Cottontails

Rabbits That Climb Trees? And Watch Great Sunsets?

The Desert Cottontail of the American West will climb small desert trees to escape predators or just to survey the landscape for new plants. They have their own fascinating geometry. They run in a zigzag pattern to elude predators. Their prints form the number 7 in the sand. Desert cottontail's close cousins, brush rabbits, create a maze of pathways that lead to the best produce in their "gardens," the small territories that they stake out for themselves.

One of the desert cottontail's favorite plants is the creosote bush. For more, go to the Creosote Page.

2015 Update: We observed the very similar Western brush rabbit in a very different habitat, inches from a perilous cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. After scanning for the absence of hawks, this little bunny darted out from its cliff rock home to mow a patch of lawn grass, right outside the patio door of our rental house. Its favorite time of day for gardening seemed to be dusk and dawn, when sprinkler water provided a nice drink.

We loved watching this tiny brown animal outlined against the dramatic view of the continental United States joining with the Pacific. As the fog rolled in and the sunlight faded out, the bunny would step back to its rock home.

The Quest

You can observe desert cottontails in the Mojave Desert spanning California and Nevada. On hot days, they are most likely to be active at dawn and dusk.

We were lucky to see the coastal brush rabbit in the garden at our rental property in Cayucos, CA. They are known to be active in the Elfin Forest in Los Osos, CA.

Happy Easter!

Rabbits are a symbol of the mixing of pagan beliefs with the arrival and strengthening influence of Christianity in Europe in the Middle Ages. Pagan beliefs associated hares or rabbits with a goddess of fertility. Rabbits also became linked with the symbol of the moon; the full moon always returns and rabbits always populate the landscape. Interestingly, in an entirely different mythology, that of Buddhism, rabbits can be seen in the shadow of the moon.

In British folklore, hares could generate themselves directly from the earth, springing from the soil itself during a full moon.

In German folklore, the connection with Christian belief becomes more clear. On Holy Thur/home/users/web/b1160/apo.sherr2/ntay, when the Last Supper is observed, hares are said to lay eggs colored red to symbolize the blood of Christ. On the night before Easter, they lay multi-colored eggs to symbolize the resurrection and Christ breaking out of the tomb.

Apart from the connection with Easter, rabbits are a meaningful symbol to me because of their importance in classics in children's literature. Beatrix Potter's mischievous Peter Rabbit continues to appeal to children. In another classic, a Velveteen Rabbit, a stuffed animal that has become shabby and forgotten after years of play, yearns to become real. Due to the magic of rabbits, combined with our imagination, the velveteen rabbit frolics in the garden at the end of the story.