What to do if you find a wild baby bunny in your yard
Spring is upon us and so are babies! All types of babies are being born; puppies, kittens, birds, snakes, deer. However, today we are talking about baby bunnies. What do you do if you find one in your yard? Well, I can tell you from experience that collecting that bunny in hopes of saving it is the last thing you want to do! For the sake of the rabbit, just throw that idea in the trash right away. Wild rabbits are very difficult to raise to adulthood. It can also be a bad idea for your own sake. Chances are that your efforts will be for naught and the baby rabbit will die while in your care. That’s heartbreaking.
Young wild rabbits are hard to care for and quick to die when removed from their natural environment. The babies (called kits) expire for any number of reasons. They are extremely sensitive to stress. They often have not built up sufficient reserves of the natural antibodies or necessary colostrum they get from their mother’s milk. Because of this, they aren’t equipped to cope with stressful environmental conditions, and anything outside of their natural outdoor environment. Most newborn babies will require tube feeding and it is a difficult task to perform even for me, a trained professional. Many times the supplement is aspirated into the lungs and the baby then dies.
Are they left there alone without a mother? Why hasn’t the mother been sitting with her babies? Mother rabbits typically visit the nest intermittently during the night or in the early morning, and only for a few minutes at a time to quickly nurse the kits. If you don’t see a mother rabbit near the nest don’t assume that the kits are abandoned.
So what should you do with that baby rabbit you found or that your children brought home? After explaining to your children that it’s probably best for the rabbit to be returned to the wild, you should do just that. Put the kit back where you or they found it, cover it with some grass and walk away. If you returned the baby to a spot in your yard and you have a dog or cat, keep them away from the area until the rabbits are gone. We leashed our dog and took him to another area of the yard to do his business. It only took a day or two before the little rabbits had moved out.
If you cannot return the kit to the nest, there are other options. You can find a number of good online wildlife rescue sources that detail how to care for baby rabbits. Operation wildlife is just one of our local wildlife rehab groups that can help you out. Just call them at 785-542-3625.
It’s worth bearing in mind that not all rabbits are meant to survive. It is natural and healthy for the rabbit population that a good many kits do not survive. Rabbits also perform their duty as food for other animals. It’s a necessary circle of life scenario.
Lastly, don’t think about making the rabbit a pet. Besides being illegal, it won’t work out. If you want a pet rabbit then purchase a domestic rabbit bred to be a pet. You and the rabbit will be happier.