On the 5th of Jan, Damian (who was house and baby sitting for us), noticed that Grasshopper was acting strangely, and took him to the vet. An hour later, the vet called him to say that the damage was too bad, and that he had to be euthenased.
After Grasshoppers last trip to the vet, Custard had bullied him, so we separated them while Grasshoppers leg recovered. We tried bonding Custard with Blueberry and Monkey, but a fight broke out between Monkey and Custard, and I ended up with a large wound. There wasn’t enough time to bond them properly before we left, so I decided to put Custard back in with Grasshopper. There were a few scuffles, but I wasn’t worried.
I should have been. While Damian was at work, Custard attacked Grasshopper, and basically tore all the skin from his belly. There wasn’t enough skin left to sew up.
Grasshopper came to us 3 1/2 years ago as a tiny leveret, less than a week old, and far too young to be away from his mother. Someone took him to the local vet, the vet tried to look after him, but he wouldn’t eat, and they phoned me to see if I would take him in. It was either that, or the big green needle.
Dad went to pick him up from Rooty Hill, and brought this tiny frightened bundle home in a fruit box. I was told that he was a hare, but I believed that we didn’t have hares in Australia – but one look at him and I knew he wasn’t a rabbit.
You can see pictures from his first day here.
We fed him farex mixed with lactose free milk until I could get some rabbit milk replacement formula. On further research I found out that his weight indicated he was very young, and since he had been at the vet for four days, and not eaten for that entire time, he was very lucky to be alive. The survival rate of leverets who are raised by humans is very, very low.
Eventually he got bigger, and more independent. He became more skittish, and preferred to stay away from humans. He was growing into the most amazing creature I had ever seen, and though it was painful that he was drawing away from me, I understood that it was natural, and seeing him healthy was the best reward. Pictures here.
Eventually we were able to house him with Rhubarb and Custard – he had no manners, but they tolerated him.
While he remained a wild creature all his life, I loved him very much. I realise that I could never have anticipated that Custard was capable of such savagery, but I still feel guilty for placing him in danger. I also realise that he probably would have been dead years ago without my intervention, and I hope that he had a measure of comfort and joy in his time with us. He was a rare and precious jewel, and meeting him has touched the lives of many people.
Many thanks to Damian, and to mum and dad, all of whom had to take care of the vets and the body, and the decision not to tell us until we got back. I know it must have been a difficult decision to make, but I am grateful to them for keeping it until we got back – knowing sooner would have put a big dampener on our holiday, and there was nothing we could have done for him once we knew.
We will bury him tomorrow.