The Eastern cottontail is mostly crepuscular though they are also active in the middle of the night, especially in the warm spring and summer months. NOTE: Most wildlife rehabilitators do not admit domestic rabbits for treatment.
- Any that were attacked by another animal, especially a cat.
- Any that were hit by a car or moving equipment.
- Any adults that are easy to approach and appear lethargic.
- Any thin baby rabbits – if you find a nest of baby rabbits and they appear thin and bony, they may have been orphaned.
- Rabbit kits whose nest has been destroyed beyond repair.
DO NOT RESCUE:
- Healthy and uninjured nestling rabbits – if you want to make certain the mother visits the nest (which she only does twice a day), place two medium-sized twigs in an X across the nest and check back 24 hours later. If the twigs are displaced, the mother is caring for her young.
- Healthy and uninjured juvenile rabbits – rabbits are only in their nest and nursing for three to four weeks before the female leaves them to have another litter. When the kits are weaned, they are roughly the size of a tennis ball and will remain close to the nest while they start venturing out. Young rabbits freeze more often than they run away as they are too small to outrun their predators. If the young rabbit does not move as you approach but appears uninjured, leave it alone.
IF IT NEEDS REHABILITATION:
- DO NOT handle rabbits any more than absolutely necessary. If they seem calm, it is because they are in shock.
- DO NOT force feed any injured rabbit. Unskilled hands can force food/water into the lungs and excess handling can cause shock and exacerbate the animal’s injuries.
- DO NOT feed any baby. Unskilled hands can force food/water into the lungs and an improper diet can be fatal.
See Transporting Wildlife. Keep it warm and quiet.