH THAT RABBIT! YOU'LL GET RABIES!"

I ignored them as I had been carrying this rabbit around over the past few hours and I knew it wouldn't hurt me. I put it in the box, carried it to the car, and drove to the vet. Sadly, the bunny had pneumonia and could not be saved. The vet euthanized it to put it out of its misery.

Some woman at the vet's office freaked out that I touched a wild rabbit and told me to go get some rabies shots. My husband spoke with a coworker who is an expert on rabbits and she laughed. She said that rabbits don't carry rabies. Since then I've done more reading up on this subject and found a lot of conflicting information. Apparently, rabbits can get rabies if they are bitten by another animal that has rabies, but a rabbit would die quickly from the disease. If you are bit by a rabbit, you may need a tetanus shot, but the chance of getting rabies from a rabbit is slim. That rabbit never bit me or scratched me. It was too weak to put up any kind of a fight.

My other experience with petting wild jackrabbits was a couple of years ago when my husband accidentally stumbled upon a nest of babies in our manure pile. We were relocating the manure, using it to fertilize our pasture and lawn in the spring. We dug out all the manure, but left the nest so that the babies could stay warm, grow and survive.

I liked to uncover their nest every few days to see how much they've grown. They grew fast. One day I checked up on them and the bunny on the top of the pile hopped out and started to run away. I caught it, put it back into the nest, and covered it up again. One day all the bunnies left the nest and a few weeks later I saw them nearly full-sized dining on the grass under my apple trees. They visited me all summer and fall eating fallen apples and grass, then winter came and all I saw of them were their little bunny footprints in the snow. The next spring there were less of them, as some had been hit by cars while others became coyote meat.

Right now our latest visitors have been some really big bunnies: A doe and her two fawn. There's so much snow in the mountains that they can't reach the vegetation, so they come down into the valley to scrounge around for something to eat. When we let the dogs out at night and in the morning, Midge spots them, barks at them, and chases them off. Midge doesn't know the word "deer", so we call them "really big bunnies."


fernvalley01 said...

OK, I concede, my friend you are a bunny whisperer! So kind of you to take the time for the sick rabbit. As you know you would have to be bitten by a rabid animal to be at risk of rabies.Ticks? maybe but rabies no. Sometimes the ignorance of others is what prevents them from doing the simplest of kindnesses.

Shirley said...

Great story! Hey, tell us about that last photo!

Katharine Swan said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought rabies was spread via bodily fluid, i.e., you'd most likely have to get bit by a rabid animal to get it. I don't think it's like fleas or mites, that can hop from person to person. ;o)

Anyway, my parents once tried to save a baby bunny that had gotten attacked by a cat in their backyard. Unfortunately bunnies are delicate creatures and can die from too much stress. My dad took the bunny to a wildlife rescue (it had a broken leg) but just like your jackrabbit, it didn't make it.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

You have a really big heart, NM. :)


Leah Fry said...

Too bad the bunny couldn't be saved, but God bless you for trying.

That baby deer is teeny!

Breathe said...

People have an over the top fear of all wildlife these days. Certainly it's not all ribbons in your hair and skipping through the woods, but it's not cujo either. I guess that's what happens when the majority of people grow up with asphalt under their feet instead of grassy fields.

But it is so cool that you held a jack rabbit! A rare thing to be sure!

We had a cardinal conk himself against our window and got to hold him for a bit to make sure he didn't become cat food. THen there was the time an injured fawn ran into my husband's arms.

He's that kind of guy, frankly.

Rising Rainbow said...

Sorry to hear the bunny didn't make it. I'm always rooting against the odds.

Has it been a couple of years since the bunnies were discovered in the manure pile? Geez! where does the time go?

Hope you have a happy and prosperous New Year!!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Shirley - Those are all just photos I copied off Google images. I'm guessing the baby fawn was probably delivered prematurely through an emergency C-section. I've heard stories about pregnant does being hit by cars and people trying to save the babies after the doe dies. It does look a little too small to be a full-term delivery, but I may be wrong -- I'm not an expert on deer.

jane augenstein said...

How kind you are to help that rabbit and to get to hold it too! Sorry the poor little guy didn't make it.
I have gotten to hold a humming bird and a small hawk in my hands and I feel very honored to do so. Both birds, at different times and places, ran into glass windows and knocked themselves silly. The humming bird, oh, what a tiny jewel, finally was in good enough shape to fly away but I got to study the delicate little creature! :-)
The hawk, after I picked it up it gripped my finger, then sat and looked my right in the eye, bobbed it's head then flew away! Beautiful bird!
Happy New Year!!!

thecrazysheeplady said...

Great story. Well, not the sad end, but you know what I mean.