Animal BOOK LOOK – Chapter 3 – Rabbits and Hares


Chapter 3

More about Rabbits and Hares


At sun-up the next morning Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare were on hand promptly for their next lesson. Mother Nature smiled as she saw the eager curiosity shining in their eyes. She didn’t wait for them to ask questions. “Yesterday,” said she, “I told you about your water-loving cousin, the Marsh Rabbit. You have another relative down there in the Sunny South who is almost as fond of the water. Some folks call him the Swamp Rabbit. Others call him the Swamp Hare. The latter is really the best name for him, because he is a true Hare. He lives in swamps instead of marshes, but he is a splendid swimmer and fond of the water. When he is chased by an enemy he makes for the nearest point or stream.”

“How big is he?” asked Jumper.

“Just about your size, Jumper, and perhaps a little bit heavier” replied Mother Nature. Because his hair lies much smoother than yours, you probably would look a little bit bigger if you were sitting beside him. As with his cousin, the Marsh Rabbit, the hair on his feet is thin. His toes are rather long and he can spread them widely, which is a great help in swimming. He doesn’t have to take to the water as his little cousin does, for he is a very good runner. However, he does take to it as the easiest way of getting rid of those who are chasing him. The Marsh Rabbit and the Swamp Hare are the only members of your family in all the Great World who are fond of the water and who are at home in it. Now, who shall I tell you about next?”

“Our biggest cousins,” cried Peter and Jumper together. “The ones you told us yesterday are bigger than Jumper,” added Peter. “It is hard to believe that there can be any much bigger than he.”

Mother Nature’s eyes twinkled. “It is often hard to believe things you can not see,” she said. “Compared with these other relatives, Jumper really isn’t big at all. He seems big to you, Peter, however if he should meet his cousin, Snow White the Arctic Hare, who lives way up in the Frozen North, I am quite sure Jumper would feel small. Snow White looks very much like Jumper in his winter coat, for he is all white save the tips of his ears, which are black.”

“Does he wear a white coat all year round?” asked Peter eagerly.

Arctic Hares illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“When he lives so far north that there is snow and ice for most of the year, he does,” replied Mother Nature. “And when he lives far enough south for the snow to disappear for a little while in the summer, he changes his white coat for one of gray.”

“How can he live so far north that the snow and ice seldom melt?” asked Peter, looking very much puzzled. “What can he find to eat?”

“Even way up there there is moss growing under the snow. And in the short summer other plants grow. During the long winter Snow White digs down through the snow to get these. He also eats the bark and twigs of little stunted trees. And yet as big as he is, you have a cousin who is still bigger, the biggest of all the family.”

“Who is he?” Jumper and Peter cried together.

“He is called White-tailed Jack,” replied Mother Nature. “And he lives chiefly on the great plains of the Northwest, though sometimes he is found in the mountains and forests. He is sometimes called the Prairie Hare. In winter his coat is white and in the summer it is a light brown. Summer or winter his tail is white, much like you Peter. It is because of this that he is called White-tailed Jack.”

“Is his tail as short as mine?” asked Peter eagerly.

Peter Rabbit and his very short tail- illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Mother Nature laughed right out. “No, Peter,” she replied. “It wouldn’t be called a long tail by any other animal, however for a member of your family it really is long, and when White-tailed Jack is running he switches it from side to side. His hind legs are very long and powerful, and he can make a single jump of twenty feet without half trying. Not even Old Man Coyote can catch him in a straightaway race. You may think Jumper’s ears are long, Peter, and yet they are short in comparison to the ears of White-tailed Jack. Not only are his ears long they are also very big. When he squats in his form and lays his ears back they reach way over his shoulders. Like the other members of the Hare family he doesn’t use holes in the ground or hollow logs. He trusts to his long legs and to his wonderful speed to escape from his predators. Among them are Howler the Wolf, Old Man Coyote, Eagles, Hawks and Owls. He is so big that he would make five or six of you, Peter.”

Peter drew a long breath. “It is dreadfully hard to believe that I can have a cousin as big as that,” he exclaimed. “Have I any other cousins anywhere near as big?”

Mother Nature nodded. “There are some others very like White-tailed Jack, only not quite as big,” she said. “They have long hind legs, and great ears, although their coats are different, and they live on the great plains farther south. Some of them live so far south that it is warm all the year round. One of these is Antelope Jack, whose home is in the Southwest.”

“Oh please tell us about him,” begged Peter.

“To begin with,” replied Mother Nature, “he is a member of the big Jack Rabbit or Jack Hare branch of your family. None of this branch should be called a Rabbit. All the members are first cousins to Jumper and are true Hares. All have big ears, long, rather thin necks, and long legs. Even their front legs are comparatively long. Antelope Jack is probably next in size to White-tailed Jack. Strange to say, although he lives where it is warm for most of the year, his coat is very largely white. His back is a yellowish-brown and so is his throat. His sides are white. The surprising thing about him is that he has the power of making himself seem almost all white. He can make the white hair spread out at will by means of some special little muscles which I have given him, so that the white of his sides at times almost seems to meet on his back. When he does this in the sun it makes flashes of white which can be seen a long way. By means of this Antelope Jack and his friends can keep track of each other when they are a long distance apart. There is only one other animal who can flash signals in this way, and that is the Antelope of whom I will tell you some other time. It is because Jack flashes signals in this way that he is called Antelope Jack. In his habits he is otherwise much like the other members of his family. He trusts to his long legs and his wonderful powers of jumping to keep him out of danger. He is not as well known as his commoner cousin, plain Jack Rabbit. Everybody knows Jack Rabbit.”

Jack Rabbit illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Peter shook his head. “I don’t,” said he very meekly.

“Then it is time you did,” replied Mother Nature. “If you had ever been in the Far West you would know him. Everybody out there knows him. He isn’t quite as big as Antelope Jack although he is still a big fellow. He wears a brownish coat much like Jumper’s, and the tips of his long ears are black. His tail is longer than Jumper’s, and when he runs he carries it down.”

“I don’t carry mine down,” Peter piped up.

Mother Nature laughed right out. “True enough, Peter, true enough,” she said. “You couldn’t if you wanted to. It isn’t long enough to carry any way other than up. Jack has more of a tail than you have, just as he has longer legs. My, how he can run! He goes with great bounds and about every tenth bound he jumps very high. This is so that he can get a good look around to watch out for predators.”

“Who are his natural predators?” asked Peter.

“Foxes, Coyotes, Hawks, Eagles, Owls, and Weasels,” replied Mother Nature. “In fact, he has about as many predators as you have.”

“I know I ought to keep away from that garden,” said Peter very meekly, “but you have no idea what a temptation it is. The things in that garden do taste so good.”

Now I guess you have learned sufficient about your long-legged cousins. I’ve a great deal to do, so skip along home, both of you,” said Mother Nature.

“If you please, Mother Nature, may we come again tomorrow?” asked Peter.

“And whatever for?” inquired Mother Nature. “Haven’t you learned enough about your family?”

“Yes,” replied Peter, “however there are lots and lots of things I would like to know about other animals. If you please, I would like to come to you every day. You see, the more I learn about my neighbors, the better able I will be to take care of myself and understand them as well.”

“All right, Mr. Curiosity,” replied Mother Nature good-naturedly, “come again tomorrow morning as I’m happy to share what I know.”

So Peter and Jumper politely bade her goodbye and started for their homes. Lipperty-lipperity-lip!

This Curious Capkin has created more P.L.A.Y. Ponderings just for you!

Following the prompts below draw, doodle, write, ponder, paint, color, and creatively capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. What do you think of rabbits swimming (Chapter 2) and rabbits playing in the snow? What do you see in your minds-eye when you try to picture them in the water or in the fluffy white crystals? Was this news to you and hard to picture?
  2. *Chapters 1-3 talk about various rabbits and the size of their ears. Of what use are large ears? How are the ears held when the rabbit is resting? running? Or when the rabbit is startled vs. checking for danger? Can you mime or act this out with your hands or draw it on a page?
  3. * Describe the eyes of a rabbit. Where are they positioned? Do you think a rabbit sleeps with their eyes open or closed? Does a rabbit wink?
  4. * What do most rabbits eat? What are they drawn to eat in warm summer like conditions vs. cold winter conditions?

For a review of this book and more beaver resources visit: HERE

If you find the work and vision of P.L.A.Y. supports you and your family on the life learning path, please pass it forward to friends and neighbors as a Simple Gift that keeps on giving.


❤ ❤ ❤ Thank You! ❤ ❤ ❤


Animal BOOK LOOK – Chapter 2 – Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare


Chapter 2

Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare


Hardly had jolly, round, red Mr. Sun thrown off his rosy blankets and begun his daily climb up in the blue, blue sky when Peter Rabbit and his cousin, Jumper the Hare, arrived at the place in the Green Forest where Peter had found Mother Nature the day before. She was waiting for them, ready to answer questions.

“I am so glad you are here,” she said. “Now before either of you ask any questions, I am going to ask some myself. Peter, what do you look like? Where do you live? What do you eat? I want to find out just how much you really know about yourself.”

Peter scratched one ear with a long hind foot and hesitated as if he didn’t know just how to begin. Mother Nature waited patiently. Finally Peter began rather timidly.

