Thursday, August 23, 2007

Carnage On The Lawn

Dumb Little Dog brought a dead animal up to the back door deck yesterday morning -- the middle kiddle said it was a baby mouse. That's the story I got from hubby, as he was the Parent On Call in the morning.

Later that afternoon, Dumb Little Dog caught another one on the sidewalk (where she prefers to pee and poo because, well, she's Dumb Little Dog). This time I was the Parent On Call and I asked how big the baby mouse was -- when Des put her fingers apart suggesting a size of 4-5 inches, I knew there was a problem...

Thinking it was a rat -- which is no better, no worse, as far as that goes -- I decided to investigate what the backyard looked like with such large animal carcasses strewn upon it.

My investigation showed that this was not a case of either a momma mouse or a momma rat -- the baby I found was a baby rabbit.

(So much for everyone here in Green Acres who calls me the City Kid -- at least I can spot a bunny from a mouse!)

The baby rabbit was clearly in pain, swaying it's head and upper body from side-to-side, its little eyes not even open yet. Oh yeah, and there was a good-sized pool of bunny blood too.

I left it, hoping momma would come back soon, and went in search of the first victim -- hoping not to find him as that would be proof that he was alright.

No such luck.

His cold and rigid body was under the stairs (where he had been dropped between the second and third steps); his neck looked bloody and broken.

I took one last look at the maimed bunny on the sidewalk and told myself that momma would come for him if we left the yard alone.

Hours later, the baby bunny was still there, laying on it's side. Very still. I gently touched its wee head (with a white stripe that was too cute) and it moved. But it was very cool to the touch... I had to do something, so I picked it up in an old kitchen towel and hugging it close to warm it, brought it into the house.

I searched in vain for my old animal rescue gear; to no avail. (Memo to self -- and any others reading -- Do Not get rid of those small critter keepers, heat lamps and other pet stuff because you will need it again.)

I went to the Tupperware-slash-plastic food storage container cupboard and announced, "Who will shorten his life for a hurt baby bunny?" and grabbed one of those large ice cream buckets with the handle.

Tucking the baby in the towel gently inside the 'basket' I looked about for an eye-dropper. The only one I could find, believe it or not, was in a bottle of Rescue Remedy. Water, I felt, would be a better one; so I pulled out the dropper. I washed it, rinsed it, rinsed it again, sniffed it (for the Rescue Remedy scent), rinsed it again and again and sniffed it again before I decided it was OK.

I filled a small tippy cup (sans sippy lid) with tepid water and filled the dropper. I stroked his head and nudged his lips, but other than his blind head bobbing about imploringly, nothing much could be noticed of the attempts at hydration.

I put bundled bunny back in the bucket and I went in search of a light fixture generating heat.

Damn us and our environmental-slash-economic pursuits! All our bulbs (save for a few halogen bulbs aimed at art on the walls -- and those would fry the poor bunny-babbit!) are now those funny-looking twisty bulbs which are florescent or whatnot and so put out no heat.

I searched in the junk drawer and found one regular old bulb -- 100 watts. I un-plugged and moved the floor light fixture nearer to the couch, set the bunny basket-home on a TV tray, swapped bulbs, plugged the fixture in, and then turned it on -- POP the light bulb sparked and burnt-out.



I picked bunny (named Spot) up and held him close for warmth. Stroking his head now and then and proffering drops of water.

It was then that Des noticed the blood on the towel -- not much, just a few drops. But this made it clear that Spot was still bleeding. Inspecting him showed a small-to-me, but-large-to-him, gash on his tummy -- likely from Dumb Little Dog's tooth.

I have to admit I began to shake a bit.

The idea of two murdered baby bunnies -- even by natural canine urges -- was sickening.

I sent Des to bed and that's when it hit me to turn to the Internet for help.

My first instincts were correct: You leave baby bunnies, health or maimed, where they are and hope for momma to come.
"The reality is fewer than 10% of orphaned rabbits survive a week..."

"Very young wild baby bunnies with eyes closed and ears back rarely survive in captivity, even given the most expert human care..."

"Mom will be coming back at night to call and feed him only once in the middle of the night. Do not take the bunny inside or feed him. That is the mom's job. IT IS A MATTER OF HIS/HER SURVIVAL AND UP TO US AS HUMANS TO LEAVE NATURE BE AND LET THE MOM CARE FOR HER YOUNG. We often hear of mothers moving their babies and their nests, and have seen moms come back every night for up to a week to look for her missing baby. Do not take the baby from the mom or she will be frantic."
I put him back where he was (the little pink stain on the sidewalk told me where) and left him.

I took the dogs elsewhere to pee and poo.

Hubby came home later and moved baby Spot to a place just over our fence, but near enough for momma to find him (just a few feet away -- but safe from the dogs, human foot traffic, and the very popular "Kitty Path" too).

Now I wait 'til morning to see...