This morning I got up super early (6am was crazy early for me until a few weeks ago) and decided on the spur of the moment to go to Tommy Thompson Park for my long morning walk. I’m so glad I did!
In addition to an amazing air show and the symphony of birds — including incredible trumpeter swans flying, swooping, calling to each other and tending to babies — and a quick glimpse I got of a beaver, today it was a joy to encounter two eastern cottontail bunnies.
The first cottontail met me on a wide open path, watched me for a minute or two, then hopped into the brush. It was a large calm alert adult.
I met it again on another nearby path, where it sat and looked at me for what seemed like a very long time. In fact, it was probably only 2 or 3 full minutes. Then it seemed to be showing me the way – leading me down the path for a while. Until it lept to the right, off the path into a small meadow-like strip of land.
Then on my return, on a different trail on the other side of the park, I saw a young cottontail just of the path.
Amazing how well it was camouflaged in the leaves and against a tree.
Although the two I saw today were quiet, still, and lopped a little further way from me to keep a distance within their comfort zone, eastern cottontails are actually superfast – like 40km per hour fast! Though they are usually end up running slower because they run in a zig-zag pattern. And they can leap 15 feet in one jump, if they want to. (Which, you’d imagine they need to be able to do, to outrun predators like coyotes, foxes, hawks, and others.)
I was also surprised to learn that cottontail rabbits are crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk) and nocturnal (active mainly at night).
In some Indigenous cultures, Nanabush (or Nanabozho), the trickster, teacher, and co-creator of the world, is a raven, a coyote – and a rabbit.
Here are a few fun facts, from Wild City by Doug Bennett and Tim Tyner:
- Only about 20% survive to adulthood. The average lifespan is 15 months, though they can live up to 5 years in the wild and up to 9 years in captivity.
- “Scats: Size of plump smarties”
- “Number of hare or rabbit taste buds: 17,000. Number of human taste buds: 9,000.”
- “Number of Ontario rabbit or hare species: 4”
- “Famous bunnies: Bugs Bunny, PEter Cottontail, Thumper, Roger Rabbit, Harvey, Flopsy and Mopsy, Fiver, Bigwig, Brer Rabbit, The White Rabbit, Fletcher Rabbit, Raggylug, Blackberry”