Monday, April 26, 2010
My pygmy neighbor
When not out with the sheep, Rant has been curled up next to the shed the last few days, while Rena has been “guarding” the pipe rabbit habitat, which consists of stacks of fencing supplies and pipe, and miscellaneous equipment. Today when I came around the corner of the shed, I saw a pygmy rabbit drive underneath. Ah-ha! That’s why Rant has been hanging out there. I grabbed my camera and came back around the corner to find the pygmy rabbit was far faster than my camera focus. One more try later, I realized I needed a new tactic.
I got in the truck and drove up to the front of the shed, and parked without getting out. I had the camera pointed on the opening under the shed, ready to rock. It took about five minutes before the little bugger came back out and I was rewarded for my efforts.
Of course I have no idea, but I think this particular pygmy rabbit appears masculine, so I’ve decided it’s a boy and I’ve named him Buck. He was very tolerant about me sitting in the truck, shooting photos, so when I finished up, I dropped off a flake of alfalfa for him. His burrow is next to where Jim parks the tractor every night, and there is always a little alfalfa left in the bucket, so Buck should get fat.
The funny thing is that although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service claims that pygmy rabbits are only associated with tall sagebrush, that’s not the case on our ranch. Here they are associated with low sagebrush, hard rocky soils and prairie dog colonies. We see pygmy rabbits every year here on the ranch. Although the FWS has determined that the pygmy rabbit may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act, I would like to see more census effort made outside of tall sagebrush. I think they’ll find there are more than previously believed.