IF YOU FOUND A WILD BUNNY
Please consider all of the following information and then make the choice to do what is best for the bunny and its future.
People often find a single newborn (hairless) or young wild bunny in their yard. Sometimes they find more than one at a time. Since they do not see the mother bunny people usually believe the bunnies are abandoned and in need of help. This is NOT true.
Mother bunny will make a nest for her babies right on the ground in a shallow hole on the surface of the ground. She may place some nesting material such as straw and some of her own fur in the shallow area. People often find the nest with Mother Bunny no where around while they are cutting their lawn. These babies are NOT abandoned. Mother bunny IS nearby. Like deer, mother bunnies know they have a scent and their babies do not in the first few weeks after birth. She knows that if she stays near her babies she will attract predators so she stays away. She will return to her nest to feed her babies usually at dusk and dawn. Then she will leave again.
Unless you find the mother dead, we must assume she is still out there. The very best chance for survival for baby cottontail bunnies is always with their mother. Of course if there is evidence the mother has died then bring the babies to the closest Drop Off Site as soon as possible.
If you find any wild, UNINJURED cottontail bunnies, please leave them in or near their nest. DO NOT TOUCH OR REMOVE THE BUNNIES. Their mother WILL return to care for them (even if they are hairless and even if you have accidentally touched them.). Leave the nesting material AND the bunnies in the nest and do not mow the grass while the babies are present.
Wild cottontail baby bunnies are extremely sensitive and may die if handled. Cottontail bunnies, especially babies, will die suddenly and unexpectedly if they believe their life is in danger. They may actually seem fine one minute and then a short time later will be found dead. Humans represent danger and fear to wild bunnies so it is best to leave them where they are.
If a baby bunny is injured, the only choice is to transport it to a Rescue Team Drop Off Site as quickly as possible. If this is the correct choice place the baby in a shoe box with holes in the top. Fill a soda or water bottle with hot water and put it in the box with a small cloth between the baby and the hot water bottle. Resist the temptation to pet or handle the baby. It could save the baby’s life. Place holes in the lid, cover the box and get the baby to the vet at one of our Rescue Team/Drop Off Sites as soon as possible.
A small baby bunny that is fully furred can survive on its own in the wild. It is best to stop mowing until the baby (babies) has moved away from the area. It is also a good idea to secure dogs and cats in a garage or in the home while the babies are in the yard.
Do not attempt to feed the baby as this can be extremely stressful and may ultimately cause its death. Also, the wrong or improper food can be fatal. Darkness, quiet,the company of a sibling and if possible some of its nesting material will help to comfort and calm any stressed baby.
Again, uninjured baby bunnies should be left alone in their nest. Injured babies should be transported to a Rescue Team/Drop Off Site for Keeper of the Wild. Please do NOT consider keeping any baby cottontail bunnies or raising them yourself. You can do more harm than help and these animals die very easily. Even if they survive they are wild and do NOT make good pets.
Remember, like human babies baby wild mammals spend every waking moment from birth learning from others of its kind how to live and survive as what they are. They learn what they are supposed to do, who they belong with and what to eat. As prey animals Cottontail bunnies learn where it is safe to play, live, hide, sleep, eat, how to get along with others of their kind. They also learn when to stand their ground and when running away can save their lives. Wild animals that grow up with humans away from others of their kind cannot learn these survival skills and become socially damaged. They grow to believe that they belong among humans and can almost never adapt to life and survival in the wild. When they become adults and difficult to live with, then having no skills for surviving in the wild, if released they will become easy prey for the first predator that comes along.
We hope everyone will do what is truly best for any truly orphaned or injured Eastern Cottontail Bunny or any wild animal and contact an experienced wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible so the animal can be rehabilitated correctly among others of its kind and eventually return to the wild with all the skills it needs to survive.
“Until man extends compassion to all living things, he himself will not find peace.” —Dr. Albert Schweitzer