"Social groups vary from a single pair to up to 30 rabbits using the same warren. Within large groups there is a distinct social hierarchy. The most dominant males, known as bucks, have priority of access to females, known as does. The most dominant does have access to the best nest sites. Bucks and does seldom fight with each other. Competition between does for nest sites can lead to serious injuries and death. Lower ranking rabbits may be forced to breed in single entrance breeding "stops" away from the main burrows where they and their young are more vulnerable to predators."
Rabbits originate in the Western Mediterranean countries of Spain and Portugal and were introduced to the UK by the Normans in the 12th century to provide a source of meat and fur. Numbers gradually rose to the extent that they were considered a serous pest of agriculture though the introduction of the devastating disease myxomatosis (I wrote a little on this in a previous post) led to a dramatic decline in their numbers (estimated to be between 90-95%). Rabbits are of course a prey species, and are an important food source to wild predators such as foxes, weasels, stoats, buzzards and owls. They are also killed by dogs and cats and it is these latter two that would pose the most danger in a semi-urban area like ours with several neighbours owning dogs and the customary couple of cats roaming the neighbourhood. Sadly the odds are stacked against her, wild rabbits rarely live more than 3 years and according to the Mammal society website - "Over 90% die in the first year of life, and most of these in the first three months", so we'll enjoy her little visits for as long as they last.
As a prey species rabbits are of course generally very wary but if we are already outside (and keep fairly still and quiet) this youngster has wandered around happily making the most of a lawn that is nearly as much clover as it is grass...
|Checking if it's safe to come out|
|So is super-big-giant-grass (pampas)|
|All this eating is quite tiring...|
|But still need to keep alert...|
|The 'leaping bunny' shots need some work...|