CHAPTER 77—The Cycle of Life
“You’re grown up dear. It’s time for you to find your own place to live,” said Willow to her kit Abby. Abby wondered, “But why momma? I like it here. It’s safe. Dad puts food out for us. And I can stay with you.” Willow explained, “Sweetie, you have to go find your own place. I’m going to have more babies, so I need this space.”
Abby was sad. She liked living by the House of Buns. Just then, she heard Dad and Auntie Lauren coming down the stairs. Unlike in the past, she didn’t run for cover. In fact, she wandered out to the garden to greet them. “Well hello there, Abby!” said Dad. “How are you today? Would you like some fresh veggies?”
Dad went in the house to prepare a plate of fresh cilantro and an apple slice while Auntie Lauren sat on the steps with Abby. Dad placed the tray of greens in front of her, and she delicately munched on them.
Dad didn’t understand her nose twitching, or he would have heard her say, “I’ve come to say goodbye. I have to leave and find a new place. Thanks for looking out for me since I was a baby. I’ll miss you.” Finished with her greens, she took one last look at Dad and hopped away. Little did Dad know, that was the last time he’d see her.
Dad noticed Willow had been busy running in and out from under the house. A couple of weeks later, Dad checked the underhouse camera and discovered four new kits. Willow had had her second litter! The kits were old enough to come out from under the plywood and were playing under the house. One of them had a distinctive fur marking the right side of his neck.
“Abigail, look, there are four new kits under the house!” said Dad. Unbeknownst to Dad, Willow had already told Abigail about her new family. Over the next few weeks, the kits got bigger and bigger, and finally began appearing outside. Once again, one of them lingered behind under the house—the one with the fur marking. “Abigail, I’m going to name him Basil.”
Eventually, Willow coaxed Basil to go outside. “Basil, here’s where the human puts out food for us. It’s still important to forage for food, but you can always get a good square meal here,” explained Willow. The cycle of life continued. Many a morning, while Dad made breakfast for the house buns, he watched Basil nibbling on alfalfa and willow leaves. “I hope Basil stays here,” said Dad to Abigail. “Well, I’ll ask him,” thought Abigail.
Dad was learning a lot about the secret life of wild rabbits. He had read many times that rabbits are active at dusk and dawn, but the truth was, rabbits were active most of the day—and night! The camera recorded them coming by to nibble every couple of hours throughout the day and night. About the only times the rabbits didn’t appear were from 4 AM to 6 AM and 2 PM to 4 PM.
Dad had noticed that Abigail and Bentley were active most of the day and night, taking occasional naps now and then, and that they liked to stay up until 2 AM. He thought that was just house rabbit behavior, but it turned out, they were just like their wild cousins!