Tuesday 20 August 2013

Wild In The Country

We have had a small number of wild rabbits handed in to us over the years, for example where their nest has been dug up and destroyed, or their mother killed, or they've been brought in by someones cat etc. Where we are able to minimise human contact, most will maintain their survival instincts and can be released back in to the wild, though occasionally some have long term health problems (like missing teeth) or on rare occasions the nursing has been so hands-on that they become too accustomed to humans and effectively become domestic themselves. Our friend Minty, pictured below, is currently undecided as to which way she wants to go...

"I do dream of open fields. If only I could get these silly humans to deliver my breakfast there I'd be sorted."

I say small number. Over the 5+ years volunteering here I'd seen maybe a dozen come in, then a few months ago we suddenly had 12 come in the same week. So young they were that they needed syringe feeding milk, so we were a little worried that, should they survive, they would become too attached to Caroline and lose their wild ways. Especially this chap.


We are lucky enough to have a good and fairly local contact for releasing onto private land in a relatively (as much as it can be) safe part of the countryside. This is a centre that specialises in taking in sick and injured wild animals, including rabbits, until they are well enough to return to the wild, so they are very skilled and experienced. So as soon as we felt our little group of 12 were ready, off we went. Things didn't go exactly to plan however. Here was the first release attempt a few weeks back...

They wouldn't leave the carrier and when Caroline lifted a couple of them out they just jumped onto her lap. So in agreement with our expert colleagues from the centre, after a short distraction rounding up the one little bun who decided to venture out a couple of feet just to sit under a tree, we packed them all back into the carrier and took them back to the Rescue.

Well here we are, several weeks on and more grown up, and they really were ready to move out. So yesterday I am pleased to say that they were collected and taken back to the countryside to return to their natural home.

We will miss their strange ways. One time they went missing and were found squashed between the back of their hutch and the aviary wall several feet off the ground like little bunny-ninjas, trying to avoid detection. Another time when I had broken my usual routine and fed their neighbours before them, I returned with their food to find a group of them waiting in a row, presumably having thought when they heard me leave that I had already left the snacks and not expected me to return. It doesn't sound much, but when you would normally just not see them at all it was a very odd experience seeing 5 properly wild bunnies seemingly waiting in a line. But much as we will miss them, of course we are happy that they have returned to their natural habitat.

May you live long and exciting lives, little ones.


  1. Not that is great news,well done,xx Rachel

  2. Well, Misty has certainly summed up the essential existential dilemma there, so funny, but so, so sad. The other two pictures are so precious in all senses of the word. One of which is "of incomparable value." I believe RG at A Houseful of Rabbits has a link to the true story of a Scottish hare and his life between two worlds. As Rachel said, "Well Done!" For us American Trekkies, please whisper across the fields, "Live Long and Prosper."

  3. As Misty is a lone rabbit and not in a group I suspect her survival chances might be a lot lower when first released. However that isjust from reading articles etc on the subject - our three wildies are here with us and am not expecting to release.

  4. Do they track them by the way? or do they have other methods of assessing success rates of release?

  5. These are beautiful pictures, really, really good. I am afraid I don't know anything about wild bunny rescue, but there must certainly be alot to know and lots of issues. We recently sought the aid of Austin Wildlife Rescue because a young bunny had been turned over to us, and we weren't even sure if he was wild or not. He was certainly terrified of everything. That is when we learned that five members of AWR's board were experts in wild bunny issues, and they were ready to help us. There was a show recently on our Public Television Station, KLRU, done either in the Nova series or on the program Nature, called Odd Couples. (Not sure about all of the details here.) One of the stories dealt with the lifelong attachment between a family dog and an orphan fawn. Even years later the "fawn" would come back with her fawns to visit the dog. They were going back and forth across the wild/domestic border. Your bunnies are little living spirits making very unique journeys through the livingness of this world, not one will be the same because not one of the little bunns is the same. I think I understand that you have difficult choices to make with regards to each bunny. All I can say is thank you, because kindness is immortal and it builds good things. Unfortunately, Gray Feather has insisted that I add, "Don't let the bunny in the middle picture loose on your island."