The Easter Bunny will hop into his big weekend on Sunday. Although no one sees him at work delivering baskets, take a look sometime for rabbits in the wild – in the yard, on a roadside, by the beach, and maybe even under a bird feeder for scraps at night.
The History cable channel’s website reminds readers that although the Easter Bunny’s origins are not defined, the rabbit’s symbolism of fertility and new life dates to ancient times and that a few sources ascribe the “mythical mammal” arriving stateside with German immigrants in the 1700s who settled in Pennsylvania. Children would build nests for a hare to lay colored eggs, which has since morphed into chocolate and other gifts.
Rabbits can be seen year round around here, and although they might remain off the radar, they’re part of the circle of life that Mother Nature nourishes. Two naturalists – Matt Cuskelly, who has spent three years among the animal keepers of Brookgreen Gardens’ Lowcountry Zoo, and Ann Malys Wilson, longtime interpretive ranger at Myrtle Beach State Park – shared some tidbits about these herbivores and their quiet, often unseen existence.
Cuskelly credited the Clemson University Extension 4-H Department for widening his knowledge about rabbits, and Wilson also researched their lifestyle. Both brought up the two types that live in coastal South Carolina: Eastern cottontail and marsh rabbits.
Mindful of presents given at this time of year, Cuskelly also reiterated that giving baby rabbits as pets requires altering one’s home and that they require just as much work and care as a dog or cat, and maybe more especially with “a fragile backbone” that can be broken easily. He also stressed the availability of rabbits that end up in rescue shelters.