We have a temporary houseguest – a baby cottontail courtesy of our cat.
I had doubts that he/she would survive the first hour, as it was hyperventilating after I chased the feline down and extracted him from her mouth.
There were no visible wounds, and the cat was carrying it by the scruff of the neck; rabbits will die from stress.
He survived the night, and is relaxed when Liz or I hold him. He is more than able to be on his own, although now that he has been in close contact with humans, he will have to be released far from civilization. His fear of humans and animals such as our dogs are his only chance of survival.
However, right now he appears unable to move his back legs enough to stand or hop,and has been having trouble with a front leg now and then. As hardy as these little suckers are, able to survive the harsh climes of the desert, they have very fragile systems.
Judging from his size, he is probably about 5-weeks old. He is very alert, resting well in a dark crate we fixed up for him, and is pooping out little healthy turds and peeing like a champ – so other than the use of his legs he appears to be healthy.
He drinks a little from an eyedropper – and the girl from the wildlife rescue shelter told us not to worry too much about water, he will get his hydration from the food. He doesn’t like celery leaf, but is munching away on the pieces of carrot, a real treat after his natural diet of dried grass and desert weeds.
At this point, I am not too optimistic that we can save him – that is unless he begins to use his legs. But at least he will be as comfortable as possible – abandoning him in the desert if he is paralyzed would be a sure death sentence.
[Edit - 9/9/14]
The poor little fellow passed shortly after I posted this column. He died quietly and I hope comfortably in the dark cubby we made for him.