Monday, March 12, 2012
tiny fluffy things
It was a strange week full of baby animals and feeling tiny heartbeats in my hand. Our rabbits turned out to be a male and a female. And so you know, rabbits... When I realized the female was pregnant, I thought, well, it will be an interesting experience for the kids (I had no idea). I finally found a vet that will fix the rabbits and I planned that after they had their litter, they could go for a little procedure in the vet's office. I thought it would be nice.
We have two cats so I was very worried about these baby bunnies. I tried to get the mother to have them in the kennel. I brought her in every night. But she somehow, despite my best efforts, made a nest at the base of a tree and had her babies there. Her burrow was well hidden, I couldn't find it and the cats didn't find it for a week. When Cookie proudly came into the house with a tiny bunny in her maw I was horrified. I quickly found the nest and covered the air hole with chicken wire so the cats couldn't get in. There appeared to be five or six more babies and the nest was ingenious.
I was so impressed with Hiphop (the mother rabbit) and her nest. She would dig a passage into the burrow and cover it back up when she was done. (The opening I had covered with wire was just an air-hole through the roots of the tree.) I was amazed by nature. I read about rabbits on the internet and was fascinated. Rabbits don't lie with their young. They nurse them twice in a 24 hour period. They don't hang around their babies, and humans often mistake this behaviour for neglect. I decided to let nature take it's course and didn't interfere. I made the kids stay away from the nest, and really thought I was doing the right thing. Until Wednesday, my girls really wanted to see the babies. The baby rabbits would be about 10 days old. I was curious too, so we locked the cats in the house and with happy anticipation, we went over to the big tree.
I moved the wire and immediately knew something was wrong, from the smell, and the flies, and the biting black ants streaming into the burrow. There was one live baby left; it was so weak, it only lived a couple of hours after we found it, and it smelled like it was already dead. Horrible. And really hard on my girls.
I don't know why the mother abandoned the nest. The whole thing was so tragic and awful. I will definitely not be attempting rabbit husbandry again. I don't have the guts for it.
The whole thing was so disturbing, that when we rescued a baby bird that had blown out of it's nest on windy, Saturday morning, I felt sick to my stomach. Amazingly, The cats hadn't hurt the little thing. We couldn't find the nest (I suspect it's in my neighbour's yard). It was too small to fly, so we took it to the rehabilitation centre at Parque Metropolitano. They happily accepted it and told us it was probably a Ruiseñor (Southern Nightingale-Wren). So, we rescued a songbird. It didn't make up for the baby bunny horror show, but I felt a little less lousy and I know my girls did too.