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About 1 week old cottontail rescue, need help!

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Diaa

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Before anyone starts jumping on (or off) the bandwagon about it, I HAVE TRIED MULTIPLE TIMES FOR ALMOST A WEEK to get a hold of a rehabber, to no avail, presumably because of covid.

Now... That aside, I took in 2 of 3 baby rabbits last Friday because their 3rd sibling died at only about 4 days old, as the mother was NOT feeding or taking care of them. They weren't even in a nest - just laying on the ground under the tree in our front yard.

I've been nursing them with a glass dropper and evaporated milk, and stimulating them to potty with a damp q-tip, and they've been doing VERY well, except for the following issues with the smaller one... She (I assume it's female as she's much smaller than the one I assume to be male but of course it's just speculation right now) has had much more trouble walking than the bigger one, and will frequently fall over and is not able to get herself back up without help... I also have noticed today she seems to be drooling a bit. She's also been hunched over very tightly, and sticks to the corner of the plastic pan/tub I've had them in with a towel in it, and seems to always be seeking warmth by cuddling as close as she can to anything near her, be it her sibling or me or the towel folds. Her urine is also EXTREMELY pungent... Should I be worried? Is there anything I can do for her? Again, I've tried since the day I found the dead sibling to contact the local rehabbers (TWO of them), and neither one has so much as responded to me...

I found this template below on another post, and will fill it out for my own situation, just to cover all my bases...

Location: Delaware

Description (Breed, color, weight): wild cottontail, about 2 oz give or take? Estimate - I don't have a scale small enough to weigh.

Age: Approximately 1 week

Sex: unknown at this time

Concise Summary of the Rabbit's Condition:
has had much more trouble walking than the bigger sibling, and will frequently fall over and is not able to get herself back up without help... I also have noticed today she seems to be drooling a bit. She's also been hunched over very tightly, and sticks to the corner of the plastic pan/tub I've had them in with a towel in it, and seems to always be seeking warmth by cuddling as close as she can to anything near her, be it her sibling or me or the towel folds. Her urine is also EXTREMELY pungent...

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION / CHECK LIST: (Please fill in relevant info).

Fecal and Urinary Output

- are the bunny's poops and pees normal? Poop is normal, pee is VERY strong smelling
- when did they last use their litterbox? This morning around 8am (it's now almost 4pm).
- any unusual behavior? straining to pee? unusual litter habits? See above sections - also squirms a fair amount when I stimulate her to potty, though it may or may not be normal.
- what litter and/or bedding do you use? Paper towels that are thrown away after stimulation and clean up.

Medical History

- spayed/neutered? Not yet
- has s/he been to the vet or been sick before? N/A
- is s/he on any medications? No

Diet

- what specifically does your bunny eat? Evaporated milk in a glass dropper, about 5 cc 2x daily (before bed and when I wake up, about 10pm and 8am respectively).
- when and what did s/he eat last? 8am this morning.
- any changes in the way s/he eats? (ie: not eating a particular food, odd chewing motions, etc): No


Other

- movement - any unusual movements? Is s/he hopping normally? See above
- is the rabbit molting? No
- any weight loss? No
- any sign of drooling? wet face? Yes
- runny eyes? No
- wet nose? coughing? sneezing? No
- is s/he breathing normally? Yes

Additional

- any plants, chocolate or other substances within reach? No
- has the rabbit been outdoors? Not since I brought them in.
- any other pets? if so, have they been ill? Yes, 2 cats and a dog, but not sick and have been strictly separated.
 

JBun

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Drooling and falling over would indicate there is something potentially serious going on there. It could have to do with what they are being fed. Evaporated milk isn't the usual milk to be hand feeding baby rabbits. A condensed version of kmr is more commonly used, as 3 parts powder kmr, 3 parts water, to 1 part heavy cream(plain unwhipped). Rabbit milk is high in fat, protein, and nutrients, so it's hard to find an imitation of that, but aside from buying a special powdered milk online, the kmr mixture is as close as you can get.

