The time I milked a Bushbaby

Updated: Jan 18

Yes you read that right, and no this isn't Meet the Fockers. I have seen and experienced first hand the crazy things that happen when you are raising animals. When dealing with exotics there is little to no information available online to learn about tough situations like mother rejecting a baby. You can sometimes find similar species and take information from them but its never 100%. At the time I am writing this I have hand raised hundreds of different baby animals, if its not in the thousands by now.

A few years ago one of our Bushbabies was due to give birth. She birthed a big baby, but refused to nurse the baby. When we first came upon her and her new baby on day 1 the baby was left in the corner of her nest box, not in her blanket where mom was resting. This is a bad sign. Moms should cradle their babies up to their tummies to keep them warm and so they can nurse. They also exhibit strong instincts and are protective of their babies. Something was wrong. We never want to take a baby from its mother earlier than we need to, certainly never on day one unless we have no choice. My gut was telling me that we needed to take the baby, so after a few hours of monitoring the mom and baby we decided that the baby had a better chance being hand reared.

Mom normally caring for baby bushbaby, tucking under her chest

We warmed the baby and gave him some oral hydration. (Always, always, always, warm first then hydrate before feeding) We realized the baby had not gotten a sufficient amount of colostrum if any. I had the idea to attempt to milk the mom, by gently squeezing her teats we were able to produce several precious drops of liquid for the baby to eat. This process was difficult, we handled the mom gently so we would not stress her out too much. The mom thankfully seemed full of milk and even though we only got a few drops out each time it filled the tiny baby's tummy up.

Bushbaby milk

The baby was tiny but thankfully healthy when he was born. I fed him throughout the night and he was nice and wiggly the next day. We milked the mom only a few times, so the baby had about 1 or 2 days worth of the good stuff. When we ran out we put him on a special formula of human replacer, nutrical and puree bananas. He began eating every 2 hours around the clock for two weeks. Then I was able to move him to every 3 hours for another couple of weeks.

Bushbaby @ 1 day old

Getting bigger! Bushbaby 4 weeks old

Big ears! 4 weeks old

Look at these fingers! 4 weeks old

By the time he was 4 weeks old he was eating some solid foods and making huge progress. He had gained a ton of weight and was very active and playful.

Im a big boy now! 8 weeks old Bushbaby

He made it to 8 weeks old and was successfully added to our breeding program and has been a thriving member. From this experience we are better equipped to handle other similar neonate emergencies.

It takes full time commitment to raising exotics and it is not always a happy outcome. These stories and clips are the amazing miracles that happen every day at JEAR, and I am so proud of what we accomplish. 😍🐒

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