Wild Bunnies

Charli Saltzman

One warm Saturday afternoon while my sister and I were outside, we suddenly heard this squealing, squeaky sound. It sort of sounded like a squeaky toy, and I thought that my neighbor’s kids were playing with something. Then, I heard my dad calling me to come here and look what he found. When I approached him, he was holding a very tiny bunny in his hand. It had been caught under the bush, and Dad picked it up because he wanted me to see it. I remember holding the little baby bunny. It was so tiny, and I immediately wondered where its mother was. My dad found an open cardboard box, and we stuck the little bunny in there. I sat on the porch with it for a while, and I so badly wanted to keep it. My cousins had had rabbits for years, so why couldn’t I keep this one.

After a while, I remember going in the house and going directly to the computer. I decided to research rabbits on the internet and see what I could come up with. I wondered how to properly care for them. From what I found on the internet, these bunnies are hard to care for. Below are a few things I found online about bunnies recently. Oh, and by the way, we did not keep the bunny. The minute we let him go, he hopped away, probably into the pasture behind our house. Anyway, here is some information I found.

Wild baby cottontail rabbits are the hardest to raise. Now, I’m not sure if the bunny we found was a cottontail rabbit or not, but this is good information for you to have. First, they may not last very long if they are away from their mother who provides them with the necessary milk to survive. It is very easy to overfeed these young bunnies. Cow’s milk is not a good source and is not as thick as rabbit’s milk. It also doesn’t contain the mother’s antibodies that rabbit’s milk contains to protect against infections. Giving the bunny too much milk is not good, and feeding it too infrequently can cause the bunny to become hungry and nurse a lot when you finally do feed it. Also, trauma can really stress them out. Just because you are able to handle them doesn’t mean they are not afraid. If you do take a wild baby bunny in, you have to have a temperature that is appropriate for them. This appropriate temperature can vary. You want it to be warm but not hot. Cooler is a little better for a bunny who has grown thick fur because, if you have a soft nest for it, the bunny may just burrow down in the nest to keep warm. Finally, raising a baby bunny takes up a lot of time, so if you already know you are busy, you will not have time to take care of the bunny. In order to take care of these bunnies, you have to act like the bunny’s mother, providing the appropriate bacteria the bunny needs. There are formulas you can feed the bunny. Another thing to consider is this question: is this bunny really an orphan.

Too often, we assume that, if a bunny is by itself, it must be an orphan. This is not always the case. Mother rabbits only stay close to their babies to nurse them. They may come back at night and be gone during the day. If you see a nest with bunnies, or you see a single bunny buried in brush, leave it alone because, most likely, the mother is somewhere close by. The only time you should move it is if there are dogs and cats around. As you probably know, dogs and cats tend to prey on rabbits.

Keeping a wild bunny as a pet is unlikely. It is often necessary to only raise them to prepare them to live in the wild again. If you are unsure how to do this, take the bunny to a wildlife rehabilitation center that specializes in these bunnies. Personally, I’m glad we decided to release that bunny back to where it belonged. I hope it found its mother and was able to survive.

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