A mother rabbit, or doe, will never abandon her babies. Only her death or the creation of an environment where she cannot get to her babies will deter her from returning. Most of the time, when you find a baby bunny, it is OK.

Start by looking for its nest. Look for a shallow depression lined with grass and fur. If the baby’s eyes are still closed, it is under 10 days old. If the babies look fat and plump, are nestled next to each other, and if there seems to be no immediate danger to them, please LEAVE THEM ALONE!

You can check to see if the mother rabbit is coming back to the nest by doing the following: criss-cross the nest with strands of dental floss or other thin string. If the string is pushed back out of the way in the morning, then you know that mom has returned to the babies and they are alright. If their nest has been damaged, it can be repaired. Place babies back in the nest with light layers of grass to hide them.

Unlike what you may have heard, their mother will accept them back, even if you have touched them. Leave the area, or the mother won’t return. Mothers return at dawn and dusk to feed and care for their babies. They do this so that a predator cannot see the mother returning to her nest. She feeds two to three times within 12-hour time frames. It only takes a minute or so for a baby’s stomach to be filled and the feeding complete.

cottontail02If your cat or dog has brought a baby bunny in, look for wounds. If you see blood and you can’t find the nest, only then take in in. Put it in a box with something soft and then please call a “licensed” wildlife rehab facility. You will only be harming and causing pain to this baby bunny if you try to raise it on your own.

In the case you have had one bunny brought in by your cat or dog, there are usually more in the nest. You can easily keep the cat or dog from harming any more of the babies. Take a large storage container and cut out a hole or rectangle about 4” in diameter, then tip it upside down over the nest. Place something heavy on top of the container that will hold it in place so that a dog can’t tip it. The mother will continue to go in and feed her babies, not allowing the dog or cat to disturb them any further.

If you find healthy bunnies that are 4-5 inches long, able to hop, with eyes open and ears up, they do not need your help – they are starting to forage for food, and they are able to survive on their own, so please leave them alone.