What Should You Do If You Find a Baby Rabbit?
With spring in full bloom, we have lots of little creatures running around. We recently had this little bun-bun in the office for treatment. What should you do if you come across a baby rabbit? There are many myths out there, so let’s clear a few of these up. Our pointers will help you help them (so they can grow up into bigger bunnies and eat your hosta to the ground).
First, with any injured wildlife, avoid handling the animal if you can. Note the location and what seems to be wrong then call the Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project at 319-277-6511 for more directions. They may send someone to get the animal or tell you how to proceed. They help families in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and beyond.
If you need to get the animal to safety immediately, handle as little as possible and put it in a dry container (with ventilation). Do not feed or water the animal.
Call Black Hawk Wildlife Rehab. A licensed rehabber will talk with you and determine what to do next. There is no fee for using this all volunteer service, however, donations are greatly appreciated (but not required).
The Real Reason Mom Is Away
With rabbits, a common myth is that if you touch a baby rabbit the mother will no longer care for it. 9 times out of 10, the mother will return to care for the babies after they have been handled.
Another misconception is if you don’t see the mother on the nest, she has abandoned it. There are a few reasons why we don’t see mother rabbits on the nest very often.
First, she only feeds her babies once per day. Second, baby bunnies don’t have much of a scent to predators. However, the mother rabbit does have a scent. She has to be cautious when she returns to the nest to avoid attracting unwanted attention from predators. If she were to sit with the bunnies, her scent would make all of them a much greater target.
X Marks the Spot
If you happen to disturb a rabbit nest, go ahead and put the babies back (assuming they are uninjured). After placing them back in the nest, find two small twigs or sticks and cross those over the opening to the nest like the letter “X”. This will be your clue as to whether or not the mother has come back to feed the babies. The sticks will be pushed out of the way when she returns.
Be sure not to use too big of a stick where she has trouble getting back in. The mother should return within 24-48 hours and you will know because the twigs have been moved. If after that time the sticks are still not disturbed, do call Black Hawk Wildlife and let them know. There may be options for helping those little ones out if the mother is not able to care for them.
While we may not like rabbits eating away in our backyards, all God’s creatures are still deserving of a safe and cruelty free life.