I just wanted to share a nice story that ended a long day this week. I got a call around 9.30 at night from a client who was fostering a rabbit, Sandy, and her kittens (rabbit babies)
The client said the mother had been slowly getting weaker for the last few hours and now was hardly moving. The kittens were only 3 weeks old but doing really well and already starting to wean. When I arrived the rabbit really did look near death, barely responsive and unable to lift her head.
We checked her blood glucose and it was really low so after discussing with the family we decided to give her some intravenous glucose – 3 minutes later she bounced up and ravenously started eating carrots and leafy greens and the yummy lucerne rabbit pellet.
She hasn’t looked back since and the distraught little boy who was caring for her was now beaming from ear to ear. We decided to keep the kittens off her for the rest of the night so she could get her strength back but the next day she was bright and ready to look after her kittens again though we’ll wean them quickly!
The good mother rabbits (and cats and dogs) will give everything they have to their newborns so the babies can get the best nourishment and care but sometimes this costs the mother dearly and with Sandy, nearly her life! They give all their energy and nutrients to the milk and the babies and forget they need some too! It is really important to ensure that lactating mothers can eat all they want of high energy food, so they can keep up with giving the high energy milk to their babies and have some left over for themselves too! Most good mothers will lose weight while lactating but then usually gain it back once the babies are weaned.
As an aside, sometimes people tell me that they want to have kittens or puppies with their pets and that’s why they don’t de-sex them but it is important to recognise that sometimes it doesn’t go according to plan and the outcome is often not what you may expect. The best way to deal with this is either to decide it is for the breeders (professionals) to have the litters, or to make sure you have all the information you need to give the best care to your little pet “parents”.