There are at least two approaches to rearing wild rabbits. According to the House Rabbit Society website, doing more than minimal care of wild rabbits found outdoors will harm the animals. If the babies appear cold and dehydrated, call a wildlife rehabilitator. A second approach, used by feeders of orphaned wild rabbits, specifies regimens and guidelines for housing and feeding, says the British Wildlife Helpline.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Rabbit cage
- Heating pad
- Esbilac milk powder substitute
- Abidec multivitamins
- Shallow dish
- Rabbit toys (wooden logs, wide pipes)
- Antibacterial detergent
- Trigene, a disinfectant
Keep any pets, such as dogs or cats, away from the area if you find a nest of wild baby rabbits
Reconstruct the nest in a safe place and about 10 feet away from its original spot. Dig a 3-inch-deep hole and place as much of the dry grass and mother's fur from the original nest into the new nest. Add straw and grass if necessary.
Put the young rabbits into the new nest.
Create a tic-tac-toe pattern with small twigs or dry grass over the nest. Return in 24 hours to see if the mother rabbit has returned by checking for disturbance of the nest.
Check the baby rabbits for dehydration if the mother has not returned overnight. Pinch some loose skin in the back of a baby rabbit's neck. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator if the baby's skin fails to cling back to the body and forms a tent or a bubble.
Approach One: Minimal care
Place the wild baby rabbit in a cage that can be heated around-the-clock. Use a plug-in heating pad so the rabbit can move away from the pad if it feels too hot. Line the cage with a towel and newspaper. Place a second towel over the heating pad for the rabbit to bed in. Put a few wooden logs and wide plastic pipes in the cage for play, and a shallow dish of spring or filtered water.
Apply constant heat for the first 10 to 12 days. Heat the cage at night only from day 12 to 15. Take the heating pad away by day 20.
Use Esbilac, a powder milk substitute, to feed the rabbits. Warm the milk in a baby bottle warmer. Feed the rabbits with a syringe to prevent inhalation pneumonia. Feed the rabbits four times a day for the first few days in four-hour intervals. Add a drop of Abidec, or multivitamins, to the first feed of the day.
Lay a clean towel over your legs and lap. Raise one leg higher than the other to form a cradle. Hold the rabbit with its stomach down. Position the front part of its body on your higher leg. Use your thumb and middle finger to gently hold the rabbit's head. Use your second finger to prevent the head from whipping back. Place the teat along the side of the front teeth and just between the rabbit's lips. Pause between mouthfuls so that the baby rabbit can clear its mouth.
Clean the cage every two days for the first few days with an antibacterial detergent. Use diluted Trigene, a disinfectant, once a week. Do not put the rabbits back in the cage until it is dry. Clean the cage every day after about a week. Sterilise feeding tools in a baby bottle sterilizer that employs steam.
Approach Two: Active care of wild rabbits
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