Bunny Post Mortem

Bubba’s demise may have been caused by contact with a cat. In my last post, I identified bacteria as one possible cause for the baby bunny’s death.

On Saturday night, hours after adopting Bubba, I sent an e-mail to Second Chance Wildlife Center, which is where we would have taken the bunny for care. Last night, Chris from Second Chance e-mailed advice about Bubba. Apparently, she didn’t know that I had called earlier in the day. With her permission, here is the e-mail, which contains information potentially useful to other people with distressed, wild baby bunnies.  She writes:

Joe: Since you are experienced with domestic bunnies, it is important that you understand wild rabbits do everything twice as fast as domestics. They open their eyes by two weeks, are weaned by four and completely independent by about 5-6 weeks and mom has a new batch!

We care for about 600 bunnies each year.

The biggest danger is infection from the cat; even if you do not see a wound, it takes only the tiniest scratch or puncture to kill the bunny. Any animal brought to us even suspected of being caught by a cat is put on antibiotics. In my experience, without this treatment, the animal dies within three days. If it has survived longer than that, it has a chance.

If it is eating on its own, I would not even attempt to give it milk or any other kind of formula. (Cow’s milk usually results in serious diarrhea and rapid death even if the milk is diluted.)

My best suggestion is to bring the bunny to us. If that is not possible, give it lots of clover, dandelion, plaintain leaves and you can offer sweet potato, carrots, apple, romaine lettuce.

If it has survived this long, is eating well and ‘bopping’ around, cut it loose. These are very high-stress animals and do not do well in captivity. Hope your little guy is hanging in. Chris

Unfortunately, our little Bubba didn’t hang in there, and it’s situation dramatically turned from about 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday morning. The chipper baby bunny went from eating and frolicking to listlessness and eventual death.

I wonder if cats pose risks to our house bunnies, which do play outdoors.