As my husband and I backed out of the driveway on our way to the hospital at 4 a.m. the day our son was born, we saw a rabbit hopping slowly around our front yard. Though they are common along the bayou trails, this was the first time we had seen one in our yard. I was charmed. It seemed like a good omen.
Since then, rabbits have been regular visitors to our backyard, though we rarely see them in the front. Two rabbits have claimed our backyard as their territory. They graze here every morning and evening, and sometimes I even see them in the middle of the day. Our yard is a sanctuary of sorts for them. An iron fence that separates our yard from the public park lets rabbits pass through easily but keeps unleashed dogs out. Neighborhood cats still pose a danger, but so far they have been unsuccessful in bagging a rabbit.
These particular rabbits are swamp rabbits, a large version of cottontails. (See a brief comparison of the eastern cottontail, the swamp rabbit, and the California jackrabbit here.) The distinguishing characteristics of swamp rabbits as opposed to ordinary cottontails are that swamp rabbits, which weigh 3 to 6 pounds, are twice the weight of regular cottontails. Behavior-wise, swamp rabbits are just as willing to swim to evade predators as they are to run. Another habit (for digestive purposes: if you’re determined to get the real scoop on why rabbits eat poop, click here) which I find amusing is that swamp rabbits like to poop on platforms—tree stumps and stepping stones are favorite toilets.
And in the spring, we have bunnies!