by Molly Kinkaid
MK Satins Rabbitry
Grand Champion Blue Satins
Black and Chocolate Satins
found a baby wild rabbit! What do I do?"
is something rabbit breeders hear all too often,
especially in springtime. In most cases, young,
inexperienced baby rabbits are found shortly
after the mother has kicked them out of the
nest. People stumble across the babies, assume
they are orphans, and try to do the right thing
by giving them cow's milk and cabbage, which
often is fatal for the babies.
what should you do if you find wild baby rabbits?
The answer to this question is pretty simple:
in most cases you should leave them where you
found them. Wild rabbits do not need human
help, unless the mother rabbit has been killed.
Do not handle them (or any other wild animal)
unless absolutely necessary. Wild rabbits are
host to fleas, ticks, lice, and other parasites
that can transmit disease to humans and domestic
can you tell if a baby rabbit is old enough
to fend for itself? Look for a white blaze
on their foreheads. If they don't have
the blaze, they are old enough to be outside
on their own. Just leave them alone. If they do have
a white blaze, they are still under their
mother's care. Leave them in their nest or
back if they're outside of the nest. If you
are concerned that the mother has abandoned
the babies, take two twigs and lay them in
an "X" over the nest. When mother rabbit
comes to feed them, she will disturb the
female rabbits build shallow nests (called "forms")
and only visit the nest once or twice a day
to nurse. The rest of the time, they will
be out of sight but probably nearby. A mother
rabbit's infrequent visitations are meant
keep the nest hidden - more frequent visits
would draw unwelcome attention from predators.
Because the doe visits the nest typically
just before dawn and just after dark, it
as if the babies were abandoned. If the babies
have full bellies, they are being cared for,
and the best thing you can do is to leave
you know the mother rabbit to be deceased
(say, a dog catches her and you find the
nest) or if the nest has been destroyed,
state Wildlife or Fish & Game department
or a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.
Your veterinarian probably can help you locate
a wildlife rehabilitator because vets typically
get dozens of calls every spring like this.
You can also do a search on the Internet
for a wildlife rehabilitation information
directory to find a wildlife rehabilitator
nearest you. Rehabbers are listed by state.
It is important that you get the babies to
someone who is experienced in raising rabbits
and is licensed by the state to do so because
it is really difficult work to raise baby wild
bunnies to adulthood.
this situation, you might need to nurse the
babies until you can get appropriate care arranged
for them. Here's a rabbit formula you can make
to feed them.
1 can of sweetened condensed milk or fresh
goat's milk (don't use cow's milk)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons Karo corn syrup
1 egg yolk
ingredients in a plastic bowl. Warm
in microwave and heat mixture until
it's slightly above room temperature.
Test it by putting a few drops of the
formula on your wrist first because
you don't want to accidentally scald
the babies with a pet nurser bottle or a feeding
syringe or an eyedropper, and do so slowly.
Baby rabbits are quite uncoordinated and can
easily inhale fluid into their lungs. If they
aspirate the formula into their lungs, they
will die. Please, take it slow!
feeding the babies, you must massage their
lower abdomen with a warm, moist washcloth
to stimulate urination and defecation. Feed
them every three hours or so.
baby rabbits should be kept in a cardboard
box. Place a blanket or old sweatshirt inside
for them to snuggle into. You will need a heat
source to keep them warm. Place a heating pad
beneath the box set on low (or medium,
but beware of high heat - you don't want them
to cook). A hot water bottle will also work
for a heat source, or in a pinch, a 60 watt
lightbulb placed over the box (you must make
sure they don't get too hot). Ideal temperature
is around body temperature; anywhere from 85
to 98 degrees Fahrenheit will suffice. If the
babies are restless and are trying to get away
from the heat, it is too hot for them.
babies must be kept warm at all times. Feed
them only when they are nice and warm.
Cold babies do poorly - their digestion falters,
and they will usually die. Handle them as little
as possible; wild rabbits are very sensitive
and can die from the shock of being handled
by a human!
nursing them, you might be tempted to keep
them as pets. Don't do this! Wild rabbits are
meant to be free and do not make good pets.
They are skittish, nervous, and can be very
aggressive when mature. They do not deal well
interacting with humans because they are very
sensitive and can stress out quickly. It is
also illegal to keep wild animals
or game without the proper permit from the
or your state Wildlife or Fish & Game
if you find a wild baby rabbit that was caught
by a predator such as a cat or dog, the baby
can have severe internal injuries and will
probably die from the shock alone. A loss of
one wild rabbit or even a whole litter is not
a threat to the species. Up to 95 percent of
all wild rabbits die before they are six months
old. It's cruel, but it is nature's way.
more detailed instructions and advice on what
to do about wild baby rabbits, please visit
the following pages: