Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dust-Bathing Beauties

Among the photos from the 2nd round at the Mono County pygmy rabbitat were several serendipitous series of pygmies rolling and dust-bathing in front of the cam trap.

But in round 3 the Brachylagus bunnies went full-on dust-bath crazy.

The cam captured 18 different dust baths in 4 weeks in August, generating over 100 photos.

Heat? Dryness? Seasonality of fleas and mites?

dust-bathing bunny
Sub-adult pygmy rabbit enjoying a dust-bath at 10:25pm

dust-bathing bunny
And 2 days later at 4:30am

And while they bathe at various times, morning baths after sunrise seem to be the most popular.

Perhaps for sand warmth and/or dryness.

dust-bathing bunny
Different adult at 9:05am

dust-bathing bunny
Sub-adult 3 days later at 9:10am

At first glance I thought the Sub-adult Brachy was doing all the bathing. But once I had time for proper editing and photo-forensics, I found that the photos show 3 different pygmy rabbits using the same bath bowl - the Sub-adult, the Lead Brachy, and another large adult from the "end of the sage row" that may be a female. Perhaps Mom Brachy?

Showing the dust bath bowls are communal.

On top of that, the behavior may also be about scent-marking. Several other mammal species visited the bath bowl and sniffed around...

kangaroo rat
Kangaroo rat in the bowl

chipmunk
Chipmunk

sniffing juvenile jackrabbit
Juvenile black-tailed jackrabbit

And other pygmies also stopped to sniff the area without indulging in a bath.

sniffing pygmy rab
Pygmy rabbit checking out the dust bath bowl

sniffing pygmy rab
Different adult pygmy visiting bowl 2 days later

sniffing pygmy rab

stick in the bath

Uh-oh.

Note that the sniffing about knocked a chunk of wood into the bowl. (or is that a Baby Ruth bar?)

But the next morning, the same adult "Mom" Brachy takes care of it.

clean up crew

clean up crew
"It's no big deal"

clean up crew
Moving the chunk of wood with her/his mouth

clean up crew

clean up crew

clean bath
Clean bowl

Showing the location of the dust bath bowl is significant, too.

Just any ole spot won't do.

Sand quality? Or, because of the scent-marking? Hmmmm...

dust-bathing bunny

dust-bathing bunny

dust-bathing bunny

dust-bathing bunny

dust-bathing bunny
"Ahhhh... All prettied up and ready for the day"

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