The squeal of a rabbit is about the same decibel as the cry of a newborn baby. A frequency that alerts and upsets women long before men. At 2:30am this morning I was suddenly alerted to, and upset that there was a crisis in our rabbit colony, I’d heard the squeal through my bedroom window. With Grover dog at my heels, I thundered up the stairs and out the back door. Thankful that our bedroom window was part of the 4th wall of our rabbit enclosure, or I never would have heard a thing!
Outside, barefoot in the snow, I see what I knew I’d find. A fox was inside our rabbit colony, and upon seeing Grover, LOST HIS MIND trying to get out. Farm dog Grover was in ALL his glory, barking up a storm and running around the enclosure. Trying to get at that fox through the wire walls. I, being super helpful, was yelling at the fox to get out of there. The whole house was now awake.
I called to Captain Schenanigans that there was a fox in the run, and he staggers up the stairs in a haze. By now, I’ve realized the fox is unable to leave, and watched him throw his whole body face first into each wall of the pen repeatedly. The stench of fox pee is in the air. Yuck.
After failing to find his freedom, I stomped through the snow barefoot in my nightgown, flipped up the lid of the pen, and watched that fox light out of there in a mad panic. Grover dog, God love him, is HOT on that foxy tail and doesn’t let up the entire way across the yard. I have never been prouder of that dog! I really though he was gonna get that sneaky fox. But, honestly, Grover just loves to chase anything. I doubt biting was even on his scattered little mind.
Flipped the lid back down, I retrieved my boots and set about inspecting damage. Captain headed inside to reassure the kids all was well, and both Schenaniganlets ended up in our bed. They hate fox stories.
I saw the hole the fox had dug under the fence (he’d started it three days ago, but I kept covering it up with rocks and lumber, thinking it was the rabbits trying to get out), and upon only seeing one of the two doe bunnies in the cage, lay down in the snowy mud to look through the tunnel for doe #2, Padame. A red eyed white New Zealand who was new to us and less than a year old.
I saw a white nose and paws in the dark, shadowy tunnel. They weren’t moving. She was dead. But I couldn’t reach her from this side of the fence, the tunnel opening was too small. Guess a wild fox is skinnier than a meat rabbit. Who knew?
I crawled back up off the wet snow, entered the pen and laid back down on my belly inside the colony. I peered down the other opposite end of the tunnel. I saw bunny booty, but no blood. That actually kinda surprised me. Guess she must have broken her back. I get up, retrieve a battery powered lantern from the kitchen, and get a second look at the front of the tunnel. I reached in to touch a paw, and it moved back slightly. I was pretty sure I saw it more. I think. Then I noticed a twitching nose. She’s not dead! But she’s not okay, either.
Rabbits are known to literally die of fright. They are not hearty creatures. So if this one was in shock, and not bleeding, I planned to leave her alone. Yanking her out just might have pushed her over the edge, better to let her come out on her own. I snapped of my lantern, headed back into the house, and cleaned all the manure, mud, and snow off my knee caps and shins. My nightgown was covered in filth, so I pitched it into the laundry and redress. Still shaken with the nights startling events.
My bed was filled with children, who were filled with questions. We did a quick family debrief in the dark to prevent further worry, reassured them that their pet rabbits, Luke and Hops, were in the safest cage we had, and no, nothing bad would happen to them tonight. Yes, Grover was a hero. No, Mommy wouldn’t be crawling back into that bed. I chose the nearby couch and hoped sleep would come. It didn’t.
My mind raced about how to protect my rabbits, what more I could have done, and how could I blog this all up? 🙂 When I got up an hour later to see if schools would be delayed (we’d had 2 snow days this week and it was only Wednesday), I popped a Melatonin and crawled back under more covers. It worked.
Come 8am I headed back outside, laid in the snow in yet another pair of jammies (I don’t have clothes designated to laying in snow), only to see that Padame had not moved at all. I gently removed her from the back of the tunnel, and she released all her bladder on to me. Adult rabbits have never peed on us before, only the kits do that. Padame was scared, and not well. She held her ears at a funny angle, had scabby lumps on her head. She wasn’t hopping. But there was no blood anywhere!? Huh.
I got 9am vet appointment and sure enough, my girl had two puncture wounds on her head, one shallow, one deep, and her winter coat had covered them over. Had she not screamed, she would have been a goner. She also had a sore hip, and after a head shaving and would cleaning, came home on antibiotics and pain medication. A hundred dollar vet bill for a ten dollar rabbit. But if you’re not going to cull an injured animal, you have to treat the pain, no matter what. I skipped x-rays of the hip, we wouldn’t have done surgery anyway, but infection and pain management are must-do’s for animal care. Padame was hopping and kicking enough to show us she could use her hip, she just didn’t want to.
So now there is a second doe in the house, sharing the foyer with Honey, our newest mother bunny. Padame’s in a cage on the other side of to room to avoid any stress of another doe, and we hoped to convince Honey no one was going after her growing family. Well, except Grover who tended to like to taste the rabbits. Farm-dog-in-training.
We’d also lost a baby rabbit today from last week’s herd. It had gotten it’s head stuck in the fencing. Not a great day for bunnies, but considering how long we’d gone since an incident, not too shabby. Yes, my rabbits would be completely safe in small wire cages like all the other breeders use. But they wouldn’t be able to run, hide, dig, or snuggle on those biting metal wires. I’d rather their lives have more physical freedom and enjoyable moments, than total safety with depression and sore hocks. We could say the same for our children. A life in a bubble is no life at all.