What's up, Doc? Buzzards!!!

by Harry Miller October 23, 2016

Why bunnies love twilight

As we touched on in the previous blog, crepuscular critters are so called because they're most active during twilight: but every half-light loving creature has their own reasons as to why they prefer this mystical period of the day. And our friend the bunny has a very compelling reason indeed. 

On the whole, the feathered predators have got night and day covered: from the tawny owl who sneaks up on unsuspecting sleeping wood pigeons in the middle of the night, to the buzzard who spends the whole day high up in the thermals browsing the land as if it were a sparse fluctuating dinner plate. 

So for the crepuscular bunny, being out and about during twilight simply narrows the chance of becoming someone else's meal; although some clever predators, such as the bear (who we will meet at a later date), are wise to this and so too have evolved live a crepuscular existence. 

As with most mammals, it is believed that the rabbits own personal retinal clock induces the animal to live a life in twilight, as is it set to make sure the rabbit is most active during the safest hours of the day.  So if your beloved pet bunny is refusing to bat an eyelid during the day - despite your best carrot-waving antics - he probably hasn't lost his appetite. It's just that thousands of years of evolution is telling him now's the time to take a nap!    

Although there is one rabbit who can safely go about his business during night or day, and that's Mahtigwess, The Great Rabbit, whose tale is told in the Native American legends of the Algonquin people:

There was once a hungry wildcat with a very handsome long tail who decided that he didn't just want to devour any old rabbit, no, he wanted to eat the magical Mahtigwess, The Great Rabbit. 

The wildcat had a miserable time trying to catch this trickster - who persisted in thwarting all attempts of his capture by using his magical powers - and so in a rage, the wildcat swore that he would catch that rabbit on all things that were dear to him: his teeth, his claws, and his tail! 

Meanwhile Mahtigwess, The Great Rabbit, only had enough magic left to trick the wildcat one last time, and so he hatched the plan of all plans. 

Wildcat went on to track the rabbit to a vast lake, but when he reached the waters he came across a tall European ship with a grey-haired captain onboard.  Wildcat was wise to this trick: "Rabbit!", cried the wildcat, "I know you!  You're no French captain."  He then proceeded to jump aboard.  The Great Rabbit / French Captain then ordered his crew to fire their rifles at the feline assassin.  Wildcat had never seen gunfire before, and it was such a shock to him that it didn't matter that the ship and crew were actually an illusion, to wildcat it seemed very real, and he fled for his life. 

And so, because he failed to catch this magical bunny, the wildcat lost the tail he swore on, and is now a bobcat with a short stumpy tail.

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Harry Miller
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