“I found a nest of orphaned, eyes-closed baby rabbits. What do I do?”
If the babies’ eyes are still closed, it is under 10 days of age. If the nest is intact, the babies look fat and plump and are nestled snuggly next to each other, and there seems to be no immediate danger to them, then leave them alone!
“I have found a baby cottontail outside of its nest. Is he okay?”
Baby conttontails go mobile between three and four weeks of age. If the cottontail is roughly the size of a baseball, it is old enough to be fully on its own and there is no need to take any action.
If the cottontail’s eyes are closed or it is smaller than a baseball, simply find the nest and renest it. The nest is usually located close to a house or other sheltered environment in shallow holes lined with dried grasses and fur. If the nest is disturbed, gently replace the baby and put the nesting material back in the nest.
Monitor the nest and the babies over the next day or so. If the nest has been disturbed a little, mom has most likely come to feed her babies. You can find out by picking up each baby and turning him over to see if his belly is plump and full. Mom comes to feed at dusk and at dawn, so checking during the middle of the day or in the morning is the best time. If the babies look thin, dehydrated or injured at all, contact us for further information.
The mother rabbit usually feeds her babies under cover of darkness – early in the morning before sunrise and in the evening after sunset. This is so that a predator cannot easily “see” the mother returning to her nest. She feeds two to three times within 12-hour timeframes.
Baby rabbits leave the nest at approximately 3-4 weeks of age (sometimes older). If the rabbit is as big as a tennis ball (or fully fills your hand), then it is able to survive in the wild. At 3-4 weeks of age, their instincts to survive in the wild are fully intact. They know how to camouflage themselves, what natural foods to eat, and what a predator is and how to behave around it.