I was out at the farm last week to help with shearing. While getting the sheep down from out the back of the farm, I saw what looked a bit like a miniture hippo lying in the grass. Not far away, was a second one.
|the mystery creature|
My first thought was that a ewe must have aborted. It is the right time of year, the ewes are pregnant with the first of the lambs due in about a month. Twins are common and abortions do occur occasionally. So it was possible. I've seen one once before - a bald rat-like creature lying dead in the grass. But something wasn't quite right with that theory... This was the boys' paddock! And these guys had little well formed paws (an aborted lamb would have little hooves, not paws).
Intrigued, I came back later to look at them more closely. I soon discovered a total of five of these little creatures. Far too many for a sheep, so that was definitely ruled out. But what were they?
We wondered, perhaps they were rabbits or maybe premature kittens?
A look inside the mouth revealed little rodent teeth...
To me, the ears seemed rather rounded for a rabbit, but the evidence was increasingly looking like that was what they were. I was just about to return home, but I decided to wander around the nearby area to see if there were anymore. When out of the reeds dashed a hare, and bounded away up and over the hill. I took a closer look where the hare had come out from, and found something of a nest under a reed bush.
Hares nest above ground, they don't burrow like rabbits. So this made some sense, and led me to believe the babies I found were hares. From some subsequent research, it appears the babies were born full term. It is possible they had been born alive, but soon froze to death on the cold frosty morning. But a mystery still remains. Why were they born out in the open, instead of in the nest?
|Such beautiful little babies|