Good dog! Canines are well-known for dramatic rescues of people
who get lost in the woods or who are trapped under avalanches or
fallen buildings. This is the heartwarming story of a dog that
followed the instincts of its search-and-rescue bloodline to save
the lives of … two newborn jackrabbits.
Good dog! Canines are well-known for dramatic rescues of people who get lost in the woods or who are trapped under avalanches or fallen buildings. This is the heartwarming story of a dog that followed the instincts of its search-and-rescue bloodline to save the lives of … two newborn jackrabbits.
During a lull in February storms, Gilroy resident Tom Schatzel took advantage of the pleasant weather and went for an early morning walk in the fields near his home with his companion German shepherd, “Scout.” What a surprise when Scout trotted back, carefully carrying a tiny 4-ounce rabbit in its mouth! Scout placed the rabbit at his owner’s feet, then ran off again and brought back a second little bunny, wet and cold from the prior day’s rain. Tom asked Scout, “Where did you find these?” and the dog led him to the exact spot where the babies had been discovered. Fortunately, there were no more bunnies left out in the cold.
Jackrabbit mothers hide their babies, called leverets, in a shallow depression or flattened nest of grass and return twice a day, at dawn and dusk, to nurse. It’s not known whether these two jackrabbits were orphaned, but due to being exposed to such inclement weather, it’s very likely that they would have died if not rescued.
Tom brought the jackrabbits to his mother, Nelly, who dried them off, warmed them up and then drove them to the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center in Morgan Hill. For the first four to six weeks of their stay at WERC, the babies must be hand-fed special formula twice a day, until they’re weaned and eating natural greens and dried grasses. Due to their unique nutritional requirements, weaning a jackrabbit in captivity is a difficult process for a wildlife rehabilitator.
Hopefully, by mid-April the two young hares (jackrabbits are not really rabbits at all, but hares that are born fully furred and with their eyes open) will be released back near their original habitat, where they will be able to zoom at speeds of up to 40 mph, zigging and zagging to dodge such predators as bobcats, owls, hawks, snakes and coyotes. Whether they can outrace a tortoise is another story.
Springtime is baby season. You can help wild babies stay alive: Keep your pet cats indoors and be sure to check the lawn or fields before you begin mowing, rototilling or weed-whacking. Not only may you save the life of baby bunnies, but also those birds that build nests and hide their young in the tall grasses.