Tuesday, February 9, 2016

And Then There Were Six

So on Saturday when I went to feed Trooper, I found her busily eating something in her nether regions. Bunny people aren't as surprised by this as other pet owners would be because rabbits regularly eat special poops they make (cecotropes). So we're used to it. But this went on and on and on and then there was squeaking. She'd been having some runny cecotropes so I thought (hoped) it was gas. (I'm an eternal optimist, what can I say.) Then there was more squeaking, and I freaked out.

She was hanging out in her clubhouse at the time.

So I gently picked her up and looked underneath. That's when I saw this:

And I said, "You're having BABIES???!!!!! You have GOT to be kidding me!!!!!"

Trooper said, "Duh."

And so that's how I ended up with six rabbits after rescuing one. Of course, they can't (all) stay. So if you know of anyone looking for a bunny...

At this point in the proceedings, Trooper was still recovering from her car accident. The very last thing she needed (or was capable of) was to take care of babies. I wasn't sure she was even physically able since she could barely maneuver her own self around. She kept stepping on them and they'd squeal. Fortunately, she had a vet appointment the same day so she got checked out. (If you want to support the kindness of Trooper's vet who saved her and is donating his time and resources to helping her stay alive, there's a button up there on the right.) Turns out she had some milk, but not a lot.

I've had experience raising babies from a day old, so I felt confident that I could step in if it turned out that Trooper wasn't up to the job of nursing her babies. You know what they say about confidence. It comes right before everything goes pear shaped. Those babies wanted nothing to do with me. I have nursed wild cottontail babies and they were nowhere near as squirmy as this lot. In fact, I've handled these babies for three days now, and I'm completely amazed at how tenacious and resilient and strong they are.

So far I've managed to give the runt one supplemental feeding that he accepted with grudgingly bad grace. As a work-around, I've figured out a sneaky way to get him some extra food he doesn't have to compete for. When Trooper finishes feeding everyone she always hops out and goes to get some more food and water. So I tuck the runt under her and he tops off his partially full belly. So far, he's keeping up with everyone else. He's a bit smaller, but he's thriving.

Raising the babies is very much a team effort. I'm sure Trooper would be a great mom if she wasn't recovering from being run over by a car. But after she gave birth she went from being a big, hefty rabbit to being a sack of fur and bones. There is nothing to her. Fortunately, she's begun eating on her own and once she started, she doesn't seem to be able to stop. I've never seen any animal pack away so much food. All she does is eat, drink, nap, sleep, poop, and do it all over again. Nursing babies isn't really on her radar. That's my job. I keep track of how full their tummies are, and when they're looking kinda empty, I pop her into their house and she nurses them. Sometimes I have to stand guard to make sure she actually does it because she's apt to sneak right back out again.

After they eat, they have to have their bottoms stimulated so they can pee. This is such an important job that Trooper has left it to me. That's how much she trusts me now. We're like besties. So I make them pee (read: I rub their little hineys with a warm, wet cottonball until they pee...or until I'm sure they don't have to pee.) You want to know what happens if I don't do this? They throw themselves around squeaking in agony. It's not pretty. When I'm done with them, if Trooper is interested, she gives their bottoms a thorough cleaning. Then they go back in the nest.

This is working for us right now. Trooper and the babies are spending most of their time sleeping and eating. I'm spending most of my time awake and making sure they sleep and eat. It's not perfect, but it's a system. Prepare to be blinded by cuteness because here are some baby pix:

And I'll leave you with a video of one of the babies having a kung-fu fighting kind of dream. The real action starts after 12 seconds or so: