Feeding Wild Rabbits
Many people may discourage you from feeding wild rabbits. If you are attracting adult wild rabbits to your yard, you may end up with more damage to your landscaping than you think. Once the rabbits find a place with lots of treats they like, they'll spread the word and you may be overrun before you know it.
If this becomes a problem you may find yourself looking for some type of rabbit repellent, pest control, or rabbit traps
If you have dogs or cats, you may also be placing the rabbits in danger, especially if they build a nest nearby. Wild baby rabbits often won't survive an attack by dogs or cats due to the stress. Another danger if they build nests nearby is running over the nest with the lawnmower.
American wild rabbits don't dig burrows like European rabbits; they build nests in existing hollows or brush. This puts the nest at risk more frequently from lawn equipment, pets and other dangers.
Small wild rabbits with open eyes and a full coat of fur are most likely on their own already or close to it. They should do fine if you just set them outdoors in a brushy area where they are safe from pets and equipment.
If the rabbit has little fur and the eyes are not open, they are between 1 and 7 days old and will need a warm nest. If you know where the nest was, you can try putting the baby back inside and covering it with grass and leaves.
When feeding wild rabbits, mother rabbits can feed their litter in only a couple of minutes and usually will stay away from the nest during daylight hours to avoid attracting predators to the nest. This is normal. If you check the baby the next morning, she has probably been there. The baby should have a full, round belly if it nursed during the night.
Young babies need a liquid diet. Rabbit milk is thick and extremely rich to help the babies grow so quickly. Rabbit milk is full of antibodies to keep the babies healthy and good bacteria that rabbits need to digest the plants and roots they eat as adults.
This is the hardest thing to provide to babies when feeding wild rabbits. Cow and goat milk just aren't nearly as rich as rabbit milk. Probiotics may help, but they are not the same. The best way to help populate the baby's gut with the bacteria they need is to feed them rabbit cecotropes.
Cecotropes are the soft, smelly feces that rabbits excrete. They often eat them themselves so the food will pass through their system a second time before coming out as the hard round balls that we all associate with rabbit droppings. Each bunny can ingest a small, pea-sized amount every day. Do not mix it with formula or the delicate bacteria can be harmed. If you have a pet rabbit, its cecotropes will work well if it doesn't eat too rich of a diet.
One of the fastest ways to lose a wild bunny when feeding wild rabbits is to overfeed it. They are very cute and seem so helpless; it is very easy to just keep feeding it. Stop feeding the moment the bunny doesn't seem greedy for the milk. Feeding too infrequently will also cause the bunny to overfeed. Since any formula you use will not be as rich as rabbit milk, it is important to feed them often.
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