Important baby bunny information
We are being inundated with baby cottontails in our Wildlife Clinic and receiving countless calls to our Helpline from people concerned about babies they’ve found.
Most of the time the bunnies in question are NOT orphaned. Please read below to learn more about what you should do if you find these critters.
Baby cottontails are ready to be on their own when they are about the size of a softball. If you find one this size and it does not appear injured, let it be!
Mother cottontails feed their babies in the nest just twice a day during overnight hours, so it’s normal not to see mom around during the day. This doesn’t mean the nest has been abandoned.
Simply touching a baby will not result in mom abandoning it, but please don’t touch if you don’t have to! These guys stress very easily and can die from handling-induced stress.
Well-fed bunnies in the nest should have a plump, round belly. If they look skinny and narrow, they may potentially need help. If you lightly pinch their skin on top of their shoulder blades, it should fall right back into place. If it stays pinched in a “tent”, they are dehydrated and need help.
If you aren’t sure if mom is coming back at night, you can put flour around the perimeter of the nest to check for footprints. Or, you can put vegetation over the nest in a specific pattern and check if it has been disturbed.
If dogs are an issue, put a laundry basket upside down on top of the nest during the day when your dog is outside. Be sure to remove it at night so mom can return to feed her babies overnight. Or better yet, keep your dogs on a leash for the short time bunnies will be in their nest.
Keep your cat inside. Cats are notorious for injuring or killing baby bunnies (and other wildlife).
Check for bunny nests before doing yard work. They often nest in tall grasses and will cover the nest with fur and vegetation. If you see a small circle of dry grass and some fur, you might have a nest in your yard!
If you do find a bunny that needs help, contact us or another licensed rehabber. Cottontails are very prone to stress and need specialized wildlife formula and care.