Cottontail rabbits bear young in shallow depressions in the ground. The nest is lined with fur from the mother's belly. Baby rabbits may venture from the nest as soon as two weeks after birth. At the age of three to four weeks a cottontail rabbit is roughly the size of a tennis ball and is able to live independently.
If you have discovered an occupied nest in your yard:
Keep pets and children away. A lawnmower or propped wheelbarrow can be placed over the nest to protect it while still allowing mother rabbit to fit under to feed her young. The Wildlife Rescue Center recommends that a lawnmower be temporarily disabled or marked appropriately to ensure that it is not started over the nest.
If you believe the mother has abandoned the nest:
A healthy mother rabbit will visit the nest only for a short time each night. While mother rabbit is most likely close by, she will rarely make herself visible. Place two pieces of string or yarn over the nest in an "X". Check the following morning to see if the mother has displaced the string. If the string is still in place, it does not necessarily mean the babies are abandoned. Contact the Wildlife Rescue Center for information on determining if the babies are being cared for.
If the nest has been disturbed:
Locate the nest and return the young. Cover the babies with nesting material. Follow instructions on protecting the nest and determining if a nest has been abandoned. The mother rabbit will not abandon her young due to human scent.
By a dog or cat:
Contact the Wildlife Rescue Center immediately if the baby is obviously injured. If no injury is observed, locate the nest and return babies. Follow instructions on protecting the nest and determining if a nest is abandoned. Keep pets away from nest area.
Contact the Wildlife Rescue Center at (636) 394-1880 for instruction on any situation not covered by the preceding information.
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