With the expansion in the wild rabbit population in urban areas, finding a nest of newborn bunnies is becoming more common. Unfortunately, individuals destroy wild baby rabbit nests and transport the baby bunnies to their homes.
A wild newborn rabbit necessitates the attention of a veterinarian or a properly qualified wildlife rehabilitator to live in a house. As a result, the vast majority of wild young bunnies are unable to live in houses.
What should you do with a wild newborn rabbit? You can care for a wild baby rabbit at home. Choose a comfortable spot for the wild newborn rabbit, feed him, allow him to relax for 2-3 days, and then release him from the cage. Mother rabbits have no problem accepting wild newborn bunnies, even if they come from people.
You must understand what happens if you take a wild baby rabbit from the nest; you must instantly return the baby bunny to the nest to ensure their life. If the nest is destroyed, quickly repair it and place the newborn rabbit inside.
In some areas, keeping a young rabbit in the house without a rehabilitator license is unlawful. Contact a veterinarian or animal rehabilitator right away if you locate a newborn bunny and truly wish to care for it.
Wild rabbits frequently build their nests in places that baffle us… sometimes right in the MIDDLE of an open yard. They are “hiding in plain sight” because they naturally fear predators are typically too fearful of entering those locations. They don’t account for the fact that the family dog or cat is a nuisance!
The method a mother rabbit uses to care for her babies minimizes her time in the nest, making it less likely that a predator will discover the nest. So, if you come across a nest of newborn rabbits, think twice before doing anything that requires you to touch or disrupt the nest.
How can I tell if the wild baby bunnies need help?
Even with the best human care, extremely young wild baby bunnies with ears back and eyes closed rarely survive in captivity; therefore, it is critical to identify whether they truly require assistance.
Examine the infants to check if they are warm and healthy or chilly, skinny, and dehydrated. Gently pinching the loose skin at the back of the neck is one way to check for dehydration. If it does not jump back in a split second or it remains in a “tent”, the bunny is SEVERELY dehydrated and requires IMMEDIATE rehabilitation by a trained rabbit vet or rehabber.
If the eyes are closed, another test is to touch the vaginal area to encourage elimination.
If the pee appears brown and gritty, the mother rabbit has not been present to assist the bunnies in urinating.
The infant rabbit must be cared for by a professional due to the toxicity of the brown, gritty urine. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with a Wildlife Rehabber or a rabbit vet right at once.
Older young rabbits discovered outside of the nest may not be orphaned and do not require care.
This is frequently the case. Cottontail kittens are born without fur but develop a complete coat within a week. Their eyes open in 10 days, and they are weaned in three to four weeks.
They may explore the world beyond the nest at this age, but they will return there to sleep. The mother does not ignore them and remains with the family group until four or five weeks old.
To identify if a bunny of this age needs assistance, first check to see if the bunny is cold to the touch, then perform the dehydration test.
Also, look for blood, convulsions, fly larvae, and broken limbs; if you see any of these, bring your rabbit to a rabbit vet or an emergency vet right away. Leave it alone if it’s just out and about. It explores its surroundings while waiting for its mother to return home at night while we, humans, are sleeping.
Don’t assume that just because it’s letting you lift it means it needs assistance. They are prey animals that have been trained to freeze when a predator (or human) approaches. Leave it alone!
Is the baby rabbit injured?
A young rabbit who exhibits any of the following symptoms is wounded and requires medical attention:
- It has evident wounds or blood on its body.
- It has had contact with a cat; even if there are no obvious injuries, this is a medical emergency for newborn rabbits.
- It is lying on its side and cannot correct itself (even very young, naked bunnies generally stay upright).
Keep the infant warm, dark, and quiet, and don’t offer it any food or water until you contact a wildlife rehabilitator.
The baby rabbit is not injured
If the rabbit is smaller than your fist?
If indeed, the rabbit is smaller than your fist (or a can of pop) and does not try to get away from you, it is too young to be out of the nest. Examine the area to see if you can locate the nest. The nest will be highly concealed and difficult to locate. If you come across a nest with other healthy infants of the same size, you can tuck the baby you found in with the others. Use the instructions on this page to see if the mother will return. If you are unable to locate the nest, contact a wildlife rehabilitator.
If it is larger than your fist (or a can of pop)?
What does the rabbit do when you approach it? If it runs away, hides, or is difficult to catch, it may be alright. Cottontail rabbits are self-sufficient at 3-4 weeks of age. They may not be fully grown yet, but they are capable of taking care of themselves! Pets should be kept indoors for the time being until the rabbit departs the area on its own. Keep an eye on the young, and if you suspect it is injured or unwell, seek help from a wildlife rehabilitator.
If the rabbit doesn’t hop or try to flee from you, something is amiss. Keep it isolated, dark, and quiet, and seek advice from a wildlife rehabilitator.
What should you do with a wild baby rabbit?
Caring for a wild young rabbit can be a demanding job. To gain a better idea, you need to observe how a wild newborn rabbit behaves.
Wild rabbits usually build their nests on a flat surface, often in the middle of the backyard. Nests are made of grass and hair. Mother rabbits spend most of their time outside their nests and spend very little time nursing their young. As a result, newborn rabbits spend the majority of their time alone in their nests.
If you discover a baby rabbit nest that has been left abandoned for an extended period, contact a wildlife rehabilitator immediately and take the following steps:
Gently place the newborn bunny in a comfortable position.
If you come across a baby rabbit, the best thing you can do is leave it alone. Mother rabbits stay in the nest with their offspring for only a few minutes.
If you find an injured baby rabbit, remove it from a dangerous position as soon as possible and consider making some temporary arrangements for the baby rabbit.
Make a nest for a young rabbit.
It is advisable to build a suitable home for a young rabbit out of a wooden or plastic box with high edges. Fill the box with pesticide-free soil, followed by a layer of dried grass. Make a circular nest in the hay and, if feasible, use fur from the original nest.
Do not use the hairs of other animals, particularly predators. Place the box in such a way that it receives heat from only one side. As a result, if the newborn bunnies become overheated, they will shift to the opposite side of the box.
Place the wild baby rabbit in the nest.
Prepare for the wild newborn rabbit by gently moving it into the nest. As a precaution, you should use gloves to avoid infection from the young rabbit’s wounds. You should try to handle the newborn bunny as little as possible. They perish as a result of being annoyed by unnecessary handling.
For warmth and security, place a soft and warm rag or tissue on a wild young rabbit. Handle the feces of wild rabbit infants with care and sanitation, as wild bunnies can transmit diseases to domestic rabbits.
Install a screen on the bunny box.
If wild young bunnies can walk, they will most likely jump out of the box. As a result, lay a screen on top of the box to keep them in place.
3 days of rest
Allow the wild newborn rabbit to sleep in the box for three days before moving it to another location, such as a tiny hutch. Rest is necessary for a wild young rabbit to adapt to its new surroundings.
Allow the free-roaming newborn rabbit to spend some time outside of the cage.
Allow the newborn rabbits to spend time outside of their enclosure. As they begin walking, they should expect to spend some time on the grass lawn outside.
According to recent studies, direct sunshine is beneficial for the proper development of the wild young rabbit’s bones and teeth. Sunlight activates vitamin D in the skin, allowing animals to absorb calcium from their food.
There are no hard and fast laws on how long rabbits should be left outside, but it is determined by the weather and the health of the newborn bunnies. It is beneficial for rabbits to spend some time outside.
When wild newborn bunnies go outside, constant supervision is required to protect them from predators and keep them out of trouble. To avoid overheating, rabbits must be provided with adequate shade and water during outdoor time.
Wild baby bunnies spend their time outside grazing grass (if the grass is free from chemicals and pesticides). Predators may try to attack baby bunnies as they are wandering or in the cage when placed in open space.
Feed a healthy diet to the wild rabbit.
If a wild newborn rabbit is out and about, it may merely require constant access to fresh green grass and water. You can also make a formula for the young rabbit in a shallow dish. When a baby rabbit begins to consume fresh grass (free of pesticides and herbicides) and begins to move around, it indicates good health.
It is now safe to release the wild newborn rabbit, in the area for this small prey animal. Wild rabbits typically have access to fresh grass, hay, and water, which serve as their primary source of nutrition.
If you adopt a two-week-old rabbit, you must read this page before providing him with water.
What are the best ways to feed a baby wild rabbit?
Feed the rabbits slowly and calmly. Allow them to feed at their rate and be gentle with them. If you feed the baby bunnies too quickly, they will choke and die.
Place the bottle’s nipple in the bunny’s mouth and allow it to feed itself. Proper care is required to feed the newly born rabbit and gently place the nipple of the bottle in its mouth.
Insert the bottle’s teat into the rabbit’s mouth. Bend the newborn rabbit slightly backward and insert the teat between its side teeth. Teat cannot be placed squarely between its front teeth.
Gently move the teat towards the front teeth as the newborn rabbit takes it in between its side teeth. Gently push the bottle so that only a small amount of formula comes out.
