Rehabilitating Wild Cottontail Bunnies – Day 1

Easter Sunday April 11, 2004: Our dogs found a nest of cottontail bunnies this morning. Luckily Kevin was mixing straw and mud bricks close to the area and rescued the three. He got my attention and I went out to see what he had found. I knew immediately they were baby rabbits, and picked them up one by one. Shortly after I remembered that I had always heard that if you touch a wild baby animal the mother will reject it. Oh dear. I went inside and did some research on the ‘net and found that contrary to that popular belief, the parents will not reject their young because a human has touched them. It’s more the constant activity (of humans, peeking in on the babies, hanging around the area) around the nest that would scare the mother away. The information said to return the babies to the nest, and place two strings across the top, and then check back later to see if the strings were disturbed. Different information was given for when the mother visits. One source said once during the night. Another source said once at daybreak and once at dusk.

We put the bunnies back in their nest, and put strings across the top. Only they weren’t content to stay in their nest. They were crawling around the nest area — which we had enclosed with a huge rolling cage. The cage is made of chain link fence and the mother cottontail can easily fit through the chain link. We waited until it was very dark out, and went out to check on the bunnies. One bunny was in one spot along the fence, and the other two had wandered to another spot. The two strings weren’t much help as the bunnies had been wandering around the nest moving them. We didn’t touch them, deciding to give the mother another chance in the morning. At this point I didn’t realize that the mom just hops in, stands over the nest to nurse them and they have to find her. I thought she would round them up and care for them, so we didn’t move them together.

There are 22 days of reports on the bunnies. You are on Day 1, click here to read Day 2

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