Black bunnies - melanistic black rabbits in the wild
Each night last week BBC1's early evening magazine programme The One Show featured a segment filmed at Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. During the report on Wednesday's programme we were shown an orphaned wild baby rabbit that just happened to be jet-black in colour. The reporter, Mike Dilger, claimed that such melanistic rabbits were "one in a million".
Well, for the past 10 years or so I have been seeing wild black rabbits in and around Didcot, Oxfordshire, where I live. At first I thought it was the same individual I was seeing over and over, but then I started seeing them in other locations locally. I have on occasion seen two or three at the same time, and have sighted both adults and babies with this condition. I estimate that in total I have seen between 20 and 30 such individuals over the last 10 years.
So, if such black bunnies are really "one in a million", does that mean they are all concentrated into this one small area of Oxfordshire? Somehow I very much doubt it. I would like to throw this question open to the readers of the CFZ bloggo and ask for black rabbit sightings from around the country, just to get a more realistic idea of how widespread this phenomenon is.
Are these black rabbits becoming more commonplace? Does anyone remember seeing such rabbits in the wild 20, 30 or more years ago?
I attach two photographs I took of a black rabbit in a field in East Hagbourne, near Didcot, on 20 July 2010.