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HELP! I'VE FOUND AN ABANDONED WILD BABY RABBIT!

Each year we receive numerous calls regarding what appears to be an abandoned wild baby rabbit. It is not uncommon for a mother rabbit to leave babies alone for a while during the day- most likely she is in the area. After nursing her babies she will leave the nest to forage. If you have found a baby rabbit all by itself, look for the nest. It will be in the ground, lined with grass and the mother's fur. There will probably be other babies there. One way to tell if the nest has been abandoned is to place two lightweight sticks across the nest in an X pattern then leave the area. Return much later on in the day, and if the sticks have been moved then the mother has visited the nest. Feel the babies. If they are warm and their bellies feel full then Mom is definitely nearby.

If you can't find the nest and the baby is larger than your fist, its eyes are open, and its ears are straight up, then it's on its own and should be released in a thickly wooded area where there is undergrowth. A field or lawn with woods and undergrowth is best. If the baby's ears are back and its eyes are closed, then it needs your help. Keep the baby warm by holding it in your hands or cuddle it under your shirt. Hold it gently but securely so it doesn't jump. A fall from any height can kill it, or it can go into shock. Place the baby in a box lined with white sheets or use T-shirt or sweatshirt material. Do not use newspaper, shredded bedding or any kind of paper as these can be toxic. A soda bottle filled with very warm water and placed in a sock makes a nice hot water bottle.

It is imperative that you immediately call a wildlife rehabilitator (see below) who can guide you through some immediate steps to help save the baby. They will also make arrangements with you to transport the baby rabbit to their shelter. Do not try to nurse the baby rabbit on your own; the end result will most likely be heartbreaking.

In Massachusetts you can contact:

New England Wildlife Center
Hingham, MA
781-749-1248

Or

Tufts Wildlife Center
(injured baby buns only)
Grafton, MA
508-839-7918

Locate a rehabber in your state

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Directory

Copyright - 2001-2002 Cherryl Reinhardt