A LITTER of orphaned wild rabbits have found an unlikely foster parent at an animal rescue centre – a male Chihuahua.
The three-day-old babies were uncovered in a compost heap last week and are too small to fend for themselves.
They are now being hand-reared by Sheila Stewart, owner of Capricorn Animal Rescue in Padeswood, with help from surrogate father Mitch.
Sheila said: “A man brought the litter in along with their nest after he found them when he moved a compost heap.
“They are tiny and I am feeding them every few hours with milk through a syringe.
“After I’ve finished feeding them, Mitch comes along and washes and grooms each one.
“He seems to have adopted them.”
Two-year-old Mitch, who was brought in to the centre when he was just six months old, has been unable to find a home because of his tendency to chew everything around him – except baby rabbits.
Sheila added: “He eats and chews absolutely anything he can find – feathers, cloths and even razor blades.
“I have had to take him to the vet so many times, I’ve been told he’ll glow in the dark if he has any more X-rays.”
Sheila added: “He is a real character and is so good with all the other animals.”
But Mitch will be only able to look after his adopted babies for another few weeks, until they are released back into the wild.
“I will feed them until they are big enough to feed themselves and then we will stop handling them,” said Sheila.
“That way they remain wild and will be able to look after themselves when we release them at about eight or nine weeks old.
“It is quite common for us at this time of year to take in litters of wild rabbits, because their nests get disturbed when people are cleaning up gardens.”
Sheila is also trying to a find homes for three four-month-old collie cross puppies, who were about to be shot by a farmer.
If you can offer a home to the puppies or any of the animals at the rescue centre, call 01244 547938.