How to Care for a Wild Rabbit Nest





Introduction: How to Care for a Wild Rabbit Nest

This guide will walk you through the care of a wild rabbit's nest and it's inhabitants. This advise is based on personal experience and a small amount of research.

Step 1: You've Found a Nest!

Rabbits' nests are generally well hidden and can turn up anywhere. The most common places are near bushes, trees, and tall grass. A rabbit's nest can be identified by its common construction of grass and fur. Tall grass is tightly woven into clumps of the mother's fur, providing insulation and camouflage. This covers the burrow underneath.

If you come across a nest under no special circumstances, the best thing to do is leave it be. Don't lift the cover to see the cute bunnies inside. Yes, baby rabbits are incredibly cute and fun to watch, but don't let that be a risk to their survival. If nothing looks out of the ordinary, do not disturb the nest.

Step 2: Your Dog Found a Nest!

This is the most common occurrence in my experience. There are several identifying factors indicating your dog has discovered a nest:

  • (S)he is very excited, running to the same spot over and over again.
  • Abnormally heavy panting.
  • Loud screeching noises, often confused for a squeaker toy. (Baby rabbits sure have a major set of lungs, I once heard this cry for help when I was inside at the computer.)
  • Your dog has something in it's mouth that seems odd, and is acting strangely about it.
  • You see an adult rabbit (the mother) frantically dashing about.

I will walk you through several scenarios.

Your dog has something in it's mouth.
Immediately order your dog to drop it. Put force into your voice to tell the dog you mean business. If your dog is well trained, (S)he will comply. If not, grab hold of your dog's nose and lower jaw. Gently force the mouth open and retrieve the rabbit. If someone else is present, have them take the dog inside. Walk over to the rabbit and check for any obvious signs of injury. This includes blood, broken bones, and intense squirming. If the rabbit is injured, immediately call the local vet or humane society. Unless you are a professional, any attempts to care for the wounded rabbit are futile.
The rabbit is uninjured.
I know what you're thinking. This cute, helpless baby rabbit is spooked, confused, and "homeless". I know, I'll raise it myself! Whatever you do, DO NOT TAKE THEM INSIDE! Any care you think you're giving could, and probably will, kill the rabbit. In fact, it is illegal to take in a young wild rabbit in most states. This will also cause the mother and captive baby to become frantic. This often results in the baby injuring itself.
. Gently pick up the young rabbit. If you can, wrap it in a small towel. Don't be startled if the rabbit begins to rub and push it's head against your fingers. It won't bite, it is simply trying to burrow into a less traumatic environment. The rabbit will probably be wet in places from your dog's saliva. Don't worry about this too much. The nest cannot be too far, you should find it within a few minutes. Gently place the rabbit back into it's burrow and replace the cover.
The nest is destroyed.
If your dog found the nest, it is likely in disarray. Do your best to reconstruct the nest, it is vital to the rabbit's survival. If it is absolutely necessary, you can move the nest up to ten feet away. To do this, dig a shallow hole about as deep and wide as the original burrow. Gently pick up the rabbits and transfer them to the new nest. If possible, surround the nest with a bunny accessible fence to keep your dog away. Be sure to leave a gap large enough for the mother. Fences aren't foolproof, you will still need to keep an eye on your dog. Mine managed to trap itself inside the fence. Be extra cautious when the rabbits enter their exploring stage.

Do not worry, the mother will not abandon her young if you or your dog's scent is on it.

Step 3: The Mother Is Nowhere in Sight

Don't worry this is completely normal, mother rabbits are known to be absentee parents. During the day, the mother leaves the nest to feed and disclose the location to predators. At night or in the early morning, the mother will visit the nest for up to five minutes. The mother's milk is very nutritious and among the richest of all mammals. This provides enough energy to last the young all day. When she is finished nursing, the mother will leave the nest again.
. There are several ways to check if the mother is returning to the nest. The first is to make a crisscross or tick-tac-toe pattern on the nest with grass. If this is disturbed in the morning, the mother has visited the nest. This doesn't always work though, the rabbits can enter and exit the nest without disturbing it much. It's best if you place it near the area you think is the entrance.
. You can also place unscented baking soda near the nest and check for disturbances the next day. Also, once a day carefully remove the cover of the burrow. Look inside and check the condition of the rabbits. If they seem skinny, dehydrated, cold (no body heat), or are whining often, the mother is not returning. A sign of dehydration is a lack of "springiness" in the skin. If you gently pull on the skin around the back of the neck and it does not spring back, the rabbit is dehydrated. You should call your local vet or Humane Society if any of these signs apply. If the rabbits seem healthy, replace the cover and leave them be.

Step 4: Lost Rabbit.

On one occasion I came across a lost rabbit. This was back when the rabbits were inhabiting the fern. If you notice a young rabbit at least ten feet from the nest, take note of it's location. If it hasn't moved in an hour or more, it is probably lost and confused. Gently pick it up and place it near the nest, not directly in it. Not too far though, place it directly on the edge or within an inch of the burrow. Make sure the nest is uncovered when you do so. If the rabbit runs into the burrow and snuggles in with it's buddies, you've found the right nest. If not, it's best to place the rabbit back where you found it.

Step 5: Truly Orphaned Rabbits

As I've had no experience in this field, I'll direct you to my resource.

Again, make sure you KNOW for sure the mom was killed and the bunnies are abandoned (not warm, etc).You will not see the mom.Remember, the mom will only come back in the middle of the night to feed her babies.If the mom was killed, the best thing you can do for a wild orphaned baby bunny is to get in touch with a skilled rehabilitator.In the meantime, call your local humane society or animal control and one of these vets for a wildlife referral:



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    My dog found a bunny nest and killed the 3 babies in it today. I'm heartbroken. I didn't know what to do with the bodies, so I buried them (pretty close to where the nest is). I went out later tonight and saw the mama. Then I started to think that maybe burying them wasn't the best idea.... Will the mama know what happened to them? Is she going to keep looking for them? Should I have left them out somehow so she'd know what happened to them? The more I think about it the more I'm losing my mind over it. I just feel so bad.

    "Rabbit mothers nurse their babies for approximately 5 minutes a day. Both wild and domestic mothers will be in the nest or nest box early in the morning and then again in the evening. The milk is very rich and the babies “fill up” to capacity within minutes." - they do not cuddle or stay near the kits at all except for the nursing. This is to protect them from predators. The kits keep warm by cuddling together. A rare single baby would have an unlikely chance of survival in cooler conditions (my experience with indoor rabbits)

    If someone may give me some advice. We had a bad rainstorm last night. We had a nest of baby bunnies I am guessing about 3weeks old. I had put a shelter over them, so the hole would not fill up with water. The mamma came and checked on her babies about an hour or so later in the shelter. ( Have a camera to watch them) After about 5min mamma left and all three babies came out of the nest. I thought they were going to play a little and go back in. This morning 2 of the babies are gone and one is left behind but he is hanging outside the nest and will not go back in. Does anyone know will the mamma come back for him or is he abandoned?? Please any information would be helpful.

    We have found a bunny nest who's mother has not yet had her babies. Where the nest is located, we have landscapers coming in next week to redo the stoop as well as the garden. How can we help relocate the Mama bunny before they need to tear out the nest and before she has the litter?

    We have uncovered a fairly large rabbits nest. My dog has unfortunately dug in the hole and uncovered them and I believe killed 2 of them. One for sure, the other is not looking too good. There are maybe 5 or 6 more ,moving around in the uncovered hole. I do not believe their eyes are open. I am worried first off because of the dead one laying close to the hole, secondly because there are all kinds of bugs crawling on these bunnies. I am not sure if the momma will come back or not. I am worried about touching anything around the nest and causing mom not to come back for sure. I did try to cover them back up but due to the digging it is now mostly dirt instead of being a soft cover for them. Please advise on what to do, I really do not want them to die.

    It's a myth that rabbits will abandon their young if a human has touched them. Try to reconstruct the nest as much as possible by covering it with leaves and natural materials. Basically make sure the babies are covered so that they are protected from predators as much as possible. Mother rabbits don't hang around their nests so as to not attract attention to them, but they return to feed them usually once a day around dawn. Hope this helps!

    Ok so my dog has found a baby bunny nest that we had previously known about and were protecting from her. But somehow she had gotten out and started digging up the bunnies. All but one were fine. One has received a small cut on there neck but only fur deep. There is really not a lot of blood because it is only the pelt part that has been torn. What should I do? Should I put it back with the others or should I call like a vet or what? PLEASE LET ME KNOW SOON, ITS URGENT.

    A baby has taken to us. It is over 2 weeks old, comes out when it hears us and sleeps on my feet. I don't know what to do. The mom comes still. Should we just stay in for a few days?

    So while cleaning up our garden we found a nest of bunnies, unfortunately most of the cover was removed before we noticed them. We left the nest as undisturbed as possible and tried to recover the nest with foliage. The bunnies eyes were not yet open. What are the chances that mama will still care for them? I am afraid that now that most of their cover is gone, the rain will drown them.

    if it is raining, you can put something such as a cardboard box with a cut out big enough for the mama rabbit to get in over the nest. or a wicker basket with an opening cut in it, or any other type of covering that still allows access for the mama. covering it with foliage was good. Just check the nest occationally to be sure it has not been abandoned.