I’ve long been justifying the distinctly unkempt state of my flower and vegetable gardens by calling them “wildlife refuges.” Lame as it is, my justification was proven accurate when, a few weeks ago, my husband Paul discovered four adorable baby bunnies nestled in the flower garden. He called me over, and my heart was warmed by the sight. That flower garden may have been a Darwinian struggle for survival as far as the plants were concerned, but by golly, its overgrown state was providing shelter to these innocent little beings.
My heart became slightly less warm when I noticed the partially eaten corpse of a fifth baby bunny nearby, and I thought it strange that a predator would eat only part of a baby bunny (the whole of which would not have made a very substantial meal) then wander away, leaving the rest unharmed. “Well,” I thought, “maybe it was startled and ran away before it could finish its snack.”
I didn’t want the unfortunate bunny’s remains to attract the predator back, though, so I used a nearby burdock leaf (ANOTHER advantage of being lazy!) to pick it up and hurl it into some bushes, satisfied that the four bunnies left would now be safe.
Not so. They disappeared one by one over the course of the next couple of weeks. One evening, I noticed another partial corpse near the one survivor, but since I’d made the unfortunate mistake of weeding and so had no convenient leaf-shrouds available, I left it there, intending to come back and dispose of it later.
I went inside, and then I saw her: the Mama Bunny. She seemed to be nursing the remaining baby, which restored the severely eroded heartwarming aspect of the Bunny Garden. “Look, Paul!” I called to my husband, and together we watched the sweet nurturing through our front window.
Then Mama Bunny hopped slightly to the side, and…
“Paul,” I whispered, horrified, “I think she’s EATING that bunny corpse!”
Sure enough, when I went back out after her departure, the sad little remains were gone and the remaining bunny peered at me dolefully from its grassy nest. It hopped into a clump of chives and huddled there.
The next day, it was gone. I’m hoping it departed under its own power, as opposed to being a final Mama Snack.
The parent bunnies are still regular visitors to our yard. Generally, I’m fond of them—they’re well-mannered guests who prefer eating weeds to eating garden products—but since then, I haven’t been able to look at them without wondering which one the infanticidal bunny cannibal is. Their gleaming dark eyes, once so adorable, now seem to reflect rays of murder.
I do have to admit, though, that on days when Sage is particularly whiny, I’m not totally without sympathy for Cannibal Bunny Mama.