The Bunny that Did Not Die in the Night–
Last night at 1 a.m. -ish, I let Magpie outside and when I let her in, a limp baby bunny, of an early age *just* transitioning from rat to rabbit, was laying, covered in dog spit, on the top step. Magpie stood over it proudly.
I picked the bunny up to throw it in the outside trash and it moved. I inspected it, and found all its limbs, its back, and its head to be uninjured.
Now, I know my family members *coughLindacough* think I’m way too soft-hearted, but I can be a realist. I took that bunny right back outside and left it on the edge of the patio, hoping it would be gone (mama bunny or predator) or dead (from cold and stress) in the morning.
In fact, when I picked it up, chanting to myself “please be dead, please be dead,” as it warmed in my hand it began to move and cry.
I called the two local vets and neither could give me the name of a local, or even distant, wildlife rehaber. So I turned to the internet — no rehabers closer than the far side of Des Moines. Then, with a sigh, I Googled how to care for baby bunnies.
Every single website I found began with the same types of statements: “Baby rabbits are incredibly fragile, especially wild rabbits.” “Rescued baby rabbits typically die within 2 days.” “It is very difficult to successfully rescue an infant wild rabbit.”
I read these, and looked at the squirming, crying bunny in my hand. I hadn’t found a rabbit nest in my yard, which is always full of dogs anyway, so I was pretty sure Mim the cat had brought the bunny into the yard and Magpie had found it, mouthed it, and left it for me to find. Despite all of that, and having been left exposed overnight, despite the fact that a wild baby rabbit dies every time you have a cruel or impure thought, THIS bunny seemed anything but fragile.
So I read the rescue site’s instructions and went to Walmart and bought some puppy formula. I put some rice in an old sock and microwaved it, put that in one corner of a tall Corning Ware casserole, draped a clean dishtowel over everything, and placed the bunny inside. He (yeah he — it seems baby bunny genitals develop early) is now napping on my desk at work, so I can keep the rice heated up. Mama bunnies feed their babies only once or twice a day, so I don’t have to worry about that until this evening.
I realize that this little, eyes-still-closed bunny is probably going to die and I won’t be overly upset when he does. But I can keep him warm and safe and try to help him not die. I also realize that if he lives, in a couple of weeks I’ll release him and he’ll probably die then, but at least I won’t know about it.
In the meantime, given his initial toughness and my childhood love of Watership Down, I’m calling him The General.
Pics to follow.