Tuesday May 14, 2013,
Here’s a shot of a young Eastern Cottontail I saw at Avalon Preserve last week. He’s only half-grown but he’s not so new to the world. Most rabbits are only fist-sized when they’re turned out to fend for themselves. While this guy isn’t even an adult yet, he does show signs of what it means to be a rabbit in the wild. Click on the pic and have a look at those ears. Something, possibly a fox or a hawk, has been at this little one. Maybe even a raccoon or a possum. If you look closely enough, you’ll see that at least one tick is still chowing down on our unfortunate hero. There are many, many critters that have rabbit on the menu. This could go a long way to explaining why rabbits procreate like, well, rabbits. They absolutely need to. They’re feeding an entire ecosystem. JK
Poor, little bunny.
I believe I read in my rabbit book (from when I had a pet rabbit) that the average lifespan of a rabbit in the wild is 15 days. Yup. THAT’S why the need to procreate like rabbits!
Lisa, on the upside, this little one is a survivor and next spring (maybe even this summer) it’ll get the chance to pass on those genes that have served it so well thus far.
Michele, is it possible that you’re misremembering your reading? 15 days seems too short. Could it have been 15 months instead?
Nope. It was 15 DAYS. That tells you why they procreate as fast as they do. It’s a really rough world out there. And, as you note, a lot of creatures consider them food. Tough being a rabbit.
As for the life expectancy, I do recall that number very well because it shocked me. It was in a book to help people care for domesticated rabbits as pets and gave a bit of background on wild rabbits, including that horrible life expectancy. I have, however, also seen other estimates from 11 months to three years, so that does raise the question whether or not the experts on the subject have enough data and reliable enough data to make a clear statement on the issue.