A baby rabbit usually takes a few minutes to begin sucking. Continue this process twice a day for four days. As the mother rabbit does, give the second feed in the evening.
Cottontail rabbits, newly born wild baby bunnies, require stimulation to poop and urinate after feeding. This is readily accomplished by gently touching anal and vaginal areas with a small cotton bud or a moist q-tip. This will provide the impression of the mother bunny licking you.
Feed mixture formula to prepare at home
The formula does not contain as many nutrients as mother’s milk. Rehabilitators typically feed the wild young rabbit a mixture of KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) and Multi Milk. These are widely available at rehabilitator supply stores. If possible, probiotics should be added to the combination.
Because mother rabbit’s milk is thicker than other tiny mammals, the combination must be thick. Normally, it comprises three parts solid, and one part clean water (by volume).
Never place the formula container directly on a heat source. Warm it instead by floating the recipe in warm water. Depending on the size of the young rabbit, use syringes with a little nipple attached or an eyedropper to feed it.
While feeding, keep the newborn rabbit sitting and ready with a tissue in hand to clean milk that appears on the nostrils, quickly. Baby rabbits typically require feeding twice a day.
Caution: Never feed a baby rabbit cow milk because it is intended for calves, not bunnies. For infant rabbits, you might use goat milk formula instead.
Don’t overfeed the baby rabbits.
Always keep in mind that overfeeding can result in the death of a wild newborn rabbit. Never ever try to overfeed a bunny. Bloating and diarrhea are the most common causes of death in young rabbits as a result of overfeeding.
The amount of feeding is determined by the age of the wild baby rabbit. Be aware that cottontail bunnies are smaller and require less feed than advised.
The following are the typical feeding amounts:
- From birth to one week: 2 to 2.5 mL feed twice a day.
- Up to 2 weeks old: 5–7 cc feed twice a day, or less if the rabbit is small.
- For rabbits up to 3 weeks old, feed 7 to 13 mL twice a day or less if the rabbit is small.
- For rabbits up to 6 weeks old, feed 13 to 15 mL twice a day or less if the rabbit is small.
You can also provide fresh green grass for wild rabbits between the ages of 2-3 weeks.
When the child reaches the right age, the feeding formula should be discontinued. Cottontail rabbits often quit nursing at the age of 3-4 weeks.
Introduce new foods after 4 days.
You can start leaving other treats in their hutch once they have learned to eat the formula and drink the water on their own.
- Fresh picked grass
- Clover hay
- Dry hay-like grass
- Pieces of apple
- Timothy hay
- Small pieces of bread
Always have fresh water.
Bunnies will require continuous access to clean, fresh water. This assists digestion while also keeping them hydrated and healthy.
Transitioning rabbits outdoors
Wean the rabbits from the formula.
Wean the rabbits off formula and enable them to feed themselves grass and other foliage until they are relatively self-sufficient. Check to see if the bunnies are of the appropriate weaning age (3-5 weeks for cottontails and 9+ weeks for wild Jackrabbits).
Stop playing with the bunnies.
Because the bunnies need to prepare for release into the wild, you should avoid touching them as much as possible. They will become less reliant on you and more self-reliant.
Move the bunnies outdoors full time.
Place them outside your house in a wire cage with a roof.
Ensure the cage’s bottom is wire so they can graze and that all the holes are small enough not to slip through.
• Move the cage about your yard so that the rabbits have access to fresh greenery frequently.
• Continue to provide more vegetation in addition to grass.
Move the bunnies to a bigger hutch as they grow
Upgrade them to a larger hutch outside on the grass and keep feeding them all the extra veggies twice a day. The hutch should have an open or wire floor and be secure to keep predators away from the bunnies.
Release the bunnies into the wild.
When the bunnies reach about eight or nine inches in length in a sitting position, they are mature enough to be released into the wild in a safe location.
If they are not self-sufficient, keep them for a little longer, but do not allow them to mature in captivity.
For assistance, contact your local wildlife conservation office.
If a rabbit large enough to be released cannot feed for itself, consult an expert. They will know what to do in your specific situation.
What attracts rabbits to urban areas?
There are various species of wild rabbits, the majority of which are known as cottontail rabbits, that exist across most of North America. Cottontails prefer to live on the outskirts of open spaces. They are rarely found in deep forests or open grassland.
They adore our suburbs because they adore the edges. Yards, playgrounds, parks, and office parks offer a lot of boundaries between small regions of varied ecosystems that rabbits love, typically with small natural buffers in between.