There are a lot of rabbits in our neighborhood. They're a bit of a nuisance, as they'll eat our flowers from time to time, but overall, it's not that bad. In fact, it's kind of nice to know that at almost any time of the day you care to choose, you can step outside and see two or three of the buggers loping around or munching on something.
There have also been a lot of snakes in our neighborhood this year. I've personally carried off/removed/extracted five in the last month. Nothing poisonous, but the neighbors all seem to want them gone, so I do my duty, and besides, catching them is kind of fun. They've certainly cut down on the mouse population.
One night I was on my way home, when I got a call from Joy. She said there was a big snake in the cul-de-sac, and how far away was I? It turned out that I was less than a minute down the hill. As I approached our house, I saw about ten people in a bunch, pointing into the grass. I parked and got out.
The snake in question this time looked to be a black rat snake, about five feet long and maybe two and a half inches in diameter at its thickest part. I sent Maddie inside to retrieve the robot grabby arm.
Not that I couldn't catch it with my bare hands -- I've done so in the past -- but snakes usually carry salmonella on their skin and other nasty crap in their mouths. A bite wouldn't injure me, but it would bleed and freak everyone out and possibly get funky snake-mouth bacteria into the puncture, and I didn't really want to deal with that.
RGA in hand, I approached the snake. As I did, one of the neighborhood rabbits came up to and started threatening the snake! Unless you count the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, bunnies usually don't threaten anything. In fact, seeing one do it is akin to watching ninety pound man put down a sixteen pound hamburger in one sitting. Which is just weird. Crazy freaking rabbit. The snake wasn't nearly big enough to eat the bunny, but it was big enough and dumb enough to at least try, which would have entailed crushing the life out the furry fellow. There was a rabid cat reported a mile or two away recently, and I wondered if this guy wasn't on his way down the same frothy road. Like I said, crazy rabbit.
When I went after the snake, the bunny took off. It took a while to finally get ahold of the snake, as I was trying to not hurt him and not let him escape (I had my reputation in front of the neighbors to uphold, you know). Finally, I got him, and Maddie and I walked half a mile down the road and to toss him over a grassy hillside. It was one of those brutally hot, muggy days, and people were lounging on their porches. As we passed them with the snake, they took notice. We had several gaggles of Indian kids and adults who were very interested and asked lots of questions. I explained how to identify Pennsylvania's poisonous snakes (catlike eyes), etc., and let some of the kids touch him, as long as they knew to wash their hands right away (salmonella again).
One guy took our picture, which, okay man, it's just a snake.
But still, I wondered about that crazy rabbit.
A couple of weeks later, it became clear to me, and it was one of those "duh" things that you should have realized immediately. Home from work, I stepped out of the car. Normal bunny activity: one in the neighbor's yard, one across the cul-de-sac. And there, almost invisible in the neighbor's tall grass: one baby bunny, so small that it looked like a toy. I zipped inside and got the girls. As cute as the thing was just sitting here, it was even cuter when it hopped. Wacky, crazy cute. So cute that you almost can't stand it. In fact, I am incapable of conveying this baby bunny's cuteness level to you: you would just have to see it for yourself. And there was the Mama Bunny (I'm assuming, of course), sitting at the ready, keeping a watchful eye as Bunny Jr. hopped about. Whenever the baby would get too far, the mom would move a bit so that he was back within her circle of comfort.
She was being a good Mama Bunny, just like she had been that day when she was ready to take on the snake.