Outdoor Science Adventure: Cotton-Tail Rabbits

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Sometimes a nature study opportunity just presents itself!  Two days ago we discovered that a cotton-tailed rabbit had delivered a litter of 8 bunnies in the raised garden outside our condo!  Ever since, we have been visiting, observing, and feeding our fuzzy new neighbors.  What a perfect time to do a cotton-tail rabbit nature study!

DSCN3958Here’s what we did:

We read pages 215-219 in Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study.  I don’t read the entire section to my kids because it wouldn’t hold their attention.  I go through with a pencil and underline the parts I want to read.

After that, we went down to observe the bunnies.

  • Pay attention to the rabbit’s ears.  What do you think it’s thinking?
  • Take a look at the nostrils.  Why do you think it wiggles so?  Do you think they have a good sense of smell?
  • Look at the placement of they eyes.  Why do you think they’re located where they are?  Do rabbits blink?
  • Look at the hind legs.  Why do rabbits need such strong hind legs?
  • How does a rabbit protect itself?  What is meant by “freezing”?

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The girls made a few sketches of the rabbits.  We didn’t use a printable for this because it was super last minute, and we didn’t have a chance to print anything out.  Instead, the kids made a scrapbook page to paste her sketches onto.  She wrote a few interesting facts that she learned about.  Here are some of the things we learned about rabbits that we didn’t know before:

  • Bunnies leave their coverlet at 3 weeks old, at which time they’re on their own.
  • Rabbits use their strong hind legs to jump up to 8 feet (which would explain how they got into our high-off-the-ground planter)
  • Predators for baby rabbits include; hawks, owls, snakes, and red squirrels. RED SQUIRRELS!
  • Rabbits don’t dig their own burrows.  They move in to deserted burrows of woodchucks or skunks.  The mother rabbit makes a coverlet using grass and her own fur.  In the case of our baby bunnies, they mom didn’t use a burrow.  She just made a coverlet out of mulch.  City rabbit!

The Handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com is, to me, the holy grail of nature study.  She did a great nature study about rabbits back in January of 2009.  Well, as you know, nature study never goes out of style!  The info in still relevant ;)  Check it out!

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The bunnies came right up to our “observation window” to peek in at the girls.

Have you done a nature study about rabbits?  Post a link to your blog post about it, below!

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