Well, I promised you bunny drama, and that's what I am going to report about here! As of today I've had 25 cottontail baby bunnies come through WTS in the last 6-8 weeks. Sadly, but not surprisingly, 11 have passed on, but 7 have been released, and 7 are still here (with 5 of these soon to be released once their injuries heal up a bit better; 2 are still touch-and-go). Cottontails are the bane of rehabbers as they take so much time and effort and are so difficult to keep alive owing to their complicated digestion that really needs a mother's milk to be healthy. As you read in previous blogs, even if you nurse them through the first few weeks, without the mother's nutrients their bones often don't form well and end up breaking. So sad.
Anyway, all was well up to about 10 days ago. I put 5 bunnies in a release cage outdoors, and there were 5 others from 2 groups that I put together in a big cage- they were still too small to be released. Up until this time all had been peaceful in the adorable bunny colony, as seen in the above picture. I was happy to leave that day knowing that all of my bunnies were doing well and were on their way to being released in the next few days...
But I came home that night to a bloodbath!!
A previously unknown feral cat was stalking the release cage, and all the bunnies had hidden, except one that in its panic had gotten trapped against the side of the cage. It ended up a sitting duck and the cat had attacked! There was a hole though it's nose, through the bone and into the nasal cavity. This poor little bun had originally come to me as a dog attack victim, so had already been through a lot in its first 4 weeks of life (see picture of her as a wee bun on the 1June post- she's one of the little bunnies in the picture of the two sitting next to each other)! It was gurgling blood and looked very bad. But the good news is that after 10 days this little one is doing great! Dr. Connolly sewed her up and she is healing really well. I even made her a new luxury hutch and caught her bouncing around in happy jumps yesterday evening. So cute! She'll be released in about another week.
But it didn't end there... after I took "pale pink" (the nailpolish colour in her ear) inside, and set a trap for the cat-- which was trapped and brought to the SPCA the next day (the SPCA here is a no-kill shelter that finds placement for ferals)-- I then went to check on all the smaller bunnies...
Well, an even worse scene was waiting for me there! For whatever reason, there had been a giant baby bunny fight!! 3 bunnies were very torn up and bleeding and bitten. It was terrible! I've talked to other rehabbers a lot since then and it seems that some have never had this problem, but others have. I think that peraps if you introduce them to each other after week3 or so, there can be trouble. I don't know! Their cages had been next to each other, so they certainly "knew" each other. Maybe there was a weird 'balance in power" issue with 2 new ones going in with 2 previous residents of the big cage. Who knows!
Anyway, dear little Silver Blaze and Sparkles (previously known as "Blaze" & "Cattack" before they were assigned nailpolish colours!), who are siblings and came to me when they were about 5-6 days old, got the worst of it, as seen in the pictures here. Silver Blaze got about 10 stitches in one incision and two other incisions glued up with vet-glue. Sparkles had some bad abrasions, and was bitten quite badly in the ear. :( I was so upset as these two were really like my little babychildren and were all set to be released in a few days....now I'll have them for another 3-4 weeks to make sure they are all healed with hair growing back! I hope by then they will still be able to acclimatize to life in the wild. I'm sure they will...though unlike all my other bunnies, these little ones are very calm with me as they are so used to me. Maybe they'll stay nearby when released which would be great!
I bought them a brand new huge cage, and they are now very happy in it, bouncing around and shnuggling together! They get very excited at dinner time and pull on the bars with their teeth demanding their fresh greens!
BTW, a BIG thanks to Cameron for supplying all my bunnies with so many lovely fresh organic greens from his farm!
And just as I was coming to terms with these bunny dramas, and Dr. Connolly was busy stitching everyone up, guess what? A new litter arrived. At 9-10 days old they were in really good shape, having been nursed by mum for that first essential week of life. Compare the picture of this little Chubbun to Pink (blog date 20May) at the same age.
They had been weed-wacked-- one of them in particular having a very bad injury, a gash wide open from his neck down to his elbow, exposing all the muscle on the arm-- and then "played with" by a rottweiler.
One was DOA, and as stated, another was very badly off with his arm injury. But the other 3 I thought would be just fine, they looked so healthy. Well, one by one, over the last few days, they have all died. I don't know why. Perhaps they had bad internal injuries from the dog. Perhaps they had tiny injuries hidden in their skin. I don't know, but it was so sad! However, the little champion with the injured arm is actually doing quite well! Dr. Simon Starkey couldn't sew it up as he didn't want to close up any infection that had already started, so the would has been left open, with constant cleaning & bandage changing over the last week, and the little hopper is hopping! He is also sporting a very fashionable vest, as seen above!
I swear, sometimes it's the ones with the worse injuries that survive. Really amazing. It's as if their pain keeps them awake.
One last note... here is a picture of a very sweet cat. It belongs to the neighbours and is very friendly and has GIANT paws (all the better for catching baby bunnies with). They let it outside, unsupervised, all day. I have caught it on several times "playing with" wildlife- usually chipmunks. I put a suggestive bell on a make-shift collar with a note reporting it's activities (not that bells necessarily work, see Cats & Wildlife). They let it wear the bell for a while, but it is once again without one. I catch it at least once a day stalking little creatures. I so wish that the neighbours would have more consideration of what kinds of pain & suffering their sweet pet inflicts upon all the lovely little native animals (I also wish the neighbours understood that their roaring ATVs are also not wildlife friendly).
Please, all those who read this and let their pets outside unsupervised: think of this blog post & THINK TWICE!!!