The Eastern Cottontail Rabbit can be found in almost every type of habitat, and breed in our area from early spring until September. The average size of the litter is 4-5 young. The nests are commonly found in areas where human companion animals also frequent. Therefore, the nests are often discovered or uncovered while doing gardening. Because young cottontails don't do well when raised by humans, it is vital that all possible steps are taken to let the young remain with their mother. The young are on their own in three weeks time, so please be patient.
Injured rabbits freeze and it is usually fairly easy to contain. If you are not comfortable containing the animal, call us for advice.
If unconscious or badly injured, cover it with a towel, scoop up gently into a container. If the animal is somewhat conscious, steer it into a corner situation, place a box or laundry basket over the top of it, slide thin board under it and flip. Secure the top, making sure there is adequate ventilation.
Don't assume the mother is dead. Mother rabbit does not stay with the nest. She usually visits the nest at dawn and at dusk only. If there is a dead adult rabbit in the road, check to see if it's lactating. Ask the following questions:
1. Are the babies cold? If the babies are small and very lethargic, feel the babies bodies. They should feel warmer than your hand. If the babies are cold, warm them up with a heating pad or hot water bottle.
2. Are the babies dehydrated? Wearing gloves, gently pinch up the skin on their back. The skin should return to the normal position in 1-2 seconds.
If the answer to any of the above is yes, or if the babies are injured or you cannot find the nest, contact us for further instructions. If the answers to the above questions are no, try to reunite the babies as follows:
It is untrue that a mother rabbit will reject her young if touched by humans. However, make sure you are not wearing cologne or have lotion on your hands. Place babies back in the nest. Place any nesting materials back on top of them. If the nest has been damaged, it can be repaired. Look for a shallow depression lined with grass/fur. If the nest was disturbed by a dog, try putting the dog on a leash and let the dog lead you to the nest. After reuniting, stay completely out of sight, or mother won't return. Mothers return only at dawn and at dusk.
If you find healthy bunnies that are 4-5 inches long, able to hop, with eyes open and ears up, they do not need help. They are able to survive on their own. Leave them alone.