Saturday, March 15, 2014


Rabbits "hide their nests in plain view" often putting them in the open, for example in the middle of the lawn, as well as in brush piles and long grass. If you find a nest that has been disturbed, do all you can to restore and protect it rather than bring the babies inside. If a dog has discovered the nest, you can put a wheelbarrow over it so that the mother can get to it but the dog cannot. You can also protect the nest with a wicker laundry basket with a hole cut in it for the mother to enter.

Nests can be moved to a safer place up to 3 feet away from the original site and can be reconstructed if necessary. This should be a last resort. To make a new nest, dig a shallow hole about 3" deep and put into it as much of the original material as you can recover, including the mother’s fur. Add dried grass as needed, and put the young back. Mother rabbits return to the nest to nurse only one or two times a day, staying away as much as possible so as not to attract predators. To determine if the mother is returning, create a tic-tac-toe pattern over the nest with twigs. Wait 24 hours to see if the twigs have been moved. If they have, then the mother is coming back.

Very young babies with eyes closed and ears back rarely survive in captivity, so it is very important to determine whether or not the babies really need your help. See if the babies seem warm and healthy or cold, thin and dehydrated. To test for dehydration, gently pinch the loose skin at the back of the neck. If it stays in a "tent," then the baby is dehydrated and needs rehabilitation. Another test is to stroke the genital area to stimulate elimination. If the pee is brown and gritty, the mother rabbit has not been there to help the babies urinate. The brown, gritty urine is toxic and the babies must be cared for.

Older babies who are found outside of the nest may not be orphaned or in need of assistance. Babies are born without fur but develop a full coat in a week. Their eyes open in 6-10 days and in three weeks they are weaned. At a young age they leave the nest to explore but return there to sleep. If the bunny fill your hand he is old enough to explore without mom. Also look for bleeding, convulsing, fly larvae, broken bones.

Friday, March 14, 2014