Seeing rabbits left alone in a park may break your heart.
And you desperately want to help them.
Especially if they’re newborn ones.
But is it okay to bring them home with you?
Read on to learn more:
- 17 ways to take care of wild baby rabbits.
- Why wild bunnies like to stay in your backyard.
- Simple ways to tell if a young bunny is wild or not.
- And so much more…
How to take care of a wild baby rabbit? 17 tips
#1: Inspect the area before mowing
If your property is a regular hideout of wild, furry neighbors…
Then, it’s best to properly inspect your area first.
Especially when you’re mowing and cleaning.
Or planning to use lawn herbicides.
According to vets, herbicides are generally less toxic to animals.
These are used for weed control.
However, direct or excessive exposure to animals can lead to poisoning.
Plus, improper waste disposal and storage are common causes.
Furthermore, lawn clippings also pose a health threat to mother rabbits.
They might munch on dried or fallen leaves that are already contaminated with herbicides.
Wild rabbits may live in your yard rent-free…
But this act of prevention will keep them safe from harm.
#2: Assess their nest
Taking care of wild baby rabbits doesn’t always mean removing them from their nest.
In most cases, it’s best to leave them alone.
But when you spot 1 and worry about their safety…
Then, you may need to assess their nest first.
“How will I know if a wild baby rabbit is safe?”
Rabbit nests look like patches of dried grass.
You can see some rabbit fur, too.
Most of the time, the mother rabbit is nowhere to be found.
Chances are, she might be out grazing for food.
Her baby rabbits are safe if the nest is intact.
So, you don’t have to worry.
Interesting read: 15 Easy Ways To Help Wild Rabbits In Winter
#3: Check the baby rabbits
So, if something tells you that they might need help…
You can carefully check the baby rabbits with the following guide.
Eyes and fur
Baby rabbits are born without fur and both eyes closed.
It takes at least 10 days for them to open it.
And around a week to develop their coat.
Skin and body
Healthy baby rabbits look pinkish and plump.
While the opposite has bluish, wrinkled skin.
This may indicate that they’re starving or abandoned.
Especially when their tummy is caved in.
When you notice baby rabbits making little crying noises…
Chances are, their mother has already abandoned them.
Moreover, baby rabbits that are fed well usually sleep all day.
#4: Look for signs of injuries
Injuries in wild baby rabbits are life-threatening.
Their chance of survival is lower.
Especially if there’s no immediate treatment.
Don’t hesitate to call your animal rescue services.
For your reference, here’s a guide for signs of injuries in wild baby rabbits:
If baby rabbits are dragging their back or hind legs…
Chances are, someone or something must’ve stepped on the nest.
Or attacked them.
Moreover, weak legs may be a symptom of bone defects or diseases.
Baby rabbits normally fall over due to ongoing bone development.
But sometimes, they struggle to stand up due to their head tilting.
Have you wondered why some bunnies tilt their head?
Normally, rabbits tilt their heads when they’re curious or attentive.
This often happens instantly as a response to their surrounding.
But when they can no longer lift their heads…
It could be a symptom of the following:
- Ear infection.
- Physical injury.
- Muscle weakness.
- Bacterial and parasitic infection.
Baby rabbits tend to sleep most of the time.
Especially during the day.
It’s because they’re usually active at dusk and dawn.
However, you might confuse sleeping with lethargy.
Or when they lack energy and aren’t moving at all.
You may notice their head arched backward.
And their mouth partially open.
Scratches or bite marks with blood could be a sign of a predator attack.
It’s best to call a professional rehabilitator and take it from there.
As this may require antibiotic treatments.
#5: Create a tic-tac-toe pattern
When taking care of wild baby rabbits…
It’s important to wait for the mother to return to their nest.
Reason: Wild baby rabbits must not be separated from their mom.
They rely on their mother’s milk as their primary source of nutrition.
Moreover, you shouldn’t nurse wild baby rabbits on your own.
