Monday, July 7, 2008

Two Little Miracles

The first is the Evening Primrose. My backyard neighbor gave one to my next door neighbor three years ago, and this year, she gave me one that grew from the seed of hers. We were told it was a "moon flower," because it only blooms at night, but it turns out to be an Evening Primrose. It's remarkable! It's SO much fun! That's because the buds open and bloom right in front of your eyes. A bud such as the ones pictured here begins to tremble, then bursts open to look like the bloom on the left. Give it 30 seconds, it looks like the larger bloom.

In another 30 seconds, it is fully open, as shown here.

Each plant, each season, seems to have its favorite time to open. Ours begin around 8:45, and the show lasts perhaps half an hour, until each bud is open. The blooms stay pretty and fresh all night, but close up and wilt before mid-morning, when new buds begin to form, so the performance can be repeated when evening comes again.

We've all gotten enormous joy, hours of joy, literally just standing around watching the roses bloom!

Another joy for Demetrios and me lately has been the little cottontail bunny we've had for about two weeks now. He looks like this picture (from the Internet).

Cottontails are very difficult to raise in captivity, so I am thrilled that he has made it, so far. He (or she?) ought to be weaned, but he won't drink water out of a bowl yet, only formula. He loves clover, dandelion leaves, wild violets (leaves and blooms), spinach, broccoli, carrots, kale, and many other veggies, plus apples.

These animals are considered very skittish, high stress creatures who very frequently die from sheer fright. The conventional wisdom, therefore, is to leave them alone as much as possible. Feed them, change their bedding every couple of days, and leave them alone, dark, warm, and quiet. Barb, the Bunny Queen, has even taken to tube feeding them (inserting a rubber tube directly into their stomachs and feeding them through that) as it is quicker, hence, in theory, less stressful for both animal and rehabber, than nursing, which with bunnies takes forever.

But I once read an article by a rehabber who has had phenomenal success with her bunnies by taming them! She says once they are tame, they don't stress out anymore. So this time, I tried her method. (Bunny had nothing to lose, as my success rate with such young bunnies as this is ZERO.) And guess what? It has worked! Bunny, so far, has survived longer by far than any other I've ever tried to raise. And he doesn't at all mind being handled; in fact, he seems to love it.

There's a drawback, though. This bunny is TOO tame. He thinks the best place to be is in my lap. When I take him outside to nibble on weeds, if I walk three steps away from him, he comes hopping toward me. I don't know if he will be releaseable.

The woman who wrote the article has a huge back yard all set up for bunnies, complete with housing she has constructed for them. I don't. She releases them in her back yard. I can't. Besides, that seems rather to defeat the purpose of rehabbing them, which is to keep up the wild population...

Well, if he lives, which I'm still having trouble believing will happen, he may have to be somebody's pet. Fortunately, I know just the person for him; Linda will adore him and will spoil him rotten.

P.S.) You know how long a cottontail lives in the wild? Less than a year, due to predation. Bottom of the food chain and all that. Hardly seems worth all the effort of raising them. I'll bet the average captive-raised bunny survives less than a week. So I'm not really sure this is a good use of my time. Except that it is such a joy.