Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Let me tell you a wee story....

I heard a snippet of a song on the radio once that went something like - 'for every day the sun does rise, a new thing falls upon the eyes'. I never did find out who it was by but the words have stayed with me because they explain perfectly why I find natural history so completely absorbing (to the point of obsession according to my family).  All you have to do is get out and there is always but always something new to puzzle over, marvel at or simply stand and stare at.
But, as most of you who take the trouble to follow my witterings (and thank you for that by the way) are fellow NH bloggers, you know this already so I'll get to my point.  Which is to say.... isn't rabbit urine a bonny colour in the snow?

My curiosity to know why it was bright orange led me to some fascinating wee facts.  Apparently rabbit urine can vary from white to yellow to orange and even red.  How cool is that?  When at the white end of the spectrum this is due to secretion of excess calcium as calcium carbonate crystals which turn the urine thick and creamy. At the red end this is due to excretion of porphyrin pigments derived from the diet.  Yellow urine will also eventually darken in the air through oxidation of the pigments.

So there you have it. Proof that the lyrics of that song are spot on.


  1. Dear Uncle Allan
    Please can you tell me how you know that it is rabbit wee?

    from Ben

  2. Hi Ben!
    Well.... that is a very smart question because I don't really know for absolutely sure that it is rabbit wee because I didn't see the rabbit do it!
    But I do know for absolutely sure that its next to rabbit poo. (I've seen a lot of rabbit poo!) Next time you go onto the dunes at Bamburgh find a rabbit hole and have a really good look at the poo all around the entrance. Small round pellets.. but I bet you've seen them before.

    So I knew I had a rabbit toilet spot and therefore it was a pretty safe bet that the wee was rabbit's too. What made me sure though was that there were rabbit footprints in the snow but no footprints from any other animal that might have sneaked in and had a quick wee where the rabbit had poo'd just to fool me. Check my blog in the next few days and I'll post a photograph of the rabbit tracks so you can spot them for yourself next time you are out in the snow.
    Happy poo spotting :-)