Rabbits are absolutely adorable creatures, be they in the wild or as your pets.
However, you should know that wild rabbits lead very different lives as compared to your pet bunnies.
It is important to treat them in different ways to ensure you don’t hurt the wild rabbits.
If you’ve come across baby bunnies in the wild, your first instinct will be to consider them abandoned.
You might be tempted to take them in and provide them shelter.
But this can be a really bad idea! Here’s the best way to take action when you spot baby rabbits in the wild.
What Should You Do With a Wild Baby Rabbit?
When you find a baby rabbit in the wild, the best thing you can do is research the right steps to follow.
Ignore your instincts to pick them up and bring them indoors. It is highly likely that they won’t survive the handling and moving.
Instead, you should be delicate with the situation, learn everything you can about the right ways to look out for these bunnies, and then act accordingly.
Find Out If It Is Orphaned
The Humane Society of the United States reveals that most baby rabbits found on their own aren’t orphans.
This is an essential piece of information to keep in mind when you’re trying to figure out whether the baby bunnies need help!
Until and unless you’ve found the mother rabbit injured, or worse, dead, you should assume that she’s taking care of her babies.
Since the best chances of the baby bunnies’ survival is with their mother, you should leave them alone. However, for your peace of mind, you can set up a grid-like pattern with some yarn by the nest’s entrance.
If you find the pattern disturbed the next morning, you’ll know for sure that the mother rabbit visited the nest and fed her babies.
Does It Need to Be Rescued?
While it is best not to handle the baby bunnies, there are some instances where they might need some help from you.
Once you’ve ensured the baby rabbits aren’t orphaned, you should keep a close watch and check if they are injured.
Baby rabbits are delicate creatures and can get hurt or sick by predators and even harsh weather conditions.
If you notice any of the baby rabbits looking pale or blue or appearing to be sluggish, they are probably unwell. Another sign that the babies need help is them constantly crying.
You should reach out to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or a small animals’ vet to offer these babies professional medical attention.
These licensed individuals are highly trained in caring for baby rabbits and will offer you expert guidance on the right steps to take.
Determine its Age
Baby rabbits usually leave the nest at just three weeks old. At this time, they are about a chipmunk’s size.
So, if you find a small but fully-furred baby rabbit with its eyes wide open, know that they are perfectly fine on their own.
You might be tempted to take care of the baby rabbit considering its small size, but nature has different plans, and it’s best to let it run its course.
These rabbits are old enough to be on their own and don’t need human help to survive.
Important Things to Keep in Mind
Rabbit nests are usually built in plain sight rather than being tucked away in hidden corners. That is why people come across baby bunnies quite often.
You should remember that just because you can see the babies, it doesn’t mean that their mother is no longer looking after them.
Mother rabbits usually just visit the nest twice a day, for a few minutes. This time is spent feeding her babies at the start and end of each day before she hops off to look for her own food.
Baby bunnies spend most of their lives by themselves, cuddled together in the nest. They are perfectly safe and healthy there, so you don’t need to intervene at all.
However, you might notice that the nest is damaged or located in an area where predators or lawnmowers can get to it.
Under such circumstances, it is best to repair the nest with as little disturbance to the baby rabbits as possible.
You can also move the nest to a different location but stay nearby so the mother rabbit can find her babies easily.
What to Do With Abandoned Baby Rabbits?
We’ve covered the best way to act if you come across wild baby bunnies that are being taken care of by their mother. Now, let’s look at the other side of the story.
What if you waited, did the yard grid test, and the mother rabbit never showed up. The baby bunnies are probably scared and hungry, and they need your help to survive!
Abandoned baby rabbits are already under a lot of stress. Therefore, they need to be handled with extreme care and caution.
Here are the right steps to follow in case you come across abandoned baby rabbits in the wild.
Observe the Situation Closely
Before you touch the babies or make any form of contact, it is best to spend some time just observing them. If the baby bunnies are crying most of the day, they are probably hungry or hurt.
In both cases, since there is no mother rabbit to take care of them, they need you to act quickly and properly to offer them a chance to survive.
Well-fed bunnies mostly sleep all day long. So, if these babies are up all day, that’s another sign that they are abandoned and need your help.
