On a walk you or your dog may find or encounter some baby rabbits that appear to be abandoned. Many people mean well when they contact professionals after discovering an abandoned nest of wild rabbits or an orphaned baby rabbit alone in an open field. Often they wish to care foster them. The reality is fewer than 10% of orphaned rabbits survive once being fostered, and the care that people attempt to provide can be illegal, unnecessary, and potentially harmful. Baby rabbits are extremely difficult to raise. Just by touching them, humans put them at great risk of potentially deadly intestinal infections due to our normal bacteria.
The baby is probably not abandoned. You are most likely seeing a baby who has recently left the nest and is now exploring his surroundings in preparation for living on his own. It is best to leave him to his own abilities, and not disturb him. The best thing you can do is leave the rabbit alone, or put the rabbit back where you found him (at least in the general area). The Mom will come back at night to call and find him.
A mother rabbit stays away from her babies when she’s not feeding them, so she does not attract predators. She will feed only once or twice a day, and when she returns to feed, she calls to the babies so they can find her. If you find a baby rabbit and he looks perky and active, then you can be confident that mom is caring for him, even if you can’t see her and you can let him be.
If the rabbit is injured or you can absolutely confirm that the mother is dead and the baby is in desperate need of help, please contact a wildlife rehabilitator or rabbit veterinarian immediately.
Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation 403-946-2361
For more information call Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 587-855-5372.
Dana. “Saving Wild Baby Rabbits.” Web June 18, 2021. www.bio.miami.edu/hare/wildbabies.pdf.
House Rabbit Society. “Orphaned Baby Bunnies.” Web June 18, 2021. rabbit.org/faq-orphaned-baby-bunnies/.