Wild Baby Rabbits
Many people find wild baby rabbits after they have been weaned by their mothers and are on their own. Yes, they look very tiny and vulnerable, but the truth is they are ready to face the world. Catching these baby bunnies and giving them cow's milk or vegetables from the refrigerator is a sure way to make them sick. It may even be fatal.
So, what should you do if you find a baby rabbit? Leave them alone in most cases. One way to easily check their age with wild cottontails is to look at their forehead. Does it have a white blaze? If so, they are still with their mother. Leave them in the nest or put them back if they are away from the nest. If they don't have a white blaze, they are old enough to be on their own.
If you are unsure whether the mother rabbit is caring for the wild baby rabbits, use this old trick: Lay two twigs across the nest in an "X" pattern. When she comes to feed them, the twigs will get disturbed.
Nests built by wild rabbits are shallow hollows in the ground. They don't dig burrows like European rabbits. They sometimes also use abandoned burrows dug by other animals. Rabbit mothers only visit the nest once or twice per day for just a couple of minutes at a time. This is long enough to feed the babies. The mother then takes off; she doesn't want to attract predators to the nest. Cared for babies will have full bellies, whether you ever see the mother or not.
If you know for certain that the mother rabbit is dead, call the local wildlife rehabilitation group. If you don't know where to find them, call your state Wildlife or Fish and Game Department and explain the situation. They will be able to point you in the right direction.
Most wild baby rabbits will not survive, even with experienced rehabilitation experts. Many states also have rules about keeping wild species for any reason, so it is better to hand them over to the experts than to incur a large fine. Follow any instructions they give you to keep the babies warm until they can be relocated to the rehabilitation center.
Even if you do end up nursing them to health, do not keep them as pets. Illegal wild animals will cause you all sorts of trouble. Wild rabbits also don't tame down like domestic rabbits. They will always be nervous and skittish. Once they mature, they can be very aggressive. They have not had generations of living with people in relative safety to calm their normal behavior.
Wild rabbits produce a lot of wild baby rabbits over the course of the year because many of them do die. While it may be sad to think about, nature has never been known for its kindness. Keeping a watchful eye from a distance may be the best thing to do and let nature take its course as to whether the rabbits will live or die. This is not cruelty, just being realistic.
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