LAST week saw the arrival of five tiny rabbit kits from County Meath at the shelter.
Dan Donoher of Kildare Animal Foundation writes the Pet Rescue column every week in the Leinster Leader.
A man had been doing some work in his garden with a digger and an eagle eyed helper noticed the nest been dug up.
He quickly alerted the man driving the digger and the nest was recovered and placed into a box. They were then driven to a local dog rescue in Meath who then contacted us.
Everything was set up for when they arrived so that they could be warmed and given some special milk, the closest possible substitute to their mother’s milk. When I opened the box there was five tiny bald, deaf and blind rabbit kits no more than three days old.
I knew then that it was going to be a huge challenge and would require everything I had learned from hand rearing numerous animals over the years.
No matter how good and dedicated you are, you just can’t be as good as the real thing and if at all possible orphan wildlife is always reunited with their parents as quickly as they can be to give them the best chance possible at survival.
Once warmed up, they were giving their first feed. It takes time and patience to get them to feed as you don’t want the milk going in on their lungs.
At each feed they started to drink more and more and by the second evening they were doing well and had doubled the amount of milk drank from the day before.
Sadly on the second evening, one of the little kits passed away.
It is always heart-breaking when you lose one but you must keep going to try and save the rest.
Once they reach the 10 – 14 day mark their eyes will open and they start to move around. They will then look like mini versions of their parents.
It’s at around three weeks old that they will be weaned and be able to look after themselves.
They will then be moved to an outside enclosure where they will learn to be “wild”. After a couple of weeks the kits and the pen will be moved to a suitable release site where they will remain for another few weeks and will be fed by a volunteer once a day.
Once they have settled and have got use to the goings on around them, the pen door will be open and they will be returned to the wild.
We will continue to feed them at this pen for a further few weeks just so they will be able to come back to the pen if they need food.
If you wish to keep up to date on the kits progress or any of our other wildlife cases please find our wildlife page on Facebook - www.facebook.com/KildareAnimal FoundationWildlifeunit.