For a long time I thought I was the only one.
24 years ago all I knew about breastfeeding was I was going to do it. 23 years ago I knew a bit more, but not much. That healthy baby boy was all I needed to know that I had the stuff! I made milk that grew perfection.
What I didn’t know is the nature of species specificity. Human milk is high in lactose and relatively low in protein. The thing that makes us most human, our brain, is built from lactose. Yeah, we need a bit of protein, some fat and about 300 other minor components but LACTOSE is the name of the game for brain growth. That’s also why human babies need to breastfeed so often; sweet milk doesn’t stick to the gut for very long at a time.
Baby bunnies on the other hand only nurse twice a day. Bunny milk is very high in protein and not so sweet. It lasts and lasts in those little bunny guts. Mommy bunny can hop off and forage all day long, secure in the knowledge that the little ones will not be attracting predators by crying out in hunger. Dusk and dawn is the time that baby bunnies nurse. Momma bunny comes to the nest, settles in for a quick suckle then hops away for another long stretch.
Unless some dumb young human, enamored with her own sense of awe and power, comes to the “rescue”. Sometimes momma bunnies do die, but usually the mother bunny is just fine and off doing what mamma bunnies do during that long time between dawn and dusk. Baby bunnies in the grass that look well are best left for momma bunny to tend on her own schedule. Sometimes hubris steps in instead of common sense. For ones so sure no cow milk would pass the lips of our own infants, what else could explain our stupidity. Humans need human milk, calves need cow’s milk and bunnies need rabbit milk.
Comparing notes with my fellow early lactation consultants (we were a zealous group at best and the field and knowledge base was limited) it seems quite a few baby bunnies died in the 70s and 80s while we began our mothering and lactation educations experimenting on our firstborns along with the odd stray bunny. Most of the baby bunnies lasted less than 24 hours on their diet of breast milk fed by droppers or doll bottles every 3 hours. I expect it was an extremely elevated blood sugar but I know enough now to know I don’t really know.
Other interspecies lactation stories: