Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Bravo earns his keep...

We have rabbits running amok at FairWinds, and it is all because of Ella goat and her insatiable appetite.  The way things should be is this: two calf hutches, side by side and under the shelter of some old pine trees house two female California rabbits in one, and two pet boy rabbits in the other.
To create a door to keep the bunnies in and predators (and hungry goats) out, we stole an idea our clever friend Scott came up with.  A couple of grated, metal storage shelves fastened together with zip ties and braced with a thin fiberglass fence post wedge in nicely and can be held fast with a bungee cord.  This allows light and air in, is easy to move about when taking care of the rabbits and is (usually) quite secure.

This set up worked well for a very long time, until about a month ago when naughty Ella got a yen for some rabbit food.  Sometime in the night she wiggled her head and muscular neck between the doorway of the hutch and the wire grate.  Goats are very strong, and Ella is a large goat in her prime. She pushed the door aside and let herself in for a nice snack. The real problem occurred when she neglected to fasten the door behind her when she was done.  When I went out to do chores the next morning the door was gaping and the lady rabbits were gone.  Ella showed no remorse.

Once nice thing about rabbits is they don't tend to travel far when they get loose.  The ladies quickly figured out how to seek shelter under the front porch, or cozier still, under the overturned kayaks. They stayed in a place where it was simple for me to put food, water and treats out for them. I made a few half-hearted attempts to catch them with a net, and made a mental note to get my live trap out and bait it, but then I never did. Truth to tell, I got a kick out of seeing them hopping around the yard. Of course,they were at risk for getting eaten by an eagle or fox, but they just looked so darn happy.  I'd see them exploring about, nibbling on twigs, racing full tilt over the snow, leaping with the joy of freedom.

Then last weekend when I was doing chores I found that two boy bunnies from a third hutch had somehow gotten out.  Now I had four leaping lagomorphs on the loose.  Things were getting serious.  Last night I set the live trap.  I put some juicy apple slices and hay in, and put it in one of the spots where they were prone to hanging out.  This morning I saw one of the rabbits nibbling on the hay from the outside of the trap. That was a promising start.

A moment later, I saw Bravo alert.

And the chase was on...
"BRAVO!" I called, and he stopped, and came to me, head low, ears pinned, apologetic.  He didn't mean any harm, but it was impossible to not chase something so tempting.  Just then I heard a "SNAP!"  The bunny had run from Bravo, straight into the trap!  

Delighted, I transferred it to it's hutch. 

An hour later I glanced out the window, so pleased to know that one escapee was settled and safe. I saw a little face peering out of the hutch.  A face that DID NOT BELONG THERE. 

Bad Ella struck again!  How she managed to get in with FOUR elastic cords pulled tight, I do not know. But I do know that the door shut behind her, trapping her and the rabbit fast.  Just to be spiteful I left her there a while. She looked good behind bars.  

At least one of my animals was well behaved today. Well done, Bravo.  Three more bunnies to go. 

No comments: