Baby Rabbit Nests: a successful rescue

About a month ago I was raking grass in my yard right after it was cut, when I came across what appeared to be a nest of baby bunnies.

Upon taking a closer look, sure enough, I seen two bunnies that looked only days old. The mother had dug a nest in the ground under a pile of brush. I removed the brush so that the lawn could be cut there, not realizing there was a nest.

The lawnmower left the nest almost completely destroyed. The sun was beating down on these babies, the mother was nowhere in sight, I panicked. I remembered Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge out near Nanticoke because I took several injured snapping turtles there last summer. I got them on the phone and I explained the situation. Sent them pictures of the babies. They offered to take them in right away.

I thought I’d wait it out a day to see if the mother came back. I did some quick research and learned that I shouldn’t try and intervene too much. I rebuilt the nest as best I could in the exact same spot. This step is extremely important. The nest should be in the exact spot or as close to the old nest as possible. And that’s all I had to do. I didn’t try feeding the babies because that would reduce their chance of survival and whatever formula you try and feed them can make them severely ill.

On top of all this, the forecast was calling for severe thunderstorms that night. I put a tarp over top of the nest I re-built with brush, sticks and dried grass. I left them in the same hole the mother had built for them. I was careful not to smother the babies or make it so fool proof that even the mother wouldn’t be able to get to her babies. I left an opening where she could get in.

Mother rabbits only come to the nest once or twice during the night. She won’t dare go in the day because she may attract prey. To best protect her babies and give them the best possible chance of survival, she’ll feed her babies at night. What she does is gently lay over top of the nest to feed. Then she will place grass and her own fur over top of the nest, being extra careful not to pack it down too hard. Her babies need to breathe.

Check on the babies in the morning for the first few days. I used a sock to pick them up so that I wouldn’t be leaving my scent on them. Mother rabbits will still care for their babies even with a human scent but it’s always best not to handle them. For the first few days, I went out and checked on them in the morning. If their bellies are sunken in, that means they haven’t been fed. If their little bellies are full, you know the mother has been going to feed them.

I checked on the babies for the first few days and found that mother rabbit was feeding them regularly. I continued to check on them periodically over the next two weeks. One morning I went out to check on them and they were gone. About a week later, one evening, I seen both bunnies, a bit bigger running around in my yard, chasing each other. I thought, they’re old enough to be with their mom now.

If you ever have questions or concerns about wild baby animals and they do not appear to be starving, sick or in immediate danger, call Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge and ask for advice. You can find them on Facebook.

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