Monday, February 8, 2010

The Notched-Ear Bunny

A desert cottontail that frequents our small desert yard is one I've nicknamed The Notched-Ear Bunny.

You can't see the notch -- it's on the outside of his right ear which is hidden behind my hand as I offer him a piece of apple.

As you can see, he's a little bolder than most of the bunnies around here -- he'll cautiously come up to me to see if I have an apple piece to give him. He'll take it from my fingers, then run off a short ways to eat it as he keeps an eye on me. Just taking a picture of him was enough to make him run off, although he came right back.

In some ways, bunnies coming up to human beans isn't a good thing for bunnies to do, but it did work to his advantage on one occasion.

Some months ago, I noticed he had a cactus spine stuck in his head above his eye. Normally, bunnies just grab spines in their teeth and pull them out. But there was no way for him to get at this one. And when he got into scuffles with other bunnies (they sit up on their hindlegs and rapidly scratch at each others' faces with their forepaws), The Notched-Ear Bunny would actually scream out in pain. I'm sure it didn't feel good to have a paw brush down against a spine embedded in his head.

Finally one day, he came over looking for apple goodies, and I thought: now's my chance to remove the spine! When he came for the apple, I was able to reach over with my other hand and, after three tries, grabbed the spine and pulled it out. I suspect, in his own way, he appreciated what I did, and this simple act made me feel like a hero or somethin'! And he got his piece of apple when he returned the fourth time, sans spine.

If The Notched-Ear Bunny had never developed the habit of coming over to me for hand-held goodies, I could never have done this for him.

And he's still around, begging for apple goodies. Today, I gave him two. I thought he deserved them.

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