What You Should Know!
Rabbit Nest Description
cottontail rabbits "nest" in shallow holes dug in the ground
by the mother rabbit. Nests are often found in people’s lawns, gardens
or shrubs. The mother rabbit lines the shallow hole with fur pulled from
her body and covers it and her babies with a mixture of dry grass and
twigs to hide it from predators.
How A Mother Rabbit Feeds Her
mother rabbit feeds her babies 2 to 3 times a day. Once before early
morning (dawn) and a couple of times right after it gets dark (dusk).
She squats over the top of the nest so the babies can reach up and nurse
mother rabbit does NOT continually sit on the nest or stay with
the baby bunnies. Doing so would signal carnivorous (meat eating) birds
and animals (like owls and fox) as to where her babies are living. By
staying away from the nest, it protects them.
Problems for Rabbits
many rabbits nest in yards, they are likely to get run over with
lawnmowers, struck by weedwhackers or caught by pet dogs and cats.
What To Do If a Nest is
If a nest
of baby rabbits is accidentally uncovered by a lawnmower, rake, shovel,
or weedwhacker, carefully check to make sure the bunnies are not hurt,
cut, or bleeding. If they are NOT hurt, put them back in the nest
and cover them up. When putting bunnies back in the nest (especially
older ones), they will "pop" up trying to hop. This is normal.
long thin twigs or two pieces of string in an "X" across the
top of the nest. Check the nest AFTER the mother has had time to
feed them (usually the next day). If the "X" is moved, the
mother has uncovered the nest to feed her babies. Now just leave them
alone. This may mean mowing around a small patch in the yard for a short
"X" is NOT moved, then carefully uncover the nest and
feel the babies to see if they are warm. If they are still okay, check
again after the next feeding time. Be aware that sometimes the babies
nurse by pushing straight up through the nest covering and therefore do
not disturb the string. The real test is the body temperature and
activity of the babies. If they are cold and limp, then they need to be
rescued. Remove the babies from the nest. Keep them in a small, dark,
covered box with holes punched in the lid. Warm the bunnies by
positioning a heating pad, set on LOW, under HALF the box. Other ways to
warm the babies are to fill a ziplock bag or rubber glove with warm
water and place it in the box, or microwave a dish towel for 25 seconds
(only warm enough that you can place the towel over your face) and use
that. Do NOT put fresh green grass in the box because the
moisture in it will chill them. You may line the box with paper towels.
Do NOT pet or handle the bunnies because they stress easily. They
may look calm but they are actually just very scared. Do NOT feed
the bunnies anything including any kind of milk, water, honey, eggs or
homemade formula because their stomachs will not tolerate it. Call a
Wildlife Rehabilitator for help as soon as possible.
What to Do for Bunnies That Are
Attacked by Pets
bunnies are caught by a cat or dog and have been bitten, put them in the
warm, dark box (see instructions above) and call a Wildlife
Rehabilitator for help. Cats have bacteria (germs) in their mouths that
will cause a rabbit to die, usually within 3 days, if left untreated.
Determining Which Bunnies Should
Be In The Nest
that are pink with little or no fur, with closed eyes, and with ears
still flat to their bodies should still be in the nest. Baby rabbits
stay in the nest for about 4 weeks. They leave the nest when they are
about 4" or 5" long and the white diamond shaped patch of fur
on their forehead is almost gone. They will also have fluffy fur, their
eyes will be open and their ears will stand up away from their bodies.
They will look like tiny adults and are supposed to be on their own
without their mother. Leave these bunnies alone unless they are injured.
Touching Baby Bunnies/Misconception
Touching baby bunnies
will NOT make the mother abandon (leave) them. This is a common
misconception people mistakenly have.
look like the photo to the right are out of the nest. Their eyes are
open, their ears are up and their fur is fluffy. They are about the
size of your fist and able to jump quickly.
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