How did Greta know the nest was there? Baby bunnies have no scent, http://www.hopperhome.com/wild_bunnies.htm The lack of scent is doubtless Mother Nature’s way of helping them not attract predators before they’re big and strong enough to have at least a fighting chance to hop away.
The mother rabbit put the nest under the lilac bush. Poor choice. Greta claimed the area under the lilac years ago and hollowed it out the length of a large dog. She lies under the lilac in summer, enjoying the cool earth. When leaves fall, she plays hide-and-seek with her toys under the leaves. In winter, she sometimes hides toys and comes up with a faceful of snow. In spring, she may have to bite out some roots spreading into her area.
The day of the bunnies was sunny, but not too hot. Greta was lounging in the freshly-mown grass while I finished trimming. Crossing the yard, I felt something soft underfoot and stepped back to see a baby bunny, no more than four or five inches long, tiny perfect ears, eyes not yet open. It tried desperately, instinctively, to burrow into the lawn. I moved away.
Greta did not move, but within a few minutes she got up, went to the lilac bush, poked around beneath it and returned with another baby bunny in her jaws.
She dropped the bunny. I got her into the house and returned to the yard to check on the little creature. Like its brother or sister, it was burrowing desperately into the lawn.
I retreated to the house to think. Those bunnies had to be injured. If I were that size, I wouldn’t want to try to survive being carried in a dog’s jaws and then dropped from a height that was probably the equivalent of a two-story fall. If they were injured, the kindest thing would be not to let them suffer. But how do you kill a baby bunny humanely?
Well, Donna, what would you prefer if you were in their paws? Suffocation. I grabbed some plastic bags and went to the yard.
I couldn’t find one of the bunnies. It must have successfully burrowed under a clump of grass. The other was breathing, burrowing, not bleeding. Perhaps it was all right, after all. If so, it deserved a chance to live. I left the little rabbit and took the bags back into the house.
An engagement took me away from the house for several hours. By the time I returned, I had reasoned that the little one wasn’t going to make it without nourishment, and that had to come from mom. But mom wasn’t going to find it out in the yard.
I put on gloves so my scent wouldn’t transfer, found the bunny and carried it back under the lilac bush to where I thought the nest might be. It was hard to tell in the dark, but there was a shred of soft fur. I put the little creature down and went indoors.
The next morning, I kept Greta away from the lilac bush, but it didn’t matter. The bunny was gone. So was the one that had burrowed successfully into the grass. When I was sure, I released my dog. She checked thoroughly, but no bunnies.
My guess: the feral cats that roam the neighborhood killed and ate the bunnies. My guess also: the cats didn’t give it a second thought. Nor did Greta—she slept peacefully that night.
Is it silly to be sentimental over a couple of bunnies? The world is organized into predators and prey, and rabbits are the latter. Rabbits are not an endangered species. We humans eat beef, pork, chicken, venison. All very logical. But still . . .