You might remember the bunny story from one of my previous posts: Too much of a good thing. Our mummy rabbit adopted six extra orphaned baby bunnies from a friend, bringing her litter total to a whopping 15 babies. I was worried that she wouldn’t be able to feed all of them, but she seemed to be doing ok. The bunnies are now a month old and eating and drinking by themselves.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as well as we had initially hoped. Our Mitzi certainly fed all of them and they lived and grew, but not all of them are as strong and healthy as they could have been had Ira’s rabbit lived. Last week, they had a spate of terrible diarrhea. Only the small bunnies got it, not the adults or Choco’s older litter.
I have never seen anything like it – their droppings were nothing but a clear, jelly-like substance. I gathered the affected bunnies and took them home to feed them an electrolytes mixture with a syringe. They stayed in our bedroom, next to the current house chicks. One of them was in such a bad state that he couldn’t move anymore, just lay on the floor crying. To hear a rabbit crying is heart-wrenching. They only do it when they are in agony.
Three of the six sick bunnies didn’t make it. All of those were from the adopted litter. I had to bury a soft, fluffy, lifeless mini-bunny every morning, biting back tears and wondering how on earth I was going to explain this to Ira.
The other three bunnies were from Mitzi’s own litter, and they all pulled through, including the one I thought was at death’s door. I syringe-fed them the electrolytes mixture until they could drink it by themselves, then when they started eating hay and their droppings were normal, I returned them to their mother.
The sickest bunny couldn’t even swallow at first. I was certain he was going to die overnight. But it seemed that I had still managed to get some of the liquid down his throat. The next morning, he was sitting up and had stopped crying. He swallowed the mixture when I dripped it into his tiny bunny mouth, even tried to suck the syringe. His droppings were still very soft, but were no longer colourless.
The next step was feeding him some mashed banana. He didn’t like that as much as the sugary liquid, but still took some. I washed his messy bum in warm water, which seemed to help as well. On the third day, he drank the electrolytes from a bowl and then started munching some hay! That was it, he was better! What a lovely sight!
All bunnies are now healthy and back with their mother. Ira came to take the remaining three of her poor orphaned litter, who were fortunately in good shape. It was a bit early ideally to take them away from the nursing mother, but our Mitzi had done all she could and needed a break. Ira, lovely person that she is, did not blame me in the slightest for the reduced litter and showered me in gifts and gratitude. Mitzi got treats and a nice bag of good bunny food. It made me feel tearful and guilty all over again.
But this experience made me wonder. The orphaned bunnies were a few days older and a bit bigger than Mitzi’s own babies. Still, they were the ones that died, not our own bunnies. Does that mean that they were at a disadvantage because Mitzi wasn’t their biological mother? Is the milk specifically “designed” for her own babies? Or does it simply mean they had a harder time dealing with certain bacteria in our environment, that they hadn’t been exposed to the first two weeks if their lives?
Or was it just a coincidence? Anyway, I’m glad that little sick bunny lived because of my efforts. It makes me feel like I have a small amount of influence over life and death. 💙