Do cottontail rabbits deserve the ire of gardeners? After all, it is the gardener who puts out all those delectable posies. What’s a hungry rabbit to do?

This year, gardeners got some relief: all the groundhogs departed early, perhaps discouraged from bearing pups by the long, cold spring. Animals in the wild seem to know when it’s propitious to start a family, and when it’s not — an observation from an old friend, more attuned to such things than I.

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Our yard is in-between its spring and summer blooms right now, so the worst this rabbit could do is eat a few tender leaves, which I don’t begrudge it, if it doesn’t bring the whole family.

The tail’s white underside is not visible in these photos, but if you look at the first and last photos carefully, you’ll just make out hints of the white, which we usually see only when the rabbit is running away from us.

Here in New England, we normally encounter one of two species, the Eastern Cottontail or the New England Cottontail, which are indistinguishable in the field. The latter is in decline due to habitat loss and competition from the non-native Eastern Cottontail. For a good, quick comparison of the two, and ways to prevent cottontail damage, read Cottontails from MassWildlife.

The photos were taken on June 24, 2012, late in the day (note the time stamp under each). The image quality is a bit off because I was shooting through the double glass of a thermal window, while fighting reflections off the glass.

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See related posts: Northern Pintail and Groundhog Pup.


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