“I’ve got 5 baby cottontail bunnies from two different litters. One is injured. Can you take them?”
I hung up the phone, hopped in the car and was soon on my way to the bunnies’ location. A list of tasks that had to be done once the bunnies were in my care raced through my mind…. prepare formula, cage, bedding, scales, blankets, etc…. the 45 minute car ride just flew by.
Then I met Norman. Injured by a cat and on antibiotics, he looked so forlorn in the small carrier. “Here are the two litters, antibiotics for the one by himself and instructions for administration of the meds. And don’t expect the sick one to live.”
Back home, I fed the 4 healthy babies first. When they were finished, I noticed Norman was bouncing up and down in his carrier, vainly trying to escape. “You have GOT to be kidding me” was the thought running through my head. “What a wing-nut!”
It was Norman’s turn so I wrapped him up in a small blanket and administered the antibiotics. He then willingly ate his full ration of formula. Most unusual for a baby’s first feed as they don’t usually take to the formula that quickly.
Now, the Great Debate: do I put him with the others and risk an attack? Or leave him by himself? …. I opted to put him with the others since they were sleeping. I must have checked on everyone a dozen times that night. By morning, they were getting along so well that at first I had trouble identifying which one was Norman until his inquisitive nature gave him away.
Growing up …
Norman and his litter mates spent the next few weeks getting bigger, heavier and stronger.
Sometimes Norman was a little greedy …..
And sometimes there were minor disagreements such as: to whom does the dandelion leaf belong? But in general there was harmony in this special family.
Time to go …
It was with mixed feelings that I made the long journey to a meadow I had chosen for their release. I felt joy that they had made it, and sadness that I would soon be saying goodbye. My mission was nearly over and it was important not to risk any injuries to my precious cargo as we were so close to a successful release. I crossed the chosen meadow to a line of trees near some water, set their container on the ground and took off the lid.
Each baby was carefully lifted out of the container and placed on the grass. Two of the babies raced away. Norman and his remaining friends knew exactly what to do … immediately they started eating grass …. Mmmmm? …. so I waited, …. and waited …. and ……….
Finally they each moved off to explore their new world too.
Norman took one last look back before he disappeared. I knew I would miss him.
Then, one day after Norman’s release, I received phone call. It was time to prepare for another litter….