Today was the day, just this morning. It was supposed to happen yesterday, but Ingrid said she got too emotional.
We released them in a low hedge near our house in the front yard. The first thing one of them did was run through the hedge and right into Bella, who was standing by watching the whole operation. The bunny ran away from Bella into the side yard, which was a bad place to go as there’s not much cover back there. Luckily, within a few minutes Bella managed to flush that bunny out again and sort of herded it back to the hedge.
Bella is such a sweet, gentle soul. She hates jackrabbits, though. HATES THEM. Dunno why.
So while I hung around for a few minutes before going to work the bunnies explored the hedge and a couple of them would venture out away from the hedge a bit before scooting back. They already seem very comfortable moving around in the fringes of the hedge, they aren’t acting as scared and skittish as they did when they were caged.
They don’t seem much afraid of us. Of course, they won’t let us get very close to them, but they don’t skedaddle on sight like some of the other bunnies in the yard do. They are also very tolerant of Bella, allowing her to come up pretty close. This, of course, worries me. Their most dangerous predators will be coyotes, so I hope they know the difference between my dog and a coyote (Bella sure does, she loves other dogs, but LOSES HER SHIT over coyotes, which of course look just like dogs to me, so I guess animals know the score).
I’ve been getting photo, video and text updates from Ingrid, who is hanging around the front yard this morning, keeping an eye on the bunnies. We left them with water, some carrots (there is plenty for them to eat in the yard, bunnies mostly eat grass), plus a little bunny house I made for them out of pine. Several other bunnies have appeared in the front yard. I hope they help our babies in some way, maybe showing them the ropes.
If they survive the next 48 hours, I think they will do all right.
I hope the other bunnies help our little guys out. I’ve been observing our neighborhood bunnies very carefully, and while cottontails do congregate in small, loose-knit groups, there is nothing like the fairly structured organization I have observed with my own eyes in Europe, and read about in Watership Down . Dunno whether that is good or bad for my babies. On the one hand, it probably means they won’t get much assistance from other bunnies; but then they would probably be regarded as outsiders by a more formal grouping.
Jackrabbits are highly solitary by contrast. Just saw a young one in the yard today, the second I have seen (there’s an adult jackrabbit I see about twice a month). A cottontail was following him around.