Animal Photos - Index
261. Pigeon Adopts Bunnies
Pigeon adopts baby rabbits
Rusana Philander, Die Burger
Cape Town - A pigeon at the Karmanel party farm at Joostenberg Vlakte near Kraaifontein is the proud "mother" of seven rabbits.
The pigeon recently took the rabbits under her wing when the two rabbit mothers neglected their babies.
Amanda Nel, owner of Karmanel, said the pigeon has been keeping the rabbits warm for the past three weeks.
"The pigeon 'moved in' with them after the rabbits were born. The rabbits and pigeon live in the same cage.
"Rabbits do not make good mothers and the pigeon took over this task from the rabbits. I think she believes the baby rabbits are her own."
Nel said it was quite possible because the rabbits and pigeon have been living together "in harmony" for the past few years.
"It is incredible to see how these two species have formed a tight family unit. Because of the pigeon mother, the rabbits will grow up because she looks after them all the time. The strong bond between the rabbits and pigeon cannot be broken.
"The pigeon has become a mother to the seven rabbits and protects them as if they are her own. She never lets them out of her sight."
Two bird experts said it was the first time they heard of a bird adopting rabbits.
Hilton Pillay, a bird expert of Strandfontein, attributed this behaviour to the mothering instinct of the pigeon.
"Because it is breeding season for birds, they are reacting to this instinct."
Doug Harebottle of the unit for bird demographics at the University of Cape Town said some rabbits neglected their young, but this particular situation was exceptional particularly because rabbits are mammals.
- Die Burger