A very famous bunny will be finding his way into many homes this week to offer sweet goodies to our children. Here at Cedar Run, our wildlife hospital will be receiving not just traditional baskets, but boxes and bins as well… not full of candied treats, but full of wild babies!
With baby season officially upon us, our wildlife hospital will be bursting at the seams this spring. Many of our young patients are baskets of bunnies. They are most often found in the yard while cleaning out the old planters for new spring flowers, or under an azalea bush in a small pile of leaves. We often hear the story about how they were just laying in the middle of the yard and how the family dog had found them.
The funny thing about rabbits is they leave their babies lying around just about anywhere, and quite often right under the nose of our family pets. They are usually found in shallow divots filled with fur, grass and leaves. The mother only comes to feed the nest of (on average, six) offspring, at dawn and dusk.
While we are certainly eager to care for the young patients we receive, we do encourage well-meaning rescuers to leave bunny babies where they lay, even if it appears the nest has been disturbed. The hardest thing to handle for many rescuers to accept is that wild bunnies are not the type of bunnies you can keep as pets. These are the wild Eastern Cottontail, very different than the domesticated bunnies found in pet stores. It would be like comparing a wild wolf to a domesticated Chihuahua. It took hundreds of years to selectively breed and domesticate dogs to become household pets. While rabbits may not hunt in packs or eat a carnivorous diet (although, that would make for a great story), the fact is they do not thrive in captivity.
Our hospital phone rings constantly from March to November with good samaritans conveying story after story of, “They were just lying there”. It is difficult for the human mind to comprehend the incredible endurance of these tiny beings. Helpless balls of cuteness, it is hard to accept as humans that leaving them be is actually the best thing we can do for them. They can withstand both bitter cold and unbearably hot temperatures, the downpours of spring as well as the summer rain. Bunnies are perfectly adapted for any condition.
Within just three short weeks they will be about the size of a tennis ball and out on their own. The poor mama will be busy, having potentially up to one litter a month. Rabbit gestation lasts 28-31 days, and mother rabbits can be impregnated again literally within minutes of giving birth. I cannot even imagine… three kids are enough for me!
Please refer to our link under REHABILITATION to see if your babies need to be brought to the hospital for care. Just know that often times leaving a baby bunny where you found it is better than “bunny-napping” it from a mama rabbit. A mother’s care is the best care, but know that we will gladly accept them if they are truly orphaned or injured. If you call us in advance, we can offer several remedies for pet disturbances and concerns regarding their safety.
So, when the kiddos are out there searching for colorful eggs and treats, keep in mind that our local bunnies may have hidden their treasures under foot and bushes as well.