Born in a flower pot: a cozy home for brood of baby bunnies
Jeanne Smith of Detroit Lakes has been volunteering to plant and water the big flower planters that decorate Lincoln Park Assisted Living by St. Mary's in Detroit Lakes for about eight years now.
"It's just something me and a couple of other ladies enjoy," she said.
But one planter in particular has been testing her green thumb since this spring, as the flowers and plants have been dying, forcing her to re-plant.
Then on Wednesday, she found out why.
"I was watering the planter, when I saw this thing come up that was just drenched with water," she said, "and I thought it must be a mouse or a rat or something."
Smith went and sat down, watching the planter.
After time had passed, she went back and looked again.
"It had dried off a little bit, so then I could see these little ears..." said Smith.
Her "rat" was actually a baby bunny.
Smith recruited a couple of other ladies from the facility, and as they all gathered around the big flower pot, they quickly realized that there were actually six baby bunnies -- all so young they didn't even have their eyes open.
All cuddled together and half wedged into the soil underneath the shade of the flowers, the bunnies all laid, periodically twitching.
Smith says "word got around" and soon residents were making a point of seeing the furry sextuplets.
"I told my little grandkids when they came last night, 'I've got some bunnies growing in a pot outside, do you want to come and see?'" she laughed.
And although there didn't seem to be a mother bunny around during the day, Smith says there have been sightings of a big bunny around there in the very early morning hours.
"So she must be feeding them at night or something," said Smith.
According to information on rabbithabit.org, mother rabbits generally stay away from their babies during the day, as to not attract predators to them. They will venture back late at night to feed and again in the very early morning hours.
And although some of the residents are now expressing a little concern for the baby bunnies (as there are also dogs and cats in that area) experts say the best thing humans can do is leave baby bunnies alone so that their mother will keep coming back to feed them.
If the little cottontails survive, they will likely be jumping out of the flower pot and into the big, bad world in about four weeks.
As for Smith, she says there's no need to let the flowers die either; she'll still be making her daily rounds to water the flowers and just by default, bathe the bunnies.