HOW DO I KNOW IF A BABY IS ABANDONED/ORPHANED ?
Momma bunnies dig their nest in a quiet spot in a yard, fill it over with a little of the fur she rips from her body to help keep the babies warm. After delivering the litter, she will immediately cover the babies with the grass/leaves/fur mixture and leave. The helps to protect the babies because the nest is easier to find if she stays close by. Then usually around dusk or dawn, she will find her way back to the nest to nurse the young babies (called kits). Her milk is very rich and full of nutrients and calories and this once-a-day "power shake" is all they need to stay hydrated and healthy. The babies can feed at dawn or dusk and they are finished eating in just a few minutes. Then they can be left alone all day again.
Over time the babies begin venturing out of the nest, scattering all over, hiding and digging and playing. The Momma Bunny will almost never be anywhere near the babies during the day and she won't be stopping by the nest to see how they are doing. Again this is to help keep all of them from being seen as easily by predators. To protect the location of the nest, she avoids the area; coming back only to briefly nurse the young at dawn and dusk.
These natural behaviors is why many people will find a baby bunny and suspect that it is abandoned. A Momma Bunny is a very good, caring, nurturing parent, so she will not just leave the babies (called "kits.")
Springtime is when you'll start finding baby bunnies everywhere. If your child brings a bunny it found, take the bunny back to where it was found asap. If not, it will surely die. Truthfully, it might die anyway, but it has a better chance with its mommas milk. The pair miraculously find each other to nurse at night or early AM. If you can't find the nest easily, find a nearby bush and make a shallow nest for it. Behind/under a bush, dig a shallow ditch (big enough for it and four others to snuggle in). Cover with grass, leaves, anything to shield bunnies from the sun, lawnmowers and predators. The baby bunny might hop out for now, but it will have a safe place if needed.
WHEN TO RESCUE A BUNNY:
1) If a cat/dog has injured a bunny or you saw it in another animal's mouth. Otherwise, just return it to the nest, keep your pets away from the bunnies and let nature take it's course.
2) If you notice a rapidly dehydrating bunny
However if you are worried, simply check the nest over a few days. Without the milk they will very quickly become dehydrated and look like they are deflating as they loose weight. By the second day, you'd notice that it was getting thinner and just look tired/sick. Then the decline happens quickly and this leads to death.
EMERGENCY RESCUE: 651-486-9453.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota
Hours: 9am-8pm M-F 9am-6pm Sat./Sun. Year Round.
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WILL THE MOMMA BUNNY ABANDON THE BABY IF I TOUCHED IT?
A: Probably not. Although they have a strong sense of smell, this probably won't make her leave. However, if they can't find the nest (mowed yard, disturbed by animal) and they are gone for more than a day, the Momma Bunny might assume they were all eaten and then she'll leave.
HOW OLD IS THE BUNNY?
A: This varies with the breed but here are some tips to determine the approximate age
Very fine, thin fur/fluff, eyes still closed: 1-7 days
Eyes open: 5-7 days
Ears stand erect: 9-12 days
Complete, thick coat of fur: 14 days
Nibble on items: 12-15 days
Active and exploring: 15-20 days
5-6 inches long: 17-22 days
Acts jumpy, responds to sudden noises: 21 days