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The Animal Communicator Blog

The Big Storm & the Little Rabbit

I live in the Sonoran Desert in a rural area north of Phoenix, Arizona on beautiful land surrounded by mountains and filled with an amazing array of wild animals.

Summer brings Monsoon, when a shift in wind direction from dry westerly to moist southerly winds brings a season punctuated by big winds, lightning and thunder storms and flash floods. The last two summers have been excruciating dry, a drought exacerbated by very little rain last winter. We hoped for a good rainy season this summer.

In the intense heat of June and July, I talk to garden plants who are having a rough time in the heat and ask if they want to let go or keep trying to survive. Watering them is often not enough in these conditions for them to thrive. With increasing heat and drought, it may get worse for marginal desert survivors in the coming years.

When we get monsoon rain, it changes the whole picture. Rain has nutrients that helps plants flourish. Plants, such as my tough rosemary bushes that were turning yellow and dropping their leaves, undergo a drastic transformation in less than two days after a good rain. They stand tall and shine with their rich green color restored.

Weather forecasters may predict rain and it looks promising with big clouds, lightning, and thunder. Yet barely a whisper of moisture is released. That’s what this July has been like here, though other places in the area got some good rainfall.

Then on Friday, July 23, we had a rip roaring thunder and lightning storming day with over 3 inches of rain and winds blasting from every direction. After about 2 inches came down in an hour, I found a drenched desert woodrat in the corner of the front porch, his home tunnels under a prickly pear cactus flooded out. He trembled when he heard me come out and I let him know he was safe and I wouldn't disturb him. He just needed a place to dry out for awhile.

The chickens called me outside, and I found the ground in their entire 12x20 foot run completely wet, as it has never been before. The wild, shifting winds just whipped the rain in. The chickens have dry places to perch and are hardy characters. They did welcome a comforting treat of mealworms.

In the late afternoon, I saw another little animal leaning on the edge of the porch that I thought was a kangaroo rat. As I looked closer I recognized a very wet, cold, shivering baby rabbit, smaller than a closed fist. I got a box lined with newspaper with lots of hay and put the bunny in to warm up and rest in the garage overnight. She welcomed the dry shelter and burrowed into the hay.

Baby rabbit on top of hay
Flash flood warnings sounded on my phone all day, warning me not to go out. The power went out several times, and I enjoyed watching all the action outside. We had a number of very bright and loud simultaneous lightning and thunder events that made me jump. Pepito (Chihuahua) was a brave trooper through it all, as were (cats) Lila and Jerry. Ziggy hid under the bed. Mo (tortoise) stayed in his burrow. I went out when it wasn't raining hard to see that the pounding, rushing rain had re-sculpted my long gravel driveway and made a small lake in the lower end of Mo's enclosed garden.

A lightning fire started early in the morning, creating lots of smoke in the mountains in view of my home. Gratefully, the rain took care of it.

More heavy rain was predicted for several days. In less than twelve hours, we had more rain than fell all year before today. The dry earth and plants drank deeply. The temperature dropped 30 degrees below our normal summer heat for a nice relief. It was quite an adventuresome day for all of us critters here!

Little baby bunneroo had a good, dry, warm night's sleep in her box in the garage after her storm adventure the previous day. Desert Cottontail rabbits are weaned at about two weeks old and leave the nest by three weeks. I got that she was born on July 1, so she was only 22 days old when the storm took her by surprise. I put her under a bush on top of some dry hay the next morning. Fortunately, it wasn't raining. I hoped she would decide to hang nearby with all of the other desert rabbits who've adopted me. She fit into the palm of my hand. Totally precious.

The next day brought only .25 inches of rain in the evening. I was glad for the bunny’s sake and felt she was making her way in the world as wild ones do.

Today, Sunday, July 25, I spent the entire cool morning working on the land, shoring up washed out areas and rain-carved paths. It was lightly drizzling and quite pleasant. In the normal summer heat, I have to shorten my garden work time or get exhausted.

Just as I was getting set to go inside at Noon, the rain came. No hours of dramatic lightning displays and rolling thunder shaking the earth. Just rain. Coming down steadily, then harder.

Pepito and I sat on the back porch and watched as rivers of water started flowing down the paths past the house. It had rained about 1 inch in 45 minutes by the time we went inside. Flash flood warnings sounded again on my phone. I watched a video from a neighbor who lives near a wash with water that rose so high and fast, it floated his shed away. It was later on the news, and they found the shed far from his home on the road.

I looked out the front entrance windows, and who should appear?

My little baby rabbit friend was pulling herself up the step to the front porch, sopping wet and seeking shelter. I scooped her up and put her in her garage box with fresh hay and a bit of garden greens. She wasn’t interested in the food, just to be dry and safe. I could feel her relief as she settled into her shelter.

The rabbits here have shown me clearly how their mothers tell them to behave with bigger animals that could be predators. Freeze in place and put on an “invisibility cloak” if they are babies and run if they are adults. The rabbits here have learned that I communicate with, love, and nurture them. Many rabbits do not run away when I go by, even when I have Pepito on the leash, since they know I will not let him chase them.

My little rabbit friend told me how her mother said to be afraid of humans. She felt a soul connection with me, and my behavior allowed her to trust. It is a precious gift to be trusted by a wild animal.

As I thought about our special relationship, I also wondered if the little rabbit wanted a name. She popped in with, “I like the name Patricia.”

I will release “Patricia” in the morning when the storms have passed and the sun is shining.

The loud roar of the wash on my land about 200 feet downhill from my home called me outside again. I hadn’t heard that sound in a long time and had to witness the awesome churning waters.

Water running down a wash with trees
Monsoon is miraculous and wild. It is such a contrast with our intense summer heat and brings new life to the desert. This year, it brought a baby bunny to my door.

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