A ‘hoppy’ ending for the baby bunnies!

baby bunnies

I was looking for the fairy-tale ending for the nest
of baby bunnies
in my yard. I worked hard, walking the dogs on leashes so
as to leave the yard a bunny-safe zone.

Momma Bunny was supposed to come back and care for the brood
until they were old enough to hop away and live happily ever after. But as we
all know, in real life, sometimes your prince doesn’t come — and as it turns
out, sometimes neither does Momma Bunny.

When I last posted, I had checked in with the experts, wildlife
rehabilitators
, who are trained and experienced in dealing with many
wildlife issues, including the inevitable bunny-nest in the yard. They
explained that sometimes Mom slips in at dusk or dawn and you may not be able
to tell she was there. Don’t panic, they said! I strategically placed
very light twigs
in a crossed pattern over the nest the next evening,
hopeful that Mom would show and my fairy-tale would be preserved. Sadly, the
next morning, all was exactly how I’d left it.


baby bunnies

A call to wildlife rehabilitator Tracy found me in the yard
checking a baby for a “milk belly” and signs of dehydration. Sadly,
they had no signs of the former and did show signs of the latter. Given their
young age (still under a week), the fact that we think Mom hadn’t been there in
two nights, and the initial signs of dehydration, it was important that these
guys be fed — and the folks at Woodlands
Wildlife Refuge
in Bethlehem
Township
, NJ
, were up
for the job!

I packed the bunnies up in a box lined with a towel and part of their nest. I
also wrapped a bottle of hot water in another towel and put it in with them to
help keep them warm. And away we went …

Woodlands is an awesome place, caring for hundreds of injured and orphaned
animals every year. They have a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and dedicated
staff and volunteers providing care 24/7! When I arrived with the baby buns,
they were quickly logged in and set up in the baby ward, where they would be
tube-fed and monitored. The staff said the bunnies were in pretty good shape,
which was great to hear.

I was amazed to see all the animals the staff was caring for — raccoons (and lots
of ’em), skunks, opossums … all being prepped for eventual release back into
the wild. They also care for foxes, bobcats, coyotes, and black bear. While
there were no bobcats or coyotes in residence, I did catch sight of a fox in a
distant pen. And they currently have a bear cub in care, but I didn’t get to
see him.

I’m sad that my bunnies didn’t have the chance to grow up on their own with the
help of their mom — while I watched. And I know the sad truth is that in
captivity, even with the best care by the experts, the mortality rate for baby
bunnies is extremely high (up to 50%). But without their mom to feed them, they
would have died in the nest. So I know I’ve done all I can do for them. I left
my new heroes at Woodlands with a check (and if you are looking for a way to
support wildlife, you can consider doing the same) and my heartfelt thanks.
I’ve decided to believe that all my bunnies are going to make it — and live
“hoppily” ever after.

I’ve also decided to keep my grass cut shorter — and keep an eye out for nests
in the making!
 
P.S.: My Pit Bull Mojo seemed oblivious to the fact that the bunnies were gone,
but did later saunter over and pee in the empty nest. Guess we know what he
thinks of them.


Previous entries:

Baby bunnies, day 3: Where is Mom?

Baby bunnies spotted in NJ!