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Picture of How to Care for a Wild Rabbit Nest
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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.
 
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Step 1: You've Found a Nest!

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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!

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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

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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.

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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

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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: http://www.rabbit.org/vets/vets.html

http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/orphan.html#The%20Bunny%20is%20Wild%20and%20Really%20Orphaned%20-%20How%20do%20I%20care%20for%20it?

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pendulum305 years ago
My cat brought a baby rabbit home and I had no clue what to do to help it. It was late night, and I put it in the box with grass and water, planning to call "wild life preservation" next day. For this poor rabbit it was too late. They're so fragile when out of nest! Your instructable will help many other baby rabbits to be returned safely to their nest, to live and be well!

Bunnies will die from something in cats Saliva !!!!

carebear7712 months ago
chrismeadows3 months ago

Thanks for posting the great info. We have spotted a rather pregnant mom rabbit the last few weeks in our back yard. today while outside in the yard my wife was cleaning up the gardens and accidently found a nest. she cleared the top of the nest off exposing 3 or 4 little bunnies. eyes are just barely opening and are all curled up in a ball.. as I observed the 4some I realized 3 were breathing fine and one was not. Upon closer inspection without getting to intrusive I found that the one little rabbit closest to the outside of the nest was not alive, and appeared to have died 2 or 3 days ago (didn't smell to nice). Being in southern Ontario the nights are still pretty damp and cold so maybe it got to him. I removed it from the nest as it was rotting pretty good and didn't want it to bring sickness to the rest. we did see momma rabbit yesterday in the yard, going to keep an eye out today and this evening to see if she returns and what she does with them.

I found a rabbit nest while preparing flower bed a few days ago. The nest is practically in the open, no grass around at all and is dangerously close to street. It is really the worst place to raise babies! Everytime I see someone walking a dog, I was nervous. I check the nest everyday. So far the babies are doing fine, they grow fast and eyes are open now. I don't know how to keep them safe when they are old enough to leave the nest.

I was weed eating and hit rabbit nest. I covered it back up will they be ok I didn't hit any of them ?

hotheavens4 months ago
I was wondering if you could tell me what type of bunny this is
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N'SeyaB4 months ago

today at school i rescued a bunny like the one in the image but smaller and it was bleeding on its nose very much so i took it to my agriculture teacher and we wiped the nose with a damp cloth and put her her the hutch with our lionhead bunny and our lionhead nola took care of it as her own then after school we took it to the vet and it survived. this was a great exprience for me because i want to be either a rehabalitor or veternarian.

I found 2 baby bunnies in the grass on my lawn.No sign of a nest in the vicinity.They appear OK and are grooming each other and are cuddled together.Is there anything I should do..they are unprotected out in the open.

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livi6114 years ago
my dad ran over a baby bunny with a mower when I was little. it was OK though. we put it on the side of the house in a shoe box with meds on the very tip of its ear (which he managed to clip off with the mower). Also lettuce and some old strawberries. we checked on them on the middle of the night and there were 5 extra babies and the mama in the box! it was a great experience for me.
Myrka livi6111 year ago

nice glad they survived

ironically, my Dad managed to find a bunny nest BEFORE he started mowing the lawn. i'm 50% sure they were orphaned too, because a week prior, I found a dead adult bunny under a bush. that could've been the dad tho.
Myrka1 year ago

I have trouble me and my friend found a baby bunny alone in the grass at school then the janitor came to mow the field where we found it so we carefully graved it and hid it from the janitor but then the teacher caught us with the bunny and gave it to the janitor

parisusa1 year ago
Great advice! Mother animals know best but on rare occasions human help can be beneficial. Encourage children to leave wild animals alone and only "look"! There are thousands of domestic pets - bunnies included -that desperately need adoption! If you have space, time and can commit more than 10 years consider adopting a bonded pair.
ebishop22 years ago
Thank you for the information. Last night while cleaning the leaf litter out from under our tree in the front yard, I found the nest, undisturbed until I nearly stepped on it. Inside the "pocket are three babies, which last night we took for chipmunks as it was near dusk. I took some old coconut basket liner and placed it over the nest after attempting to "recreate the scene". This morning when I checked on them I found out I had bunnies. They had moved out of the cocoon and into the coconut liner. It did not appear as if a mother rabbit had been there as the liner itself appeared undisturbed. I placed the bunnies back in their pocket and will keep an eye on them today. I will follow your instructions on placing something so I can see if the mother rabbit is coming to feed them, and may make the nest more protected, as I had cleaned out the area extensively and mowed before I found them. Luckily, I have access here to one of the best anilmal rehabilitators. She has told me to bring them to her if they appear abandoned. Her website is http://www.picturetrail.com/backwoodslynne if anyone else needs advice or just wants to see her marvelous abilities.
don't pick the rabbit up with your hands or the mother could reject it.
Actually, there are very few species that will abandon their young just because it's been touched by or smells like a human. That's mostly a myth. The parental instinct is very strong in most species, sometimes so strong that they will adopt young that are not their own (or not even their own species!).
Ah yeah I heard not too long ago that it was a myth elsewhere. By the way I said that five years ago I was a stupid 13 year old then xD
Ha, I hadn't looked at the date on your post. five years too late I guess.
Unlike most animals, that is not true for rabbits. Read the last line in step two.
oh ok my mom insisted that we not touch it the first day we saw them. so I guess that was worthless :P
It's rabbit from http://youzay.com - nice little. I now!
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dlphinlvr134 years ago
This helped so much today. Today, my dog,Ruby, 2 year old golden retriever found a rabbits nest in our yard. unfortunately, I did not recognize that squeaky sound as bunnies but when my husband heard he knew it was some kind of animal. There were 6 bunnies all of which were out of the nest. Thanks to Ruby. two were in a garden where she was sitting stairing at them. two by our swing set and two more by our shed. They are very little, eyes not open yet. Ruby, accidentally, killed one, another one was completely drenched and another is questionable . But we returned five including the one who did not seem great back to the nest and tried to re-create the best we can. We are banning our dog from the backyard for now :( but she has the front yard. I am going to check on them tomorrow morning. I hope she comes back. I am going to do what they suggested so I can see if the nest has been disturbed.

