Beebing the Odds, Holiday Wishes Petco Grant Winner
“Hi! I have a female rabbit which escaped from the bunny run a while back and we finally caught her in a live trap...but, she had a broken leg and was looking rather sickly...come to find out that she was pregnant and gave birth to 6 babies...the problem is that when I went to check on them for the second time today, She, (Mildred) the mama, doesn't look as though she's gong to make it...will you take the babies? I think that she might be too sickly and weak to feed them, and I would be so upset if they were to die!! :( please email me back or call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx asap..I fear for their little lives and don't know what to do!!”
It was a hot morning in July and Heather and Alex, the volunteer mother-daughter team of Red Barn Rabbit Rescue in Oregon, responded to a desperate e-mail (see above) about an injured mother rabbit trying to care for 5 seven day-old baby rabbits. Despite RBRR being at full capacity, Heather and Alex made a quick departure, unaware of the dreadful scene that awaited them. The rabbits were found in a cage outside that was rusted and full of urine soaked hay. The mother rabbit was lifeless but still breathing and on closer examination, it was obvious that she was in an extraordinary amount of pain as maggots burrowed and consumed her flesh on her urine and feces soiled rear. The babies were covered in urine and barely moving. Two of the babies were already dead. It was now a race against time and a huge challenge to beat the odds as it was obvious that the mother rabbit was not going to make it and Heather and Alex were going to have to feed the babies themselves.
Once in a carrier, the babies were examined for signs of life. Four babies were taken back to the rescue and the mother was immediately rushed to the emergency vet to be humanely euthanized. With just a 10% survival rate, these babies’ futures were up in the air. Alex, the 19 year old founder of RBRR, was determined to give them a fighting chance. A special formula was made and the babies were immediately fed. They were cleaned up, put in a warm dry nest and watched diligently. By night fall, only two babies remained. With their body temperatures back up and a little bit of formula in their tummies, Alex could only cross her fingers that they would make it through the night. Sadly, the next morning, another baby was dead. But the remaining baby, kicking and biting, was not giving up and she never did. This tiny little white baby, eyes still closed, defied the odds and fought hard to live. Alex named her Beebes. Though we knew she would not be out-of-the-woods for a few months, we continued to watch her grow and get stronger. She began taking formula on her own, and causing plenty of trouble. She quickly became an escape artist climbing the wire of her small temporary pen. She also sought comfort in her stuffed purple horse, Pony, and snuggled up to it at nap time. Beebes quickly became dependent on her human mom and did not openly trust anything else except Jake, a special-needs rabbit who was rescued in 2010 from a large hoarding situation involving nearly a hundred rabbits. Jake became one of Alex’s house rabbits shortly after his rescue and enjoyed being with Beebes (of course he also liked her food). Beebes continued to prove her determination and became a little terror as she continually climbed out of her pen, began biting and even started to try and chase Jake around the room. Of course mastering the art of climbing also proved to be beneficial to her as she was found on a couple occasions curled up next to Jake in the bedroom for some snuggle time.
Beebes continued to grow, so fast that she doubled her weight in just five days. She helped supervise chores in the rescue and enjoyed cuddle time with her human mom. It was inevitable that this little tyrant would work her way right into the heart of Alex for good. After four months, Beebes continued to be healthy and strong but her “big brother’s” health took a quick turn for the worse. Jake was fighting his own odds with malocclusion and bad molars. He ended up losing the battle but not before he raised Beebes into a young adolescent. The loss of Jake was heart breaking for Alex. It also made Alex realize that she would never be able to give Beebes up to another home so she adopted her from the rescue.
Beebes is now a little over a year old and continues to enjoy her life with Alex. Her feisty rabbitude prevails and she is in charge of the house (well she believes she is anyway). She now weighs over 9 lbs and shows no signs of any kind of developmental setbacks or issues. Beebes is not the only one that benefitted from the heroic efforts of Alex. RBRR learned vital information about formula, medical treatment, and behavior of a rabbit raised by mainly human interaction. There have been many differences in her behavior and fears from that of a normal rabbit raised with its maternal mother. She will chase us around playfully and has very little fear of strangers which is very uncommon for most rabbits.
Beebes’ story is only one of many that have taught RBRR priceless information about the rabbit world and how they can better improve the lives of their rabbits and educate other rabbit owners based on experience and research. Her journey epitomizes the work that RBRR does and will continue to do for many more years. And hopefully Beebes will be around for many more years as well enjoying her short zoomies and crazy high binkies!