Wednesday, April 14th
9 days old
This morning Cutie Pie has his eyes open, and by evening all three have their eyes open. Squinty Eyes has dark urine tonight. This is not a good sign, according to Internet sources. The brown urine is toxic, according to Internet sources. but they don’t indicate what you should do about this. I know that dark urine in humans indicates dehydration, so rehydration is in order. I instructed Kevin to give the bunnies additional feedings tomorrow, and be certain that he wipes their bottoms and gets them to potty. Up to this point we were trying to only feed them twice a day, like the mother would have. Some sources indicate that you must not feed them more than twice a day, and not too much at once because you might bloat them. Other sources said they should be fed every six hours for sixteen hours a day.
There are 22 days of reports on the bunnies. You are on Day 4, click here to read Day 5.
Tuesday, April 13th: Today all three bunnies have empty bellies, so at this point we made the decision to bring them inside and take care of them ourselves. It was too risky hoping the mom would care for them.
According to Internet sources, I decided the bunnies were 6 days old on Easter Sunday. When cottontails are born, they are hairless and their eyes are closed. By a week of age they have all their fur, but their eyes do not open until they are 6-10 days old.
It is difficult feeding the buns. We are using a syringe and putting the tip at the side of their mouth and gently pushing on the plunger. We have to be very careful not to get too much milk in their mouth or they could aspirate it. We are also taking much care to make sure we feed them while they are in a upright position — meaning they are on all fours. We have to hold them in our hand, and kind of hold their head in between the thumb and index finger to keep the head still and then press milk into their mouths. They also do not like having their bottoms wiped. They kick their back legs, but finally the urine begins to come out, slowly, drop by drop. I make sure to use a clean paper towel, wet with warm water for each one. At least if I cannot see urine coming out, I can see urine on the paper towel and know they are going potty. This is crucial to their survival. A couple of times it took me at least one full minute of gently wiping to get them to potty.
There are 22 days of reports on the bunnies. You are on Day 3, click here to read Day 4
Monday, April 12th: The one little bun alongside the fence has a full belly of milk this morning, the other two’s bellies were quite thin. We decided to bring them inside and give them some fresh, raw goat’s milk. We got minute amounts into them — 1cc into each bunny. I don’t think that was enough, but I didn’t want to upset their tummies and I wanted their mom to have a chance to care for them herself. I used plastic gloves and paper towels to touch them so I would put as little of my scent on them as possible. One was quite small, possibly the runt. I got the larger bun to pee by gently wiping its bottom with a warm paper towel, but I couldn’t get Tiny to pee. Their mother usually helps them urinate and defecate by licking their belly and bottom, which stimulates their body to eliminate waste. I put them back into the nest for the day, pulling out the full-tummied bunny, placing his siblings behind him and him in front, hoping he would block them in the area so the mom could find all three of them.
There are 22 days of reports on the bunnies. You are on Day 2, click here to read Day 3
Easter Sunday April 11, 2004: Our dogs found a nest of cottontail bunnies this morning. Luckily Kevin was mixing straw and mud bricks close to the area and rescued the three. He got my attention and I went out to see what he had found. I knew immediately they were baby rabbits, and picked them up one by one. Shortly after I remembered that I had always heard that if you touch a wild baby animal the mother will reject it. Oh dear. I went inside and did some research on the ‘net and found that contrary to that popular belief, the parents will not reject their young because a human has touched them. It’s more the constant activity (of humans, peeking in on the babies, hanging around the area) around the nest that would scare the mother away. The information said to return the babies to the nest, and place two strings across the top, and then check back later to see if the strings were disturbed. Different information was given for when the mother visits. One source said once during the night. Another source said once at daybreak and once at dusk.
We put the bunnies back in their nest, and put strings across the top. Only they weren’t content to stay in their nest. They were crawling around the nest area — which we had enclosed with a huge rolling cage. The cage is made of chain link fence and the mother cottontail can easily fit through the chain link. We waited until it was very dark out, and went out to check on the bunnies. One bunny was in one spot along the fence, and the other two had wandered to another spot. The two strings weren’t much help as the bunnies had been wandering around the nest moving them. We didn’t touch them, deciding to give the mother another chance in the morning. At this point I didn’t realize that the mom just hops in, stands over the nest to nurse them and they have to find her. I thought she would round them up and care for them, so we didn’t move them together.
There are 22 days of reports on the bunnies. You are on Day 1, click here to read Day 2