Think you’ve found some wild rabbits that need help? Before you do ANYTHING,
and read this article from the House Rabbit Society: FAQ: Orphaned Baby Bunnies. Still think you need help? Here are some contacts of people who can help with wild bunnies. Please speak slowly when leaving a message.
Desert Hills (N. Tatum Area)
SE Valley / Pinal County
Regina: 602.292.2292 text only
Delphia Strickland – Arizona Wild Rescue
North Scottsdale 480.532.1945
Liberty Wildlife: 480 998.5550
We mark with great sorrow the passing of Ruth Scott on April 5, 2013.
Ruth spent decades of her life caring for newborn or injured cottontails, along with squirrels and other small animals. Her passing is an enormous loss that can barely be put into words. The following article appeared in the September 2, 2004 Arizona Republic and highlights the terrific work done by Ruth in Paradise Valley:
“Bunny Lady” Opens Home to Creatures
Ruth Scott reaches into one of the glass aquariums that line her kitchen counter and corners a skittery cottontail about the size of a lemon. She cradles the ball of fur under her chin and strokes his tiny ears.
When he settles, she raises an eyedropper of warm goat’s milk to his mouth and watches him suckle. Neighbors refer to Ruth, 79, as “the bunny lady,” the guardian angel of small, wild creatures.
She keeps an emergency kit in her car, veterinarians call her when people bring in bunnies caught by cats and police officers drop off injured bunnies hit on the road. She’s had bunnies delivered by yard workers, doctors and appellate judges. Some give her donations, $10 or $20. A couple of Catholic sisters once gave her $2 when they dropped off a bunny. Most arrive with nothing. In her kitchen, pieces of yellow paper taped to the aquariums give the truncated histories of the occupants: “cat attack,” “covered in mud and dog saliva,” “hit by car (broken leg).”
She can have 30 or so at one time, fewer babies in the winter, but the flow of injured is constant. The patients munch on carrot shavings, orange sections and slices of green apple, their bunny noses moving in circles. There are two rock squirrels, one that came in with a wound on his back and head, probably a cat attack, the other dragging his hind legs because of a spinal injury, both now ready for release. In another room is a pack rat, brought in as a baby. A bedroom holds an incubator and cages of older bunnies awaiting freedom. The atrium is home to a prairie dog.
Ruth worries about the bunny she is feeding. A bulldozer dug up his nest at a construction site. He was the only survivor. He arrived with his eyes still closed and quickly developed diarrhea, a sign of bacteria that takes hold when mother’s milk is taken away. He’s been here four weeks, longer than many. His nose wiggles as he suckles eyedropper after eyedropper full until his belly swells like a balloon.
Ruth’s avocation began about 20 years ago when she found a newborn bunnywhile working in her Paradise Valley yard. The bunny was coal black, no fur, long ears. She didn’t know what to do. So she called her son-in-law, Donald Holmes, who was in veterinary school. He told her he hadn’t learned anything about wild rabbits. She called working vets; they dealt only with domestic rabbits. She called places that took injured wildlife; they dealt only with raptors, tortoises or large mammals. Nobody, it seemed, cared about a baby bunny. Ruth felt like the predator was considered more important than the prey. To her, they were all God’s little creatures. The prey deserved life as long as it had it, even if it would eventually be eaten.
She began reading everything she could find about rabbits. She learned that desert cottontails are born hairless with their eyes closed and can grow to a couple of pounds at most, while black-tailed jackrabbits, actually hares, are born fully furred with eyes open and grow from three to five pounds.
She learned they had very fragile bones. Several came in with broken backs from flailing while people held them. She began to wrap them in a small cloth to pick them up. She learned how to give subcutaneous fluids, how to search for small tears in the fur, how to use medical superglue to close the wounds because the delicate skin would tear with sutures. She tried kitten and puppy food and settled on goat’s milk as the best replacement for mother’s milk. She got supplies and medications at cost from her son-in-law, now a practicing vet, who also put pins in broken bunny legs, an operation that normally would cost about $1,200. Eventually, Ruth quit working for hospice because they seemed to have plenty of volunteers. She concentrated on saving bunnies. She knows some people think she’s kind of crazy, that it’s the law of nature for these bunnies to die. But to her, nature has been disrupted by cats and dogs.
A coyote, a fox or a snake might need to eat a rabbit to live. Ruth says she’s argued with God about that. But domestic animals certainly don’t. She has helped train others to rescue rabbits and hopes to someday ease back on the numbers she takes in.
On this warm afternoon, she takes the two rock squirrels to an easement near a greenbelt. There, under a mesquite tree that had blanketed the ground with seedpods, she releases them. A few yards down the path, where the grass is perpetually green, she releases two cottontails.
Four more souls run and hop through the leaves.
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