Saturday, June 18, 2016

Habituated

When I first moved into my current home, I visited with a local lady whose barn was carpeted with wild rabbits.  I remember feeling stunned over how comfortable those rabbits felt around humans and horses.  When we walked, the rabbits parted a path for us.  I've never had that many desert cottontails in my barn, but I've had more this year than ever.  I find that if I don't pay attention to them, they get used to my presence and eventually stop running away.

There is one bunny I've mentioned before that I've been calling "Baby Bunny", but it may actually be a runt because it hasn't been growing much.  The other rabbits chase it away from whatever hay and grain falls out of the horses' mouths, so it started paying attention to me and making connections.  It figured out that when I am carrying a yellow bucket, I am carrying pellets.  It also figured out that I was getting those pellets from the tack room.  It started coming out from under the hay barn as soon as it heard me.  Then it began following me around, observing my routine.

One day I left the tack room door open, and when I returned, I found Baby Bunny inside chowing down on Safe Choice Senior spillage.  I shut the door and sat on the floor, and it tried to hide from me.  Then it tried to get out the door, but discovered that it couldn't.  I reached out and petted it twice, then opened the door and set it free.  I thought it might be more wary of me after that, but it actually allowed me to get into closer proximity to it.  The only time it moves away is when it is afraid that I might step on it.

It has a little ditch that it dug in the ground between the hay barn and the tack room where it can lie in the shade to keep cool.

Bombay had to come investigate what I was taking pictures of...

You can see the bunny in the foreground, and my bone collection in between the bunny and the horses.  We had a deer skull with antlers come down the wash last summer, and it was still there this summer, so I added it to my other skulls and bones.  I like to think that the spirits of the animals are comforted by being around living animals.

It's weird how bones rise to the surface around here.  With the exception of dead bunnies, lizards and snakes, I rarely see carcasses.  I just find skulls and bones lying around.  I found a huge knee and tibia in my round pen the other day.  I'm pretty sure the coyotes dragged it in there.  I think it belonged to a horse.  Someone probably buried it, and the coyotes dug it up.  A few months ago I found what we think was bobcat jaws.

We're trying to keep our garage bays closed to keep the air conditioning in, which means taking the dogs into the back yard instead of the side yard.  We keep chasing off the coyote that sleeps under the bush just off our porch.  So, the coyote moved to the front yard and sleeps under the hedge with the other coyote.  They are always there on hot days.  I got a picture of them scattering as I came around the corner.

They stopped to look at me.  This one is a girl.  She's very big and has a beautiful lope and pretty face.  She never growls or barks at me.  I think she's got some dog in her.

The male is smaller and a little more difficult.  He barks and huffs at me.
I have to get aggressive to chase him off.  I needed to get mail out of my mailbox and he stood his ground making ape noises.  I told him to beat it.  He reluctantly moved deeper into the bushes, but wouldn't leave completely.

My husband brought up that they are probably mating, and the last thing we want is coyote pups in our hedge.  That will make the grown ups even bolder.  Also, I don't want them getting a hold of Baby Bunny, so we're doing what we can to encourage the coyote couple to find another home.

4 comments:

Jen said...

Love the bunny photo! We have a rabbit family living just "up the hill" in our backyard (but just the one ;o) One of them was on my patio the other day; almost gave me a heart attack when he popped out from behind a stack of storage tubs. I scared him, too. *laugh*

I don't think I'd be too keen on having coyotes in my vicinity. Not sure how it works in other states, but do you have a county animal control person or a way to rent traps and relocate them to somewhere that's not your front door? If/when they have a litter I'd be afraid they would become dangerously aggressive; particularly toward your dogs.

TeresaA said...

Wow, that's interesting. I love the bunny he's adorable. I would be worried too about the Coyotes- that is far too close for them to live.

Crystal said...

aww baby bunny is too cute. hope it sticks around. And the coyotes leave, we have them around here but if they get too familiar with us they get shot, its not worth having them not afraid of us. And those look healthy too the ones we get around here that wont leave are usually mangy or injured and then they get aggressive cause they cant leave.

Cheryl Ann said...

I see lots of bunnies up at the horse ranch. Yes, they eat the spilled horse feed! They don't seem to be afraid of the horses. The ravens were ALL accounted for (all 5 of them) this weekend, so the family is still intact.
~Cheryl Ann~ (supposed to be 123 degrees here today...)