We had one of those, "Do we really want to keep torturing ourselves?" days at the rabbitry yesterday, and today isn't looking any better. :(
Marilla didn't have any milk to nurse her babies and, try as I might to get them to nurse from our other lactating does, they just didn't have the strength to latch on and suckle properly. We lost two yesterday. I put the last one in with Batty's kits, only to find Batty's runt and Marilla's kit both dead this morning. It was genetically impossible for Batty and Marilla to have peanuts, but all of their babies were impossibly tiny, despite being carried full term. This morning, I attempted to have Batty's remaining two kits nurse from Plum Bun, whose kits are absolutely enormous in comparison. I believe they each got a bit of milk, but, based on the way things are going, I doubt that they will make it.
But wait, there's more bad news.
On Sunday, Mistletoe was due to kindle for the first time. I checked on her several times throughout the day, and finally found her sitting in a cage covered in fluffy white fur with Mistletoe's hind legs tinged with blood. There were no kits in the nest box, so I figured she had them on the floor of her cage. I carefully cleaned out her cage, expecting to find cold babies somewhere, but found none. Mistletoe seemed to be comfortable and not at all concerned with my poking around in her cage, so I thought she must have eaten her babies. Definitely awful, but it has happened once before in our rabbitry. I decided that she would be better off as a pet bunny and added her to my list of bunnies to rehome as a pet.
On Monday, my elder daughter cleaned Mistletoe's cage (she was one of her bunnies, so that was completely normal. She is a very responsible 15 year old and wants to be a vet, so she knows what is normal and what is not.) She didn't find anything amiss with her, so life carried on.
Tuesday morning's bunny chores were flown through, as my parents were popping in for a visit in the early afternoon. It was their first visit in almost a year, due to health issues, so we were looking forward to a fun afternoon. Late in the morning my youngest son (the one who had been in hospital with pneumonia the previous week) was running a fever that very quickly rose to 101.6. Entering panic mode, I called our PCP and the docs at the children's hospital to see what we should do. The consensus was to take him back to the ER for tests. My parents were already on their way, I had a sick child, dying baby bunnies (Marilla's) that I was trying to get food into, and a very messy house. Could this day get any worse? Why yes, yes it can.
The next call was to my darling husband, who came home and took our son to hospital, leaving worried, verge-of-tears me home to try to hold everything else together, while praying my heart out. Parents came, two bunnies died during their visit, kept getting updates from husband about son: Everything was fine with his blood work, kids can spike high fevers while on antibiotics, they were coming home. Yay! Some good news. Parents headed back to Pittsburgh at 6:30, husband and son arrived home 7 pm. After so much emotional turmoil all day, I was exhausted and wanted to go to bed, but bunny chores beckoned. During my time in the bunny room, I decided to say hi to Mistletoe and try to give her some nose rubs. It was then that I realized Mistletoe's food bowl was untouched from her Sunday night feeding. That was a huge uh-oh. I had given her a part of a TUMS tablet to help her contractions, along with a pinch of raspberry leaves, both of which were still on top of her food. As she hopped around her cage, I noticed her bottom didn't look quite right. Upon closer examination I realized she had a prolapse and that the kits were probably stuck inside of her. She was miserable and needed some relief. I pooped her into a tub of warm water, hoping to help her relax, but that did nothing. She was grinding her teeth in pain, so I started calling vet's offices, looking for someone who could treat a bunny after hours. Nada. I had a tough choice to make. Realizing that she was probably also experiencing GI Stasis since she has not eaten in at least 48 hours, and knowing that she would need surgery at the very least, I needed to make a judgment call to take her in a have her euthanized. She was physically exhausted, weak, and in serious pain. I knew she would not make it through the night to see our normal vet and I loved her too much to put her through even more pain. I took her to the vet and Mistletoe died last night at 11:39 pm.
We will all miss you, Mistletoe.
Amy is the Big Bunny at the Hot Cross Buns Holland Lop Rabbitry. She manages the furry bunnies as well as her own brood of five kits, with the help of her incredibly patient husband of nineteen years. Hot Cross Hoppenings will be a journal of our adventures in Holland Lop life.