Wild rabbits started birthing their multiple litters earlier than usual because of the mild winter, so don't be surprised if you find a nest of baby bunnies in your yard. Here's what to do -- and what not to do -- about them.
According to www.rabbit.org, wild rabbits hide their nests -- built with fur and grasses -- in plain view, like in the middle of a lawn.
A mother rabbit nurses her babies with her super-rich milk for about five minutes a day, usually early in the morning or in the evening. So the babies are alone for much of the time. But they aren't abandoned. Just leave them alone.
If the nest is in a fenced area of your yard where your dog or cat will likely come upon it, it's OK to move it outside the fence. Nests can be moved to a safer place up to 10 feet away from the original site. To make a new nest, scoop out a shallow hole about three inches deep and put as much of the original material into it as you can recover, including the mother's fur. Gently place the baby rabbits into the relocated nest. Touching them will not cause their mother to reject them.
To determine if the mother has returned to the relocated nest, create a pattern over the nest with straw, grasses or tiny twigs. Wait 24 hours to see if the twigs have been disturbed -- look carefully, as she may be able to nurse the youngsters without moving the twigs much.
If the babies look healthy and are warm, the mother has found them and fed them. If that's the case, leave them alone. Sure, they're adorable, but as they grow older and more mobile, your presence will scare them and they'll bolt -- possibly into the very yard you rescued them from.
If they are cold or dehdyrated, contact a wildlife rehabilitator (to view a list of Arkansas rehabilitators click here); don't try to care for the babies yourself.
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