"Excuse, please - do you know what kind these are?"
He had the cute toymaker accent, not the scary ark-of-the-covenant-seeker accent.
"They're Black-tailed Jackrabbits" I replied with a smile of my own.
"Sorry - but are they not Hares?" He asked quizzically.
"No worries," said I, understanding. "Yes - they are Hares - not Rabbits. Some scientists call them Desert Hares, but us Americans like silly names. These hares are named after a popular animal of the old west - the donkey," I rambled.
I realized then that his wife was likely not German, and was trying to work it out, so I sheepishly added: "They were originally called Jackass Rabbits for their ears..."
She laughed, rattled off some excellent German while making bunny-ears and then touching her bum, and her man started laughing too. She thanked me in English sans accent, they waved, and meandered down the trail giggling like granny & grandpa Beavis 'n Butthead. Too cute.
The guy had a point though. Jackrabbits aren't rabbits. Rabbits are the small, fluffy Lagomorphs that live in burrows and bear their young blind, hairless & helpless. Jackrabbits, as hares, live life on the run in the sun, and birth their wide-eyed, bushy-tailed & ready-to-go pups under a shrub on the way. They're born to be wild, not bred to be dinner. In fact, the two are so different they can't interbreed - hares have 24 chromosomes and domestic rabbits but 22.
Which is why the pair of wild "rabbits" we've recently started seeing around our Mariposa place is so perplexing. Because they very much seem to be acting like a mated pair, but one is our local California big-eared, buck-toothed fave, the Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus:
Jack primping for Diane
And the other a wild yet sophisticated, gray and white (and way too cute) Feral Domestic European Rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus:
I've watched them hang out on multiple occasions. Chasing across fields. Nipping at each other, as they roll around in the grass and jump over one another's backs. Snuggling. Lying in the shade. Playing around in the back seat of Jacky's car. No - wait - that's the song.
Where one goes, the other follows. Jack is way faster (he can hit 40 mph), but he always waits for Diane. He's also much more skittish of people. But he always waits for Diane. Perhaps her hooking up with him is why she's surviving? He's showing her what to eat and how to avoid the coyotes and bobcats and cougars and hawks and owls and... I wonder if she's instinctively made a burrow or if she ranges free and sleeps under the stars with Jack?
Diane checking me out while Jack waits for her
Or maybe they're just a modern, hip, progressive couple that doesn't care about species OR genus. Makes me feel kinda bad for going all paparazzi on them...
"Hey Diane babe - that bogus dude is totally gawking at us again..."
"I know Jack my dear - just politely ignore him."
"Yeah, yeah, but like, just cause we're an inter-genus couple doesn't mean it's ok for them, to like, stare at us all the time! It's soooooo epically rude Diane. Oooohh - there's some tasty clover heads over here, babe."
"Be right there Jack darling."
Just two American kids doing the best that they can.
Some more jackrabbits & brush rabbits I've caught on digital:
The one-eyed Jack pose
The Albrecht Durer pose
Does he see me?
Jackrabbits and Brush Rabbits foraging together for safety
The Jackrabbit Conspiracy
Two Jackrabbits on a trail run
A freaky camera-captivated Jackrabbit
A Jackrabbit stopping to smell the lilies
And now for something completely different -
Arthur: Where could we find this cave, O Tim?And we all know how this ended - with tears and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch of course.
Tim: Follow. But! Follow only if ye be men of valour, for the entrance to this cave is guarded by a creature so foul, so cruel, that no man yet has fought with it and lived! Bones of a full fifty men lie strewn about its lair. So, brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth.
Arthur: What an eccentric performance.
Tim: There he is!
Arthur: What, behind the rabbit?
Tim: It IS the rabbit!
Arthur: You silly sod!
Arthur: You got us all worked up!
Tim: Well, that's no ordinary rabbit! That's the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on!
Robin: You tit! I soiled my armor I was so scared!
Tim: Look, that rabbit's got a vicious streak a mile wide! It's a killer!
Galahad: Get stuffed!
Tim: He'll do you up a treat, mate.
Galahad: Oh, yeah?
Robin: You mangy Scots git!
Tim: I'm warning ya!
Robin: What's he do, nibble your bum?
Tim: He's got huge, sharp-- eh-- he can leap about-- look at the bones!
Arthur: Go on, Bors. Chop his head off!
Bors: Right! Silly little bleeder. One rabbit stew comin' right up!