Arlington appeared overrun with bunnies this weekend, and the nice spring weather probably has something to do with it.
- BUNNY! (Photo: TBD Staff)
While taking a trip to the country manse in Arlington this weekend, I registered a brownish blob in the periphery of my vision that appeared to have just hopped. A 90-degree turn and I was face to harelip with a medium-sized bunny, now frozen stock-still in a driveway. I approached a few feet and the animal unrooted itself and hopped toward a garage where it stopped again. It gave me a baleful lagomorph eye.
Later that afternoon, on a quest to get some tools out of a backyard shed, I turned a corner and Bamn! Bunny. This is the critter you see in the above photo. Like its brazen brother, it didn’t scamper away until I had approached within spitting distance. I hope that’s a fear response, and not a sign that the rabbits won’t be taking our crap anymore.
I counted Bunny No. 3 that night while exiting Spout Run to get onto the ramp to Key Bridge. Where are these guys all coming from? Is D.C. infested?
Not exactly, according to Marc Puckett, a small-game biologist at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Puckett says that the rabbit population in Virginia modulates year to year, but the long-term average has remained at about the same level. Now just happens to be when bunnies are out and about. “This is a very active time of year in general,” he says. “March and April are the peak months for seeing little babies.”
And the nice weather we had this weekend (hail excluded) might explain why Arlington appeared overrun. On cold days, rabbits are likely to hunker down in their “forms,” or depressions they make in the leaf cover that keeps the wind away. (Despite Bugs Bunny’s living arrangements, rabbits don’t go in holes unless they're chased, says Puckett.) But just like us, they like to stroll around on sunny, warm days, perhaps nibbling on some spring clover before going under a blackberry thicket to rut.
“The warm weather indeed might make them come out more, when these nice days come along and the vegetation is greening up,” he says.
Are you seeing scads of bunnies in your neighborhood? Drop a comment or e-mail.