Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wild baby bunnies

Last Tuesday evening, we were visiting a friend at her farm and she showed us her baby bunnies. She had been working at the garden and accidentally dug up a baby bunny nest. She figured the mother probably wouldn't come back for them so she took them in to care for them. (disclaimer: if this ever happens to you, you are supposed to just rebuild the nest. Mother bunnies usually visit the nest twice a day - at dawn and dusk, to feed their babies. And they most likely won't abandon the nest just because it was disturbed, but if they come back and the bunnies are gone, they won't return.)

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.











12 comments:

Riahli said...

OMGoodness they are so adorable! I love bunnys, I use to have an indoor bunny when I was much younger, pre-kids and I just loved him he was such a gentle spirit and so smart. Some day when my house has returned to it's former quiet state I would love to have an bunny again.

It is amazing that those wild baby bunnies are thriving like that...nearly unheard of...they are so lucky you have such a sweet female bunny and that you are so dedicated to raising them!

Herb of Grace said...

Oh they are sooo precious! Wow, can hardly believe it actually worked :) I bet your girls are thrilled!

Kathie said...

How cute. Where did you learn so much about raising baby bunnies? I wouldn't have known the first thing about it.

Michelle M. said...

They are adorable! Your post actually made me tear up- ironically, it was the part about the poop :) That is such an amazing story.

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

This post is making me so emotional and giggly all at the same time. Who thought poop could be such a loving gesture. This is amazing, though. All of it. I think it would be nearly impossible not to get emotionally attached. I mean, I'm hours away from you and already attached to these little munchkins. So very sweet!

lady mommy said...

so adorable!! arent gods creatures amazing!

Edith said...

Yes they are cute, yes they are adorable but I'm still reeling from the "they eat their poo" revelation..!

Morgan said...

So so precious that your momma bunny has adopted them! What a great story! :)

septembermom said...

So so cute! Thanks for sharing :) It's nice that Neddy adopted these little ones.

MrsW said...

They are more cute than I can say - cute beyond cute. What hard work raising them beasties, well done.

me said...

You awesome bunny expert you! Those photos are so CUTE! They also make me sad, because I found a nest of baby bunnies in our garden over the weekend...but unfortunately, Sajak beat me to them. :(

childrens toy boxes said...

Oh my!! I think I'm going to explode. Cute overload!!! Aaaawwww!!!!