A young Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) eating the dandelion leaves in a backyard garden in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada.
Baby Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Purchase)
-click to enlarge-
On occasion I do not have to venture too far for some wildlife photography. Earlier this year I photographed a young Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) rabbit munching on dandelion leaves about 20 feet from the house. I’d noticed this small rabbit emerging from the lavender bushes a few times, but I was always across the yard and wasn’t in any position to go get a camera and come back. So on this occasion I saw him active there, and decided to actually treat this like I would other wildlife. I got my camera gear together, walked outside and, sat down, and waited. One of the ways to ensure that you aren’t disturbing wildlife is to have them come to you, or stay put and see how they react. Not only do you avoid freaking them out or disturbing their routine, you get more natural photos at the same time – and often they’ll come closer if they don’t feel threatened. The most agitated this one got were a few apparently dirty looks in my direction. This method is not something to try with potentially dangerous animals though such as bears, moose, cougars, or killer rabbits.
Young Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Purchase)
-click to enlarge-
After about 5-10 minutes the young rabbit emerged and after looking me over for a while, started eating dandelion leaves in the lawn. I was surprised how many leaves this rabbit ate – I photographed it for about 15 minutes and it never stopped vacuuming up dandelion leaves the entire time. Young rabbits leave the nest when they are rather small, and I’ve seen ones smaller than this navigating their way through the yard in search of new lands to conquer. I guess once they are a certain size all there is left to do is find a nice quiet spot, stay away from predators, and eat as many leaves as you can in order to grow larger. This cottontail was only about 15cm (6 inches) long though the adults around here tend to be around 44cm (17 inches) long. I’ve never had them eat anything I am growing in the garden (that I know of), but there are also plenty other plants around to much on in the all you can eat dandelion buffet.
I shot a number of photographs together in a sequence which nicely formed a very short timelapse of the consumption of a dandelion leaf which you can view below (on Vimeo).
For more wildlife photographs visit my Animals and Wildlife Gallery in the Image Library.