“Well,” he said, “the only way I know how I look is by the way the other members of my family look, for I’ve never seen myself. I suppose in a way I look like all the rest of the Rabbit family. I have long hind legs and short front ones. I suppose this is so I can make long jumps when I am in a hurry.”

Peter Rabbit – original art by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Mother Nature nodded, and Peter, taking this encouragement, continued. “My hind legs are stout and strong, and my front ones are lesser so. I guess this is because I do not have a great deal of use for them, except for running. My coat is a sort of mixture of brown and gray, more brown in summer and more gray in winter. My ears are longer for my size than are those of most animals, and really not very long after all, or not nearly as long for my size as my cousin Jumper’s are for his size. My tail is fluffy and short. It is so short that I carry it straight up. It is white like a little bunch of cotton, and I suppose that that is why I am called a Cottontail Rabbit, though I have heard that some folks call me a Gray Rabbit and others a Bush Rabbit.”

“I live in the dear Old Briar-patch and just love it. It is a mass of bushes and bramble-tangles and is the safest place I know of. I have cut little paths all through it just big enough for Mrs. Peter and myself. None of our predators can get at us there, excepting Shadow the Weasel or Billy Mink. I have a sort of nest there where I spend my time when I am not running about. It is called a form and I sit in it a great deal.”

Peter Rabbit’s home in the bramble-tangles in the meadow as seen in the snowy winter.

“In summer I eat clover, grass and other green things, and I just love to get over into Farmer Brown’s garden. In winter I have to take what I can get, and this is mostly bark from young trees, buds and tender twigs of bushes, and any green plants I can find under the snow. I can run fast for a short distance, however only for a short distance. That is why I like thick brush and bramble-tangles. There I can dodge. I don’t know any one who can dodge better! If Reddy Fox or Bowser the Hound surprises me away from the dear Old Briar-patch I run for the nearest hollow log or hole in the ground. Sometimes in summer I dig a hole for myself, although not often. It is much easier to use a hole somebody else has dug. When I want to signal my friends I thump the ground with my hind feet. Jumper does the same thing. And I almost forgot to say I don’t like water.”

Mother Nature smiled. “You are thinking of that cousin of yours, the Marsh Rabbit who lives way down in the Sunny South,” she said.

Peter admitted that he was. Jumper the Hare was interested all at once. You see, he had never heard of this cousin.

“That was a very good account of yourself, Peter,” said Mother Nature. “Now take a look at your cousin, Jumper the Hare, and tell me how he differs from you.”

Jumper the Hare, also known as the Northern or Varying Hare, in both his winter (right) and summer (left) coat. Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Peter took a long look at Jumper, and then, as before, scratched one ear with a long hind foot. “In the first place,” he said, “Jumper is considerably bigger than I. He has very long hind legs and his ears are very long. In summer he wears a brown coat and in the winter he is all white except for just the tips of his ears which are black. Because his coat changes so, he is called the varying Hare. He likes the Green Forest where the trees grow close together, especially those places where there are a great many young trees. He’s the biggest member of our family. I guess that’s all I know about Cousin Jumper.”

“That is very good, Peter, as far as it goes,” said Mother Nature. “I just have one correction to make. Jumper is not the biggest of his family.”

Both Peter and Jumper opened their eyes very wide with surprise. “Also,” continued Mother Nature, “you forgot to mention the fact that Jumper never hides in hollow logs and holes in the ground as you do. Can you explain why you don’t Jumper?”

“I wouldn’t feel safe there,” replied Jumper. “I depend on my long legs for safety, and the way I can dodge around trees and bushes. I suppose Reddy Fox may be fast enough to catch me in the open, and yet he can’t do it where I can dodge around trees and bushes. That is why I stick to the Green Forest. If you please, Mother Nature, what is this about a cousin who likes to swim?”

Mother Nature’s eyes twinkled. “We’ll get to that later on,” she said. “Now, each of you hold up a hind foot and tell me what difference you see.”

Peter and Jumper each held up a hind foot and each looked first at his own and then at the other’s. “They look to me very much alike, only Jumper’s is a lot longer and bigger than mine,” said Peter. Jumper nodded as if he agreed.

“Look a bit closer,” encouraged Mother Nature. “Do you see that Jumper’s foot is a great deal broader than yours, Peter, and that his toes are spread apart, while yours are close together?”

Peter and Jumper were surprised, for it was just as Mother Nature had said. Jumper’s foot really was quite different from that of Peter. Peter’s was narrow and slim.

“That is a very important difference,” Mother Nature noted. “Can you guess why I gave you those big feet, Jumper?”

Jumper slowly shook his head. “Not unless it was to simply make me different,” he said.

“Well,” said Mother Nature, “What happens to those big feet of yours in the winter, Jumper?”

“Nothing that I know of, excepting that the hair grows out long between my toes,” Jumper replied.

