Fawns, like all baby mammals, are very much like human babies. They need to nurse, they need comfort and cuddling, and they need to sleep. Like human babies, in the first few weeks of life they need to be fed round the clock in two-hour intervals.
The first spring we received an
orphaned fawn, we learned a lot about feeding babies. At night she slept in a dog carrier in our
bedroom. The alarm clock would go off every two hours. I mixed her formula and
At first we had trouble getting
her to take the bottle. I had struggled
with her for several hours, trying to get her to nurse, but nothing
worked. Then, as my mother hovered over
her, she bumped mom’s chin and suddenly started nursing. She needed to bump an
udder in order to stimulate the nursing behavior.
She suckled voraciously. There was
much tail switching, stamping of little hooves, forelegs kneeing me as she
inhaled the milk. All feedings were like
that. Sometimes in her eagerness to get the bottle, she would actually snatch
it out of my hand.
At first, she took only a third to
a half a bottle of milk per feeding. As she
matured, we increased to a full bottle per feeding, then two bottles. I learned to keep two bottles ready. She
would literally suck one bottle flat before I could pull it out of her mouth
and cram the next one in!
When she was about a month, she no longer
needed night feedings. Thank goodness!
Along with the feedings, came the
“diapering”. Fawns, like puppies and
kittens, cannot relieve themselves without their mother stimulating them by
licking their little bottoms. (yecch). I wasn’t about to lick her, so I used a
warm wet washcloth. I would hold a
disposable diaper under her to catch the “overflow”.
After about a month, we no longer
needed diapering. She continued to nurse until weaning, some time in November.