The BioGeek Memoirs: Cottontail Rabbit

My neighborhood is just awash with cottontail rabbits. They are just dang cute and hang around houses and gardens where they snack with absolutely no remorse on lawns, gardens and weeds alike. Okay, they can be pests, too. I used to live on a street where you had to stop the car, get out, and chase the bunnies out of the street before you could drive through. It isn’t that these bunnies have a death wish; they sense danger in the movement of the car, freeze, and do their best to look like rocks. That’s the life of a bunny: everyone wants to eat you for lunch. Your best bet is to hope to look like a rock.

Cottontail rabbits at the edge of my driveway.

Where I live there are three distinct species of cottontail rabbits: the mountain cottontail, the desert cottontail, and the eastern cottontail. Since I live on the plains of my state (Colorado) and not in the mountain or desert portions, I’m thinking that the bunnies that I know and love are the eastern cottontail. These little guys (about 2 pounds) hang out in shrubs and under decks living their best little bunny lives while raising youngsters all summer long. Yep. Things can certainly get out of hand quickly as they can have more than one litter a year.

I had a beloved cat who caught an even dozen baby bunnies in one year. We don’t talk about that in my house. We still had to chase bunnies out of the street when we wanted to drive to the grocery store.

Does this look like the face of a bunny murderer?

I became enamored with cottontail rabbits when I was working on my master’s degree as a biology teacher. I had just received a digital camera as a gift and was walking the circuit around a local pond taking pictures for a project that I was working on. I got shots of plants, birds, a muskrat swimming, an extremely cute prairie dog, and this cottontail rabbit.

Cottontail eating alfalfa.

I loved this shot of the rabbit. It quickly became a focal point of the master’s project for my degree program.

Here’s the deal: you have to have some animal (or plant) to use to anchor your biology program. All the major biology books these days carry with them a plethora of support materials (paper and online) and in the field we all refer to individual programs by the animal/plant featured on the books. When I was in the classroom the programs were referred to as the “owl”, “elephant” or “killer whale” books.  It looks like the current editions of the books I taught from are now “honeybee” and “lotus” books. Cool, huh. Anyway, I created as my master’s project an online platform to anchor my biology class. Students (and parents) could see what we were covering each week, get copies of all the worksheets, pick up their make-up work from me online, and get explanations/links to all of the standards and grading rubrics used in the course. I even had some videos and pdf documents of the lecture notes when possible. I handed out little business cards with the bunny’s photo on it to parents at teachers’ conferences. I won some grants to expand the website and eventually created online-only biology courses for my district.

Everything I did featured that wild bunny. I branded the whole thing Wild Bunny Biology. That wild bunny took me to a national conference where I presented my online website and shared tips/info/strategies on how other teachers could make their own. Eventually I began to sell some of my work products online to other biology teachers. The name of my little biology shop was called, of course, Wild Bunny Biology. Oh, yeah. I also got that master’s degree.

Dang, that cottontail rabbit was good to me!!

Today I am retired and those wild bunny teaching moments are long gone, but the wild bunnies are with me still. They cavort in the shrubs and lawn beside my favorite (outdoor) restaurant. They hang out in the landscaping of the Kaiser clinic where I go to appointments with my doctors. They are all over my neighborhood and this summer a baby bunny grew up, all alone, in my back yard where it provided daily entertainment for Hannah and the CoalBear.

Bunny watching!

And every evening it was bunny o’clock.

I never pull the dandelions because they are good for bees and bunnies! See my bunny munching on the dandelion and ignoring the rose bush?!

My summer bunny is gone now. It met up with another rabbit late in the summer and hit the road for better parts. I’m kind of hoping that it will return or drop off some offspring next summer, but only time will tell.

It’s always bunny o’clock in my yard. 🙂

Author: Midnight Knitter

I weave, knit and read in Aurora, Colorado where my garden lives. I have 2 sons, a knitting daughter-in-law, a grandson and two exceptionally spoiled kittens. In 2014 I was diagnosed with a serious rare autoimmune disease called systemic sclerosis along with Sjogren's Disease and fibromyalgia.

18 thoughts on “The BioGeek Memoirs: Cottontail Rabbit”

  1. Your post made me wonder about what breed the UK bunny is…we just have one and it’s not native.. it is the European rabbit. We have 3 types of hare but just one rabbit. My cats were bunny killers and eaters. I always remember my neighbour staring at her driveway and I asked what she was looking at…turned out it was rabbit ears she had run over and they were squished into her tarmac drive eeew.

    1. Well, now you made me think about the UK bunny so I had to go on a Google search. In the search I learned that your bunny population is declining because of a haemorrhagic viral disease that is moving through the population. Um… I just heard that this virus is now in Colorado moving through the wild rabbit population. Poor bunnies. I remember it referred to as “Bunny Ebola” when I read about it last year.
      I once saw a pancaked bunny while walking… eeew
      We have Bigfoot Hares that are just a riot to see. Enormous feet and ears to match!

    1. Thank you. I am lucky to live on the edge of the plains where I live and there are open spaces around all the waterways that lets animals move through residential areas. Mostly that is a good thing…

  2. I absolutely love bunnies! We plant clover each year in an attempt to lure them into the yard. One year I was on Long Island (not exactly the countryside) and the bunnies were running around these tiny yards and sidewalks like squirrels. I couldn’t get over it.

    1. I think that they must like clover. I discovered early on that they love dandelion leaves and would leave out plants that I pulled for them overnight to see what happened… why, those leaves vanished! Now keep some plants going just to feed these guys. I have a few dandelions that are the size of romaine lettuce!
      I learned in a book once that rabbits were once called Coneys, and were kept on islands because they could dig under walls, which made me think of Coney Island. I’m pretty sure there were once a lot of islands in that area!!

  3. I love the BioGeek Memoirs so much! We have a lot of Eastern Cottontails here. At our old house it was not unusual to look out into the yarn and see 15, even with a large dog who has been known to eat bunnies. We don’t have many at our new house, but we did have one who managed to eat all of the sunflowers growing in our raised bed. I’m very interested in your science background. It is like reading a book.

  4. I love this new post series!! Your online teaching platform sounds really interesting – I am a trainer and do a lot of online and LMS stuff as well. I love that bunny image too 🙂

    1. That’s what the degree was focused. There were two pathways in the program: corporate and educational. I went the corporate route and learned so much that I could turn around and use in my classroom and then later in collaborative committee work with the district. So useful!

  5. I love bunnies! We had a pet bunny when I was younger—a little while after Easter an obviously former pet appeared in our neighborhood, and we took it in to keep it safe from neighborhood dogs (never found the owner, so I think it was abandoned and not lost). I rarely see the wild ones where I live in the suburbs, but I love bunny spotting when I’m somewhere with enough open land!

    1. I had a pet rabbit too! She was a huge digger and it was a chore to keep her safe when we let her run around outside. My dad made her an outdoor covered pen that was pretty large that she went in to munch on the lawn.

      1. They’re so cute, rabbits! Our pet rabbit was more interested in chasing the outdoor cats than digging to get away. (We lived in the country, and the local colony of feral cats knew we would feed them… they didn’t realize it was our ploy to get them comfortable enough with us that we could get them fixed.) So in general it was pretty safe for him to be out on the lawn, though always supervised.

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