In My Backyard – Issue #7 – Rabbit


More Than Just a Rabbit

When you look up at the moon, what do you see? The man in the moon? A rabbit making mochi? –What?! A rabbit? Making mochi?

Never have I looked up at the moon and seen a rabbit; making a mashed rice dish, no less. But in Japan, it is said that Rabbits live on the moon where they pound glutinous rice in an usu, or what we would call a mortar and pestle. So much for the man in the moon. Then again, maybe now the man in the moon isn’t lonely. (I hope he doesn’t like rabbit meat). Similarly, in Korea rabbits live on the moon making rice cakes, which are pretty much the same thing as mochi. As for rabbits in Africa, Kalulu is a tricky character, cunning and mischievous. A friend of Loki, no doubt. It’s interesting to see all the ways these little animals have influenced the cultures of the world. They are known to be symbols of youthfulness and innocence, rebirth, fertility, cleverness and foolishness, cowardice and bravery. And further, in Dorset, UK, the rabbit was considered so unlucky that people would refer to them as “long ears” or “underground mutton” just so they wouldn’t have to say the word. Fortunately, this has become more of a past superstition than a modern one.

Rabbit on the Moon

The Rabbit

The rabbit was first considered a member of the order Rodentia due to its many similarities, but Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, put them in the order Lagomorpha for a few reasons. One, even though their teeth continue to grow throughout their whole lifetime, Lagomorphs have four incisor teeth as opposed to the rodents two. Second, they are herbivores and not omnivores, eating grasses and leafy weeds.

A small mammal, the rabbit breeding period ranges from February to October (9 months) and during that time a female can have from 4 to 12 babies, resulting in around 800 new additions per season. Obviously, given the right conditions, which are not in the least narrow, the rabbit can easily, and quickly, overpopulate and become a nuisance.

Overpopulating rabbits on a university campus.

And speaking of nuisance, have you ever heard of Br’er Rabbit? Yes, that lovable little trickster who bests his enemies with wit instead of muscle. Sound familiar? Remember Kalulu? Br’er Rabbit has origins in African and North American cultures. He was immortalized orally for years until Joel Chandler Harris put the stories on paper under the familiar ‘Uncle Remus’ tales. In 1946, Disney put out the Song of the South which is a live-action/animated musical film telling the story of Uncle Remus.

Closer to Home

In the winter months, experiencing wildlife is more or less rare. Most commonly seen during these lean times are the deer and a variety of birds. This months subject of “Rabbits” may appear to be scraping the bottom of the barrel but it is no less a good subject, all the same. In fact, though common, the Bunny is the epitome of cute, with its fluffy body and long ears. It wiggles its little nose to test the air and hops with an unexpected strength.

Cottontail Rabbit

It was just the other day, we were walking our dogs in the field behind our house like we often do, and we had decided to move on to the next field where its more wild and secluded. Mother had just mentioned possibly seeing more wildlife, and I was thinking how good it would be for me and this months In My Backyard post, when Hop! Hop! Hop! a rabbit took off for the trees. The dogs spotted it before we did and almost took our arms off. There are many times they take off after a smell and we go flying with them. Just to clarify, we have a Chocolate Lab, a Lab/Pit Bull mix, and a Husky mix, who all pull twice as hard as you might expect. I can’t explain it any better than that. You really have to have a good stand when they catch a whiff of something attractive. And its not that they aren’t trained to obey, even though there are times when they could be a little more obedient. They are definitely high energy animals. But I digress from my original subject.

All that I really saw of the bunny as it fled was a splotch of brown and a fluffy white tail. The dogs made sure we didn’t see it anymore that night. But the next night my brothers said they think they spotted it again. I just so happens we also saw three deer, two does and a buck, who also quickly left at our arrival.

The wonderful things you can see if you leave your noisy neighborhood and explore nature. You really never know what you’ll see next. And I love it!

European Rabbit

Rabbit Trivia

Before I end this months post, let me give you a little trivia. Did you know that a male rabbit is called a buck as well? The females are called does, and the young are kittens or kits.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed a little insight on a common creature. Leave a comment and tell me what you think!

Kit in Nest

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