Unfortunately, only less than 10% of wild baby rabbits survive a week of captivity.
“So, why create a tic-tac-toe pattern?”
Tic-tac-toe is a children’s classic game (X and O).
But you won’t be playing it this time.
Instead, you can use the same pattern to test if the mother rabbit returns to her nest.
You can use twigs or stems to create a 3×3 grid above the nest.
Mother rabbits will dig and remove the surface of the nest if she’ll stay in there.
But the opposite is true as she hasn’t returned to her babies yet.
This may be your cue to wear your cape and help out.
#6: Check back after 24 hours
Yes. You may need a lot of patience here.
“Why wait this long?”
While you want to secure the baby rabbits from harm…
This step is vital since mother rabbits only nurse their babies 1-2 times a day.
Especially at daytime or nighttime.
Plus, they can feed their babies as quickly as 5 minutes.
Moreover, it’s important to remember that mothers know best.
Especially for their little ones.
#7: Provide temporary shelter
Important: Do this when the need arises (i.e. dead mother rabbit, unavailability of rescuers).
To keep wild baby rabbits away from predators…
You may provide them with temporary shelter.
Here are 3 simple steps:
- Get a small to medium-sized cardboard box.
- Put a piece of cloth inside for the baby rabbit to lie on.
- You can put their mother’s fur inside, too. But if you can’t find 1 or when in doubt, you may skip this part.
Furthermore, place the nest somewhere warm.
And dim your lighting as well.
This makes them feel like they’re resting underground.
Tip: You can dig a hole in a safe spot in your backyard, too.
#8: Give access to food and water
Now, this part might be tricky.
“What to feed a wild baby rabbit?”
Wild baby rabbits may drink kitten milk replacers (KMR) that are sold in the market.
For your reference, here’s a guide to giving proper nutrition to wild baby rabbits:
|Age||KMR dosage (twice a day)||Food requirement|
|Newborn to 1 week||0.06-0.08 fl oz (2-2.5 ml)||KMR|
|1 – 2 weeks||0.08-0.2 fl oz (5-7 ml)||KMR|
|2 – 3 weeks||0.2-0.4 fl oz (7-13 ml)||KMR + timothy hay + pellets + water|
|3 – 6 weeks||0.4-0.5 fl oz (13-15 ml)||KMR + timothy hay + pellets + water|
Tip: You can use a dropper when feeding wild baby rabbits.
Moreover, position them on their backs and their body upright like feeding a baby.
You may also give some dandelion greens along with hay once their eyes are open.
Important: Don’t feed wild baby rabbits more than twice or exceed 1 fl oz (30 ml) of KMR a day.
#9: Distance them from other pets
Building friendships between your pets and wild bunnies sounds great.
But keeping them close together might only lead to stress and harm.
Especially for the wild baby rabbits.
Although, they like chewing a lot…
They’re not as active as other house pets like dogs.
And they’re genetically more fearful of humans and other animals, too.
So, it’s best to keep your other pets away from them.
Relevant read: 13 Weird Reasons Why Wild Rabbits Sit In One Place
#10: Don’t give them baths
Generally, vets don’t recommend bathing rabbits.
Except for cleaning their bum.
According to RWAF, rabbits don’t like getting wet.
Reason: Rabbits perceive vulnerability to danger when exposed to water.
Wet fur can cause hypothermia or respiratory illness due to cold temperatures.
Moreover, taking them to a bath dries out the natural oils in their coat.
This results in dull, brittle fur.
In worse cases, death due to stress and irregular gut movement.
#11: Avoid carrying them around
Rabbits are built differently than other popular house pets.
That’s because they don’t like being held too much.
Especially the wild ones.
Wild rabbits have stronger flight responses.
Or the ability to respond quickly to their surroundings.
Moreover, wild rabbits see humans and other animals as predators, too.
And they can kick or bite you to defend themselves.
So, hold them only during milk feedings.
#12: Help them poop and urinate
In the wild, mother rabbits lick their young to help them poop and urinate.
Especially if they’re still unable to open their eyes.
Moreover, Brush and Cottontail rabbits are some wild breeds that need this process.
“How can I help wild rabbits poop or pee?”
You may follow these simple steps on how to help wild baby rabbits to poop or pee:
- Damp a cotton ball in warm water.
- Gently stroke the anus until soft poop or urine comes out.
- Wipe away the dirt until they stop releasing from their anus.
- Change your cotton balls from time to time. Be sure to dampen it in warm water.
Watch this video on how to help rabbits poop or pee:
#13: Avoid exposure to loud sounds
Generally, rabbits are sensitive to sound.
This is a survival instinct for them.
Especially rabbits in the wild.
Since they respond quicker to their surrounding…
They can easily get frightened by loud, sudden sounds.
Even from your vacuum cleaner.
So, be sure to place them in a quiet spot at home.
#14: Keep them away from poisonous plants
Generally, rabbits like to graze for food.
You may notice them constantly nibbling on something.
But it’s important to keep them away from eating potential health hazards.
Such as gardens and indoor plants.
Plant poisoning can happen anytime.
So, it’s best to act as early as possible.
Read more here: Warning: 21 Plants That Are Poisonous To Rabbits
#15: Don’t cage them
Wild rabbits aren’t suitable in an environment that restrains them.
Especially from doing outdoor activities like running around.
Or digging, to name a few.
In short, wild rabbits’ playgrounds could be an entire field of crops.
This is why putting them inside a cage or hutch can stress them.
And stress can trigger aggressive behaviors such as:
- Excessive grooming.
- Aggressive chewing or biting.
Relevant read: Ask A Vet: Can Rabbits Die From Stress?
#16: Release them back in the wild
Some goodbyes are necessary.
Especially animals that are meant to be in the wild.
“When should I release my wild baby rabbit?”
You can release them as soon as they start eating hay.
And if they’re at least 5 in (12.7 cm) in length.
Reason: They’ll be able to easily adapt in the wild the earlier you let them go.
#17: Beware of wildlife laws
You may have honest intentions in keeping wild baby rabbits.
But authorities may come after you if you violate animal laws.
However, they may give an exception if you found injured or young wild rabbits.
But it’s best to get a state license to avoid problems.
Note: Wild rabbits must be handed over to your local authorities as soon as possible.
Illegally owning a wild rabbit includes sanctions such as:
- Payment of fines.
- Banned to raise any animal.
So, always verify this matter with your local authorities first.
Why wild rabbits like to stay in your backyard
Wild rabbits like to stay in your backyard to keep away from predators.
And yes. They’ll hide their kits (babies) there, too.
That’s because predators don’t wander in open areas that much.
Especially since it could mean a danger zone for them as well.
Moreover, predators can smell the mother rabbit’s scent.
Which puts the kits in danger.
This is why mother rabbits leave their nest and return only twice a day.
As a maternal instinct, they don’t give clues to their predators.
Simple ways to tell if a young rabbit is wild or not
Wild and indoor rabbits look identical.
Especially if they’re newborns.
In the wild, young rabbits can stay in their mother’s nest for up to 4 weeks.
By this time, you can see them with a full coat and eyes completely open.
Only that they’re still very small in size.
“How can you tell the difference, then?”
Here’s a list to help you determine which is which:
Eyes and ears
Wild rabbits usually have narrow, almond-shaped eyes.
Their ears are upright and more erect.
Meanwhile, indoor rabbits’ eyes appear to be rounder.
And usually have floppy ears.
Wild rabbits tend to have long slender face shapes than indoor ones.
They have lean legs, too.
While domesticated rabbits appear to be chubby and plumper in both areas.
Domestic rabbits can have various colors depending on their breed such as:
While wild ones usually have a mix of black and brown fur.
Which is called agouti color.