I'll keep you posted. I am so grateful that there are helpful sites like this.

Scumm74 years ago
When I beagle found a nest in our yard, I used a paver to cover most of the nest and a couple well placed cinder blocks to allow the mother access. She moved the babies that night.
if you got a baby that is now an orfan [i dont] could you make an indoor home just like its old one like a modle
Gtazz5 years ago
anything about a baby rabbit with broken legs
Batness Gtazz4 years ago
Call a local wildlife rescue; they have experience raising animals like that and can help.
nikeman765 years ago
hmm... i see a lot of rabbits in my backyard but no matter how had i try, I CANNOT FIND THEIR NEST!
zoestarr5 years ago
i have a success story. my dog caught a baby rabbit the size ov the 1 in the photo while walking her one day. i thaught it was cute and took it home. with full care and attention including bottle feeding with warm milk from your vet (sometimes need to forse feed like i had to, but be very gentle), a large  shoe box full with hay and a warm woolen beanie, baby farricks for food also. 7 months on i still hav my little rabbit. now she is not so little. eats rabbit pellet, grass, hay, apple,banana, and has the most awsome personality for a rabbit. she knows to come when called, that look means her favourite food, when i ask her if she wants to come she knows shes going in the car. she loves to come in the car. she has also been able to toilet train her self amazingly and lives inside as the house bunny.
usb.to.go5 years ago
 This is a great instructable I read this and then a couple days later (today) I saw two cats chasing a bunny and followed this instructable and it bounded happily away after recovering a bit from the shock. 
Thanks 
Spint6 years ago
I don't agree with the whole they will die if you take care of them, we were landscaping on our property and unfortunatley the tractor killed the mother in the underground burrow, so I took the little baby bunnies inside gave them a rodent milk mix thing we had on hand out of a syringe just dripping it into their mouths and the majority lived to adulthood meaning one died :(. But then again I have more experience with animals then most living on a ranch my whole life. Good 'ible though!
tcase Spint5 years ago
From what I understand, its not that they will die if you take care of them if you understand how to, and try to do the research. What I think you heard is that if you disturb a nest by removing the bedding and putting it back, the mother will abandon the nest. We had this happen when we lived in ohio. I, as a young stuborn child uncovered a nest and recovered it.. I was afraid that when they mowed the grass to the field they were in, they would be killed.... my mother watched to see if the mother mother had come back... dont know how she would know... but evidently the mother either didnt come back, or my mother got tired of waiting 3 days and wanted to make sure they were taken care of... not knowing about rabbits in the first place, and trying our best. We made a new nest in a box, when the babies got big enough, they tried jumping out of the box, breaking their necks in the process... If I knew then, what I know now, I would have just left them alone, but now raising rabbits for food, I understand that when they were jumping out of the box, they should have just been let go. Wild animals are wild animals, no matter if you raise them domestically or not, and should be left alone. If your sure the mother abandoned the nest, make sure you do research in takeing care of wild rabbits because some people can tell you some things and others will tell you another. No matter what, always, always CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL.
Spl1nt3rC3ll (author)  Spint6 years ago
Thanks! Glad to hear that some survived! But, as you said, you have more experience with animals. Most people would give the rabbit the wrong type of milk (cow's milk, for example), or try to feed them lettuce and carrots, resulting in the rabbit's death. Where did you get the rodent milk?
worleyll6 years ago
I found two babies running around my house. They are about the size of the one in step 5. We put them near our chimney and they stayed there all night. Are they old enough to be on there own? Should we feed them anything? Should we move them away from the chimney to see if they will go?
Why not just let the parents do their job?
Spl1nt3rC3ll (author)  I_am_Canadian6 years ago
Did you read the Instructable? Specifically steps two and three?
Ahh... Now i get it. Neat 'ible.
(\/)
(='.'=) This is Mr.bunny! Copy and past him on
(")_(") every video you see today to help him achieve domination
Spl1nt3rC3ll (author)  Spl1nt3rC3ll6 years ago
You must let the mother do her job, otherwise the babies will die. That is key to the babies' survival. You cannot "adopt" them or try to care for them yourself. Unless you are a professional, they will die. Even if you are a professional, there is a high chance of death. You can do things like rescue them from the dog, repair the nest, and check up on their progress, but you can't take them into your home.
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