So as of yesterday, there are now seven beating hearts living in our house. No, I'm not pregnant! I just have a 3-week-old cottontail bunny living inside a plastic box in our bathroom right now. He's a temporary resident and will be returned to the "wild" (aka our yard) probably this weekend.
A storm came up yesterday mid-morning and the wind that preceded the storm was blowing our empty 5-gallon plastic water jugs all over the front porch. I stepped outside and glanced down at the planter that sits right outside the front door. I noticed something out of place...there was a tennis-ball-sized pile of fluff sitting huddled between the wall and the container. It startled me and I exclaimed, "OMG What IS THAT?!" I quickly realized it was a baby bunny. Great. I figured out he had probably been disturbed when the landscape guys came that morning to mow our grass (we have landscape guys because Brad is HIGHLY allergic to most grasses and weeds, I just refuse to mow, and N isn't tall or strong enough to push a mower yet).
Hilarity ensued...after talking to my friend Kimberly (who had recently had the same problem, except there were TWO bunnies invovled in her case, and they were much younger) I decided to set some water and spinach out for him. Well, in doing so, I frightened him and he darted off to the end of the porch. Now he was huddled next to the wall and under the porch railing, but remember the storm I mentioned was coming? Well, it had arrived and the wind was blowing sideways, soaking this poor rabbit.
I ran to the garage to get the stroller and my umbrella. I secured Nyssa in the stroller and set her in the front door where she could see me but wasn't getting soaked like I was about to be. I then opened the umbrella, walked around the porch in the pouring rain, and poked the bunny back toward his original hideout. I had to nudge him a couple of times, but he ended up back where he was, except now he was quite wet, poor thing.
I then got an email from a wildlife rehabilitation lady (http://www.rescuedrabbits.org/), who advised me to get the rabbit, put him in a small shoebox lined with a t-shirt, and set the shoebox on a heating pad set on medium. Then she sent me a Power Point presentation that showed Eastern Cottontails in various stages of development, from birth to adulthood. She asked me to guess how old the bunny was. I figured 2.5-3.5 weeks, and then sent her a picture, which she confirmed was probably a 3-week old bunny.
She said I could either get him to her later that evening, or she could tell me how to care for him over the next few days. We opted to care for him ourselves. She advised us to put him in a tall box, keep part of that box on a heating pad, and to provide water in a shallow dish and give him cut grass from our yard for him to eat. She also listed some of their other favorite foods (dandelions, pansies, petunias, hibiscus), but I don't have any of those so he's just getting grass!
I found out a little later that they don't eat spinach. She advised against giving apples and carrots since they don't get those in the wild.
So I put the little shoe box inside a big clear plastic box and then set a baby gate on top of that. I realized that evening that rabbits are nocturnal! He was bumping around a bit while I was trying to fall asleep, and then he was quiet through the night. And then at dawn, he started bumping around again. Silly guy! When I went to check on him after I got up this morning, I panicked, because I didn't see him at first. He had burrowed underneath the t-shirt that was in the shoe box. I uncovered his head, worried about him getting enough oxygen. He was probably fine, but the mom in me was concerned.
I'll post a photo of his latest set up later.