Cottontail rabbit at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

What is Los Angeles climate called?

I started my work with Los Angeles Audubon last Summer in 2018 and got a chance to see the behavior of rabbits at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. One of the task I did at the park was watering the native plants. In Los Angeles we have what is called a Medditerranean climate which simply means hot dry summers and cold wet winters.  Since our Summer’s are terribly hot and water supply is very scarce, rabbits don’t have much of a water source to survive from. What they do to access water is eat our native plants. Our native plants have adapted to this cimate and have become drought resistant which is why they won’t die during the Summer. They go through a process called dormancy which is when a plant stops growing to conserve energy. Some of the plant’s parts may die off like the leaves but the stem and roots are thriving with life. Rabbits are smart enough to know which plants to eat that hold the most moisture. Another unique thing they do is eat their own feces. Yes, you heard it right, they eat it right as it comes out! To be honest, they are herbivors so it’s really just plant matter but it does sound pretty gross. They have two different types of droppings: one hard pellet and one soft one. The soft one is still digestible and is filled with nutrients that were not fully processed the first time. After that digestion the hard pellet is what is left which is no longer digestible.

Summer 2018

During Summer 2018, we experienced such a harsh drought that the rabbits were forced to go after our irrigation system! The irrigation system takes hours to build depending on how big the area is and it’s not cheap. We use a drip irrigation system that we like to call spaghetti because of the shape of the tubing. One day we noticed that the plants weren’t getting watered even though we turned the irrigation on. We took a closer look and saw that the spaghetti was chewed on. We immeditley knew it was the rabbits so we replaced everything again. A few days passed and again the irrigation wasn’t working because the rabbits got to it again. We tried putting some spice on the spaghetti so the rabbits won’t chew but that didn’t stop them. It just made the water a bit spicy which I’m sure some rabbits pallette gladly apprieciated. We thought about putting a water bowl out for them but then that would disturb the natural cycle and make them dependent on our water. We finally decided to give up and hand water instead. I would have never known what happens to rabbits during the summer if I didn’t experiecne this last summer. I hope that this year the rabbits stick to the plants and droppings before having to chew on our irrigation system.

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