12.05.2015

NATURE’S TRICKSTER

Date: July 2015
Place: Nesbyen, Norway

Isn’t this little guy the cuteness itself or what?
As the heroes of the previous blog posts, I have encountered these adorable animals this summer when I visited Langedrag Nature Park in Nesbyen, Norway. But, in contrast to other inhabitants of the Park, who stayed obediently in their designated sites, these little mammals were practically everywhere.
Indeed, rabbits are very common in Europe, although more than half of their global population inhabits North America. They are part of the Leporidae family and the Lagomorpha order that also includes hares and pikas. Rabbits are not rodents, whom they are often confused with, as they have two sets of incisor teeth instead of a single pair found in rodents.
The most obvious characteristic of rabbits is their long years. This is an adaptation for hearing and detecting predators, such as foxes and badgers. Eyes also play an important role here: these mammals have the overview of nearly 360 degrees. They even sleep with their eyes open in order to detect any sudden movement. When the threat is spotted, rabbits use their strong and springy hind legs to escape as fast as possible. When captured, it can also use its legs to deliver powerful kicks in the face of a predator.
One curious feature of rabbits is related to their digestion. They are herbivores eating grass and weeds, which are rich in hard-to-digest cellulose. In order to thoroughly digest it and extract sufficient nutrients, these mammals practice the behavior known as coprophagy. It means that they eat certain kind of their own droppings, which allows cellulose to be processed much better in their hindguts.
Rabbits occupy a notable place in human agriculture, culture, and literature. Since the times of the Roman Empire they have been domesticated and bred for meat, fur, and later as pets. In mythology and literature rabbit is often depicted as the symbol of fertility and rebirth. It is also given the image of a trickster, who uses his witty mind and great intellect to survive and come victorious from diverse challenges that life throws at him.

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