They had survived for a day on cows milk from a kitten bottle - which amazes me, because bunnies need a very small amount of lactose to survive and cows milk can be very bad for them. Goats milk is better, but kitten replacement milk is better yet. She said the bunnies had lost a lot of weight since they took them in and they didn't have a lot of hope for them.
I told her that we had a female bunny at home who has had a couple of false pregnancies and seems very maternal - perhaps we could try to see if she would adopt them. So they agreed and let the babies come home with us.
I explained to the kids that the bunnies would probably die and I told myself not to get emotionally attached. I was going to try to make them as comfortable as I could, for the last day or two they probably had left. Apparently wild baby bunnies have a less than 10% chance of survival being hand reared.
We put them in with Neddy, our female bunny. She sniffed at them then hid out at the other side of the cage for the rest of the night. In the morning I fed them kitten replacement with pedyalite. They were very dehydrated (you can tell by pinching the skin between their shoulder blades and counting how long it takes for the skin to fall back down - their's was taking more than 5 seconds, which means severe dehydration). I fed them several times a day, until they got more comfortable with me to take larger amounts, and also until they were better hydrated.
Their eyes were starting to open, which meant they would be starting solids soon. Which is a very dangerous time for baby bunnies, because their sterile little tummies are so fragile and they are at high risk for diarrhea which is always fatal. They need a special type of adult bunny poop to eat (yes, to eat) to give them the good bacteria in their gut to help them digest food properly. I tried to collect some from Neddy, but I couldn't find them. Bunnies usually eat them directly from their own bottom. (yes, they do) Then I noticed Neddy was hopping in the nest box, depositing a cecal poop and leaving. Which touched my heart because she knew they needed it and was taking care of them! I gave them probiotics with their feed too, just in case.
And I am pleased to say, that over a week later they are still thriving! Full of personality, hopping around the cage. What has been amazing has been watching Neddy adopt them. It started with the poops of love. Then she started hopping in and licking the bunnies and cleaning them. Then she pulled a ton of fur to make a nest and we have watched them nursing from her! Many times. I'm not certain that she has milk, so I'm still supplementing, but they aren't taking as much anymore and I'm sure they must be getting something from her.
And that whole not getting emotionally attached thing completely fell through. How can you possibly not? I am so in love with them. They are so incredibly cute. I am so happy they've been adopted and are eating hay and dandelion leaves and oats and doing so well. Fingers crossed that they continue to thrive. We're doing our best.