“Exactly,” agreed Mother Nature. “And when the hair does this you can travel over light snow without sinking in. It is just as if you had snowshoes. That is why you are often called a Snowshoe Rabbit. I gave you those big feet and make the hair grow out every winter because I know that you depend on your legs to get away from your predators. You can run over the deep snow where your predators break through. Peter, though he is small and lighter than you are, cannot go where you can. Although Peter doesn’t need to depend always on his legs to save his life. There is one thing more that I want you both to notice, and that is that you both have quite a lot of short hairs on the soles of you feet. That is where you differ from that cousin of yours down in the Sunny South. He has only a very few hairs on his feet. That is so he can swim better.”

“If you please, Mother Nature, why is that cousin of ours so fond of the water?” piped up Peter.

Marsh Rabbit (or Marsh Hare) that lives down south and likes to swim.
Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“Because,” replied Mother Nature, “he lives in marshy country where there is a great deal of water. He is very nearly the same size as you, Peter, and looks very much like you. But his legs are not quite so long, his ears are a little smaller, and his tail is brownish instead of white. He is a poor runner and so in time of danger he takes to the water. For that matter, he goes swimming for pleasure. The water is warm down there, and he dearly loves to paddle about in it. If a Fox chases him he simply plunges into the water and hides among the water plants with only his eyes and his nose out of water.”

“Does he make his home in the water like Jerry Muskrat?” asked Peter innocently.

Mother Nature smiled and shook her head. “Certainly not,” she replied. “His home is on the ground. His babies are born in a nest made just as Mrs. Peter Rabbit makes her nest for your babies, and Mrs. Jumper Hare makes a nest for Jumper’s babies. It is made of grass and lined with soft fur which Mrs. Rabbit pulls from her own breast, and it is very carefully hidden. By the way, Peter how do your babies differ from the babies of your Cousin Jumper?”

Peter shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said. “I do know my babies don’t have their eyes open when they are born and they haven’t any hair.”

Jumper pricked up his long ears and said “Truly? Why, my babies have their eyes open and have the dearest little fur coats!”

Mother Nature chuckled. “That is the difference,” she said. “I guess both of you have learned something.”

“You said a little while ago that Jumper isn’t the biggest of our family,” said Peter. “If you please, who is?”

“There are several bigger than Jumper,” replied Mother Nature, and smiled as she saw the funny look of surprise on the faces of Peter and Jumper. “There is one way up in the Frozen North and there are two cousins way out in the Great West. They are as much bigger than Jumper as Jumper is bigger than you, Peter. I haven’t time to tell you about them right now. However, if you really want to learn about them please be here promptly at sun-up tomorrow morning. Well Hello! Here comes Reddy Fox, and he looks to me as if he is searching for a good breakfast . Let me see what you have learned about taking care of yourselves.”

Peter and Jumper gave one startled look in the direction Mother Nature was pointing. Sure enough, there was Reddy Fox. Not far away was a hollow log. Peter wasted no time in getting to it. In fact, he left in such a hurry that he forgot to say goodbye to Mother Nature. She didn’t mind, for she quite understood Peter’s urgency, and she laughed when she saw his funny little white tail disappear inside the hollow log. As for Jumper, he promptly took to his long legs and disappeared with great bounds and Reddy Fox racing right after him.

This Curious Capkin has created more P.L.A.Y. Ponderings just for you!

Following the prompts below draw, doodle, write, ponder, paint, color, and creatively capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. Is there a “mirror” in the field or forest that Peter Rabbit could use to see how he looks? What might this be?
  2. Draw two very large circles that overlap and fill up your page. Where the two circles overlap in the middle write the things both Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare have in common. Then separately in each remaining half of each circle write the special traits they each have that the other one does not. Note: The two overlapping circles template is called a Venn Diagram and is used to compare and contrast two things.
  3. What is the purpose of Peter Rabbit’s long legs and short tail?
  4. What specific location does Peter Rabbit like to call home in or near the Green Meadows and on the edge of the Green Forest? Why is this his favorite spot? Have you ever ventured in to one and been snagged in it?
  5. Does Jumper the Hare prefer the meadow or the forest? Why?
  6. How do their feet differ? What are there uses?
  7. *Have you observed a rabbit? How does the nose move in relation to the mouth? Focus on the upper lip, what purpose does it serve? How does the rabbit eat in the summer vs. the winter and how would this special upper lip help? What are the teeth used for specifically? What are the whiskers for?

For a review of this book and more beaver resources visit: HERE

If you find the work and vision of P.L.A.Y. supports you and your family on the life learning path, please pass it forward to friends and neighbors as a Simple Gift that keeps on giving.


❤ ❤ ❤ Thank You! ❤ ❤ ❤