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Tiny sutures for a tiny patient

Baby Eastern cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus

Last week, Clinic Director Arianna Mouradjian called to ask if I could suture a wound on a baby bunny. He was one of the first babies of the year.

I asked her to zip me a text with a photo, hoping we could glue the wound instead. As you can see, he was indeed tiny, and too small to use any type of anesthetic safely.

He had a deep wound across the top of his scalp that extended to his unopened right eye causing it to droop open a bit. She was absolutely right - he needed a few stitches.

Arianna arrived within the hour. With my technician holding the little rabbit as still as possible and my magnification loops to see as well as possible, I placed several tiny (5-0) sutures to close the wound. I asked Arianna what she thought about the eye - should we suture the lid to keep it closed a bit in case the wound deformed the skin around the eye? She didn't think so, pointing out how rapidly young rabbits grow and that his eyes should be opening any day now. We agreed to keep the eye moist with ointment in the meantime. Fortunately, he barely seemed to notice the procedure and was soon back with the other babies.

A week later, Arianna sent me another photo showing that the wound had healed remarkably well. Even after all these years as a veterinarian, I continue to be amazed at how quickly wild animals recover from injuries. I also appreciate the opportunity to help. There is no better feeling than knowing you have given a wild animal a second chance to live.

See you at the Wildlife Baby Shower!

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