It may be that the evaporated milk isn't providing enough of the needed nutrients and that baby is just more sensitive to the effects than the other one. It could also be that the baby is having a bad reaction to the evaporated milk. Using cows milk isn't usually recommended for baby rabbits and it could be it's causing stomach cramping and the other symptoms. If she is still alive at this point, I would try switching to the kmr mixture immediately. If it's just a bad reaction to the cows milk, hopefully this will solve the issue

Another possibility is that the baby aspirated some of the milk(common with trying to hand feed baby rabbits) and has now developed aspiration pneumonia. In which case it's not likely to survive. An appropriate antibiotic could be attempted, but that would be a difficult thing in such a small kit.

One other thing is that the baby may be seeking out warmth because the makeshift nest isn't staying warm enough. Usually baby rabbits in the nest would have a pile of moms fur covering and insulating them. So without that they will need extra help staying warm. I would either provide a corner of the nest with a safe heating pad of some sort. Just part of the nest. If they get too warm they need to be able to move away from the heat. Or some other way to help keep them warm. A rabbit(baby or otherwise) that is hypothermic won't do well and won't want to eat. So it's essential for them to have a normal body temp to do well.
 

Diaa

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Thank you so very much for your help! I truly appreciate it, because I've grown so attached to these babies, but especially her! I cried so much last night worrying about her, and though she still seems under the weather today, I was so relieved to see her still alive and seemingly doing at least somewhat better!

I asked the local pet store if they have KMR, but they're out of it as is Walmart... What do you think about goat's milk, as that was another recommendation on the article I found? I worry that ordering KMR online may take too long, but I don't want to keep giving them this if it's making them sick... 😢
 

JBun

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Temporarily goats milk would be better than cows milk. If you can find powdered that would be the best option so that you can make the same ratio mixture that you would have made with the powdered kmr. The liquid goats milk just isn't condensed enough in nutrients. But if the liquid is all you can find then I would just suggest adding the heavy cream to it to boost the fat levels.
 

JBun

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You said the urine was really smelly. Are you sure it's urine you're seeing and smelling, and not yellow diarrhea? Because yellow diarrhea would mean you've got a completely different problem going on.
 

Diaa

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You said the urine was really smelly. Are you sure it's urine you're seeing and smelling, and not yellow diarrhea? Because yellow diarrhea would mean you've got a completely different problem going on.
It was urine; it was way too liquidy to be even runny diarrhea.
I'm going to get some KMR tomorrow, provided the places by my bf's work aren't out of stock, too. There's 2 places up there that carry it... Hopefully they're not out of stock as well.

Thank you so very much for your help... I joined a Facebook group for advice as well, but all they wanted to do is be nasty about it and say she's dying and not actually try to offer any advice... Left that place real quick...
 

JBun

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That's really good it's not diarrhea. So hopefully it's just the milk causing the problems, and things improve once it's changed. Crossing my fingers it all works out. I know how concerning and stressful it can be when trying to help little buns that aren't doing well.
 

Diaa

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Thank you so very much. And yes, it is... As I said, I've only had them since Friday but I already love them both so much...
 

Diaa

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...I woke up Thursday morning at 8 to find she had died in the night... And Thursday night around 6, he died as well... I think, after talking to my dad about what happened, that she may have had neurological issues, and that's why the mother abandoned them... And I honestly think he died just from grief, because he was acting 100% fine and normal, running around and being alert and playful, until out of nowhere, he just laid down and stopped breathing... I let him say goodbye to her for a couple hours, and then gave him a stuffed toy to snuggle with, a bottle cap that he took interest in playing with, and kept cuddling with him and petting him and giving him attention and playing with him, but it apparently wasn't enough... And now I'm absolutely heartbroken... I only had them a week but I still had grown to love them both so much... 😢
 

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