You should also check the coloring of these babies. If they are pink and plump, it’s a sign that the mother is around and feeding them. Otherwise, the baby bunnies will look pale, thin-skinned, and sick.
Prepare a Warm Nest
Once you’re sure that the bunnies need your help to survive, the next step is to make a safe, cozy nest for them.
A cardboard box can make the perfect nest for baby bunnies. It would be best if you lined it with a soft towel or a cotton shirt to keep it warm. If it’s winter, you should replace the towel with a blanket to ensure the babies don’t get sick.
Another factor to consider for the nest is temperature.
A constant temperature of around 65*F is optimal for the health of baby rabbits. You can ensure this temperature is maintained by keeping them in a warm place with a cool breeze.
However, if you live in a cooler area, you might need to set up a heating pad under the cardboard box. Please this box in a dark, covered area to mimic the natural rabbit nest.
Wear Cotton Gloves and Relocate Them Carefully
Now that your rabbit nest is ready, you should prepare to handle the baby bunnies. Instead of just grabbing them with bare hands and causing panic, there is a better way to do it.
Wear a pair of warm, cotton gloves to offer the babies comfort as you pick them. Don’t just grab them from the top. Instead, put your hand next to them and scoop them up as gently and slow as possible.
Cup them in your hands carefully, and place them in the new nest one by one. If your cardboard box doesn’t have a cover, you can place a second towel over the top. Remember to leave a small opening for air circulation.
Careful Feeding is Important
Since the rabbits are completely in your care now, they will be dependent on you to feed them.
Baby bunnies can’t eat normal rabbit food. Therefore, you’ll need to make a trip to the local pet store and grab some kitten formula.
Kitten formula, also called KMR or Kitten Milk Replacer, is the most commonly available food safe for baby bunnies. It will offer them enough nutrition to grow and survive.
Prepare the formula as per the directions on the box. Then, fill an eye dropper with the appropriate amount of KMR as mentioned below:
- 5 CC for a newborn baby rabbit
- 7 – 13 CC for a 2-weeks old baby rabbit
- 15 CC for an open-eyed, erect ears baby rabbit
The amount of KMR should be maintained to 15 CC twice a day until the baby rabbit is weaned off to solid food.
Feed-in the Right Position
You should gather the baby rabbit gently and feed it on its back. The position should be similar to that of the human baby when feeding.
Place the dropper on the baby rabbit’s mouth and encourage him to suck on it at its own pace. Please don’t rush the process or fill its mouth with too much KMR, as it can cause it to choke.
Feed each of the baby rabbits individually twice a day, at dusk and dawn. Once they have eaten, let them stay in the box and try not to handle them too much.
Check on them every few hours to ensure they are calmly sleeping.
Help them Eliminate
Baby bunnies have natural instincts that will help them eliminate after each feeding.
But, if you notice that one of the rabbits is not urinating or passing stool regularly, it needs some extra help.
Put on your gloves and slowly run a finger up and down over his belly.
Do this twice or thrice, and then move your finger to its anal area. This gentle stimulation will help it eliminate.
Extra Tips to Keep the Wild Baby Bunnies Happy
Since you have taken charge of caring for these wild baby bunnies, you’d want to do anything possible to keep them happy.
The best way to do this is by adding some Timothy grass to their newly-built nest. Only do this once their eyes are fully open and they appear more alert and active.
The baby bunnies will start to munch on the grass and get a taste of solid food.
When you notice that the bunnies are fully eating the grass, offer them some hay. Over the next few days, they will wean off the KMR completely and move to hay and grass.
They are now ready to be released back into the wild. Good job!
In the End
If you’ve come across a baby rabbit in the wild, your first reaction would probably be to ‘rescue’ the cute little thing.
Although you’re only trying to look out for the bunny, it’s important to remember that trying to rescue them can do more harm than good. It can even lead to their sudden death!
To ensure the little rabbit’s best chances of survival, you should keep an eye out for them from a distance.
Look for the mother early in the mornings or late at night. These are the times when she’ll come to feed her offspring.
You won’t need to interfere if the mother is around as she’ll take good care of her babies.
However, if you notice the mother hasn’t appeared for a few days, she could be injured or dead.
In such cases, you can attempt to rescue the baby bunnies using the tips mentioned above.
All the best, and thank you for being so kind to wild creatures!
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