This week we’ve had a wonderful opportunity in our homeschool to enjoy unexpected lessons from nature! Spring is a great time to get out and explore as the weather is nice throughout much of the country. In Southwest Florida – it’s baby bunny season, and there are a LOT of little bunnies hopping around. Sadly, this little guy lost his mama bunny to a coyote.
Be Certain It’s an Orphan
What’s a homeschool mama to do? Well, take him in and make him a homeschool mascot, of course! My boys have the opportunity to learn first hand quite a few lessons from the experience.
*It is important to note that MOST wild bunnies you come across are NOT orphaned. The mothers do not stay with the babies during the day. We initially put the bunnies back in their nest and went back in the house. Unfortunately, we found remnants of the coyotes dinner and knew for sure that this little guy was on his own. Also, the best thing to do is to get a wildlife professional to help if you know for certain the baby is an orphan. My husband and I are both pretty adept at caring for wildlife and have been called upon to help in our area. A bunny this new was a first for us, so we have done some extra research.
Lesson and priority number one was to find out what this day-old newborn could eat. We had some great suggestions, such as kittens milk from the farm or pet store, and we went with goat milk, which was kindly (and frugally) donated by our friend’s goat.
What We’ve Learned
Just as with human newborn babies – it took him a moment to learn how to eat. There was very little, almost nothing, in his system.
We used a piece of a rubber glove and a child’s medicine syringe to feed him. The first day, he barely ate anything. With a lot of patience, he took in maybe a dropper of the fresh goat’s milk. I reminisced with the boys about their first feedings and how it took a bit of patience to get them eating too.
On day 2, our sweet baby bunny decided it was time to get serious about this eating thing. He is now feeding in the evenings, like there is no tomorrow! I also feed him a little bit in the mornings, and offer it several other times during the day and night. I hold him gently in an upright position and pay close attention that he does not aspirate.
He does best in the evenings because in the wild, the mama bunny will leave the burrow during the daylight hours. This keeps her scent from bringing in a predator to where the babies are kept.
God gave the bunnies the instinct they need to survive. By staying away from the nest, the mama is protecting her babies! As we learned, they cannot all survive. Some are food for predators. Others just won’t make it. But, by visiting the nest instead of staying there, more of them are able to make it.
As a matter of fact, it is fairly rare for these little ones to make it in captivity. We are not out of the woods by any measure. But, because I am at home, I can devote the time it will take to help give him a fair chance. He is not quite a week old. His eyes will open in a few days. He sleeps in a box with cloth comforts to re-create the nest feel . . . right in the middle of my bed. I have a heating pad on low under a portion of the box. I check on him constantly. He is growing and seems to be getting stronger, but I keep reminding my boys that he is not yet out of the woods.
We really hope he makes it and will do all we can to ensure that it is so. We are doing a rabbit study, and the boys are learning about the important role (in life and in death) that these cottontail sweeties play in the world. It is not always a gentle world. The lesson in the end may be a hard one but, for now, they are learning to be gentle, patient, and vigilant in caring for all of God’s creatures. They are learning that they have a responsibility to care for the “least of these,” in this case a slightly furry one. That gentleness will carry over into other service projects as the boys continue to learn about serving and caring for others.
As you get outside to enjoy fall (or spring!), remember that you can turn it into a wonderful learning adventure. Take a camera and a notebook to sketch pictures and notes about wildlife flora and fauna that you come across. Use it to inspire your children to WANT to learn. Your local library will provide many books to peruse, and you can watch free creation videos on a variety of topics with NW Creation Network. Answers in Genesis is a terrific free online resource with articles and videos to help you learn exciting facts about animals and nature. Download FREE Wildlife Binder and Notebooking pages from AdventuresInChildRearing HERE.
*We gathered a lot of good advice from this online source. If you find a bunny in the wild and are certain it is orphaned – contact a pro: Wildlife Rehabbers US States A- M, and Wildlife Rehabbers US States N-Z and International Rehabbers.