Monday, January 19, 2009

Swamp rabbits

We see this a lot in the woods...



I always wondered why rabbits climbed up on top of things (stumps, logs, rocks) to deposit their scat.



It wasn't until I started writing this post, though, that I learned something interesting.

Apparently, only Swamp rabbits do this.



I was aware of Swamp rabbits (Sylvilagus aquaticus) before, but hadn't really thought they'd be here.

There's bottomland, but it's not really what I'd call swampy.

We've never seen rabbits swimming.

But elevated poo platforms don't lie.



To detect the presence of Swamp rabbits in areas without suitable "latrines", you can make your own!

Now I'm curious how widespread this type of rabbit is. Let me know if you've seen this rabbit sign in your area!

22 comments:

Pablo said...

Wasn't President Carter attacked by a swimming rabbit while fishing one day (the President was fishing, not the rabbit)?

Rurality said...

Yeah I kept running into that story when googling "Swamp rabbit"! I think the rabbit in question wasn't so much attacking, as just trying to get into the boat.

robin andrea said...

I've never seen rabbit scat on top of anything, so this is a big surprise to me. I love when I learn something new, and today, it's elevated poo platforms!

Floridacracker said...

I have seen that. Now I will be looking for it of course.

caroline said...

I only wish the deer and rabbits who pass through our yard were as gentlemanly/ladylike as yours! We are fertilized practically up to the front porch.
Caroline at 44N 103W

Annie in Austin said...

That's weirdly interesting, Rurality. Supposedly there are rabbits in some parts of Austin but I've never run into one in 9 1/2 years.
The author of the paper seems to think this behavior is some kind of social signaling. I wonder if the rabbits hope that elevated evidence is less likely to be found by a predator tracking with nose to the ground?
Or maybe these rabbits have developed a sense of design and are just trying to pull the nest together.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Dani said...

I don't think I've ever seen this rabbit before, but I'll keep an eye out now.

Rurality said...

RA, there were not that many rabbits where we used to live, so I just thought all rabbits did this!

FC, I think you may have Marsh Rabbits in your area too... not sure.

Caroline, I think the dog helps in that regard. :)

Annie, I don't think they really know what the purpose is for sure... They just know they do it.

Dani, I'm sure we have both here, but I never noticed a difference in the two types. Though I may have just mistaken the smaller ones (Cottontails) for juveniles of the larger ones (Swamp rabbits). Now that makes me wonder if they ever interbreed.

countrypeapie said...

Fascinating. I find rabbit scat in the yard all the time, but I've never noticed it on top of anything. I'll be on the lookout now.

Ericka said...

hmm. closely related to the jackalope?

Pamela said...

I remember the swamp rabbit attack on the former president. ha ha

I don't think we have them here.

Rurality said...

Well blooger ate my comment! Hmph.

CPP, I'm especially interested to see if these are widespread here in this county - let me know if you see this sign.

Erika, if you're asking if I'm making it up, I'm not! It's strange but true. :)

Pamela, I remember Billy Beer, but not the rabbit...

Elizabeth said...

Gorgeous pics! Even if they are of poo ;)

Wren said...

Swamp rabbits? Are you sure you're not making this up?

No, of course not. But now my friends and family have one more things to laugh at - me looking for elevated bunny potties.

The Country Experience said...

I too will be on the lookout for it now. Of all the rabbit scat I've seen, I don't think any of it was elevated.... but now I'll be double-checking.

Rurality said...

Elizabeth, my sister in law is always giving me a hard time for taking pictures of poo. I keep explaining that they are CLUES, but she thinks it's hilarious. :)

Wren, I see you know what I'm saying. Oh well, let them laugh!

TCE, definitely let me know. I'm curious if they're just here by the creek, or if they're all over.

swamp4me said...

We have marsh rabbits here in the swamp, but no swamp rabbits. Go figure.
Keep up the good work -- keep posting poo pix!!

Maya said...

Too Funny! My dog must be part swamp rabbit. Whenever we walk him he strives to find the highest point on which to make a deposit. Sometimes a shrub, sometimes a tall patch of grass and sometimes a stump. I wonder what is going on in their heads...?

lisa said...

Very interesting! Never heard of a swamp rabbit before...wonder if that's what they modeled the Monty Python rabbit after?

Eric said...

I live in Cedar Park TX just north of Austin and believe I have seen one (I have pictures too). Thought this baby bunny was trapped at the bottom of some large steps next to a lake- I went to see if I could catch him and "save him", but he didn't need it. He jumped right in the water and swam away. I had never heard of them before.

jimmygringo said...

I visit my brother in East Texas in the Piney Woods area and often see rabbit pellets on top of fairly fresh
cut stumps. I am not sure but propose that rabbits may feel vulnerable when doing the number two doo so they like to be elevated above terrain level for a visual also the top of a stump is a firm surface making it easier for a quick hop escape (as opposed to being on a lower dirt soft surface with an obscured view of predators)

Jimmy Gringo said...

Furthermore, it is kind of swampy in the some of the nearby areas, so if in fact these are swamp rabbits, they must feel right at home on a protruding stump. If you spend a good time of your life swimming around in a mud hole, a log or stump is your safe haven. And even though the stumps I have observed have been on "dry land", when nature calls you do your doo mostly out of comfortable habit. Like closing the bathroom door.