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Saturday, November 30, 2013


We came upon this Brush Rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani) feeding along the edge of the Pinnacle Gulch Trail during the late afternoon on 30 November 2013.  Although I've thought about posting about this species before, I haven't managed a good picture yet.  Today I can't resist for a few reasons.

(1) I learned something about what Brush Rabbits eat.  I mentioned the rabbit was feeding.  We could see that it was nibbling on something.  After it had hopped away into the vegetation, I went over to evaluate what it had been eating.  I wasn't certain, but it looked like the grass blades had been clipped.  Later I read this about Brush Rabbits:

"Edible grasses are by far the most important food for the Brush Rabbit throughout most of its range." (Orr 1940, as quoted in Chapman 1974) 

The article went on to say that when clovers were available, they were preferred more than all other plants.

(2) I learned that Brush Rabbits are crepuscular.  They're most active between ~6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and then between sunset and 2 a.m.  When they're not active, they spend a lot of time resting or basking in their forms (a form is a cleared shelter in the brush about the same size as the rabbit). 

(3) Tomorrow is the first day of December, and in some places it's a tradition to say "Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit" out loud upon waking to bring good luck for the rest of the month.  So, here's a reminder to say your rabbits!

P.S. Do you know how a book sometimes stays with you forever?  Watership Down comes up in my life frequently.  Whenever I see a rabbit feeding like this, the word "silflay" is the first thing I think of.  In Watership Down, silflay is a term used to describe when the rabbits leave their burrows to feed; it can also be translated as "to eat outside."  I had a friend who also knew this book well and we would enjoy picnics together, so we would say to each other, "Want to silflay?" 

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