Meet the most awesome, the cutest and the tiniest cottontail bunny we’ve ever seen: Mr. Awesome, aka “Spunky.”
And how did we make his acquaintance?
Ah, now therein lies a tale, Oh Best Beloved.
Last week a neighbor’s cocker spaniel found a bunny’s nest in their yard. Being a fairly typical dog, said pup “squeaked” some of the other babies, but for some reason known only to her carried this one around in her mouth for almost half an hour without chomping on it, as Baby Rabbit squealed for help throughout. The owner was able to get the bunny away from the dog and gave it to me.
He was so little–just three days old–that his ears were barely half an inch long. As soon as I had him in my hands he just snuggled in, and went right to sleep. He was so small he fit in the palm of one hand. And so soft!
We made a place for him as close to the nest as we could but still safe from the dog. Momma bunnies will search for the little ones when their nest has been disturbed, and it’s best if a baby bun is reunited with its Momma. Unfortunately, after 24 hours Momma hadn’t found and reclaimed little Spunky, so we took him to the Aves Wildlife Alliance, a brand new licensed wildlife hospital located in Neenah, Wisconsin. It’s a wonderful place! The owner, Rebekah Weiss, who has a degree in wildlife ecology and wildlife management, worked for several years as a state and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator near Milwaukee. Just this June, she opened the new Aves wildlife hospital near the Fox Cities on the grounds of a farm that’s been in her family for five generations, after moving back to the area with her husband, Dave. As of this week, Rebekah has already had over 130 patients.
Rebekah even had baby bunny formula right on hand! Wow. Baby cottontails are super hard to keep alive, from what I’ve read, and she confirmed it. Rebekah told us that Spunky is doing awesome now, and thinks he has as good a chance as possible.
Rebekah accepts all varieties of injured and truly orphaned wild critters in the Aves Wildlife Alliance hospital, except bats, deer, eagles. Just some of the wildlife I remember her mentioning that have come in as patients include chipmunks, bunnies, squirrels, possums, deer mice, owls, redtail hawks, and downy woodpeckers. You’re not allowed to see her patients or touch them, because, of course, they are wild and human contact stresses the critters, endangering their recovery.
It was super neat to see the clinic, and meet Rebekah and Dave. We’re really hoping Mr. Awesome makes it. He is an adorable little guy, and put up a real fight to survive (which is why we’ve nicknamed him “Spunky.”)
In Wisconsin, licensed wildlife rehabilitators like Rebekah may not charge for their services, so all her funding comes from donations and grants. If you’d like to help the Aves Wildlife Alliance out, donations are welcome. You can help ‘em get more baby bunny formula as well as cover the myriad of other expenses involved in running a wildlife hospital. Contact information is on the Aves Wildlife Alliance website (which is a new work in progress — it’ll have more information in the future).
BTW, the hand holding Mr. Awesome in the photo belongs to Michael. Spunky certainly felt right at home snoozing there!