Monday, June 1, 2009
Raising Orphan Bunnies
As I was raking years of debris off what I hoped would be my garden, I uncovered a nest with four tiny baby bunnies. They were surrounded by their mother’s fur and dry leaves, very warm although the day was cold. They instinctively froze while I took a good look at them.
They were beyond cute and totally helpless. Each about 3 inches long, they all huddled together and they made no noise. Their eyes were not open; their ears were flat against the sides of their heads. They were a soft warm grayish brown, with a white blaze in the middle of their foreheads.
We checked them daily, and one day it seemed clear that they were restless, they were actually making noise, an indication that Mom Bunny was no longer on the job. Their eyes had been open for two days.
Rather than let them die, my animal loving daughter took the bunnies in and fed them until they were weaned and big enough to be released somewhere far away from my garden. I was a little anxious about the plan; wild baby bunnies are hard to keep alive in captivity.
She fed them goat’s milk with a little greek yogurt three times daily. They started by taking just a few drops at a time, and soon were taking more than a teaspoon at a feeding. After a week she gave them alfalfa hay, and they started to munch on that. In another week they were big enough to be weaned. She started giving them rabbit pellets and decreasing the goat’s milk. I was so proud of her. She really worked hard to keep the bunnies healthy. She didn’t pick them up just to pet them, she kept the cage clean, she made time to feed them on schedule, and just did a really great job. She was 11 years old.
The safest place my daughter could think of to release them was the summer camp she attends each year. So one day we drove up to Camp Roger, followed a trail, and let the bunnies go at the edge of a meadow.
I am sure she will be looking for them this summer when she gets to camp.