Rescuing Baby Rabbits!

These rabbits were discovered by a dog! They appear unharmed by the dog but I brought them home just in case. They fit in the palm of my hand. What solid food do they start on? What do I feed them if they are not eating solid food?

Stella from WA

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July 17, 20080 found this helpful

Stella,

Just went through this myself a few months ago. You need the following:

1 can Kitten Replacement Formula - comes in small cans

small feeding syringe - looks just like the ones they give you shots with, but with no needle

Medium-sized bag of ALFALFA hay - if not, larger

a bag of Rabbit food pellets - get the bag that has alfalfa and various foods that they find in the wild

two tiny (1/4cup size) ceramic food bowls

Small bottle of Vita-Sol liquid vitamins

1 round Salt tablet

You won't be able to find most of this at WalMart. Try PetsMart or a feed store.

Keep them inside a pet carrier with a folded towel. Keep them inside your house, away from neighborhood animals. Outside animals WILL try to get to them.

You'll only need to feed the milk for a few days until they pick up their strength again and start to get a little chubby. But fill one of the bowls with the food pellets and fill the other with water and about 3 drops of Vita-Sol. Change the water daily.

Most important -

Wrap them in a towel for handling while you're feeding, to keep them from escaping and to catch the mess. And you will go through some messes with the milk! Number One goal - utmost caution when forcing milk into their mouth. You DON'T want milk coming through their noses. It will kill them. Hand-feeding them has to start with a drop at a time. Some will "get it" and begin to grab the nose of the syringe. You want to see them swallowing the milk. Another drop and another drop - gradually adding drops at a time until they finally get the hang of it and figure out what you're trying to do for them. You'll need to feed them milk twice a day.

As for their pellets and all, wild bunnies feed at night mostly. But you can feed them rinsed-off treats like a strawberry, lettuce, carrots that are shredded with a potato peeler. They'll need a piece of wood to sit on and twigs to chew on.

Wood is vital to rabbits. Their teeth never stop growing, just like cows horns. Chewing the wood keeps their teeth in check.

Clean the carrier and replace the towel every day.

Once they become too much for you to handle when trying to take them out to clean their cage - it's time for release - usually within a couple weeks! If you don't want trouble, you'll take them off and release them into a pasture or by a pond or lake.

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July 17, 20080 found this helpful

I am not sure about rabbits but I had baby squirrels that I bottle fed with canned kitten milk. You can get it at the co-op or Petsmart.

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July 17, 20080 found this helpful

I started using a dropper to give them milk but I got rabbit food once I realized they had teeth. I'm not sure how old rabbits are before they get teeth.

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July 17, 20080 found this helpful

We had the same thing happen, only our cat actually brought the baby bunny into us. We could never find the nest to put it back, but even if we could have found it, we would have left the nest alone so the mother rabbit would still be interested in her youngings. I'm sure she doesn't want the smell of human (or cat) all over her babies.

I'm surprise you didn't leave them be. The mom was probably scared away by the dog or she was out looking for food. (She would have come back to her little ones later on when "the coast was clear"). I thought we were all taught as children to leave nests alone & never leave our scent on newborn animals. But now that you have them, you are responsible for them. Go to any pet store or call a vet & ask what to feed them. You'll be up every 2 or 3 hours feeding them all night long. Plan on not getting any sleep & make sure they are kept warm. A heating pad is to hot, & a hot water bottle will work, but you'll need to keep changing it out with new warm water. Invest in a thermometer to make sure they aren't to hot or to cold.

If you keep them to long they will become dependant on you & will no longer be wild, & you'' have to find a home for them on Craig's list. If you decide to keep them as pets make sure they have their Rabies shot & are wormed etc.

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July 17, 20080 found this helpful

Good luck.

Back in the 70's, we had a cat that raised a squirrel. I tried feeding him but he almost died. He was lifeless when I put him with our cat and her baby kittens, to see if he would nurse. He grabbed hold of her nipple and in just a few minutes he perked up. The cat mothered the squirrel just like she did her kittens and raised him.

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July 17, 20080 found this helpful

WeldrBrat had lots of great advice. A previous poster mentioned keeping them or giving them away on Craig's list... keeping the babies in captivity may be illegal in your state, as it is in mine. Wild rabbits do not thrive in captivity. That poster also had other well-meaning advice that is appropriate for other foundling animals but not for baby rabbits (for example, rabbit kittens do NOT need to be fed every few hours, and not at night, because they nurse only a few times a day, and they do not need supplemental heat unless unfurred and VERY young).

There may be a wild animal rescue in your area which could take them, or at least offer good advice. Contact your state wildlife resources agency and ask them if a foundling rescue is available. You will probably be chided for taking them from the wild. Mother animals do not abandon their young because of the scent of humans or dogs... they just wait for the intruder to leave the area before they return. And rabbit mothers only visit the nest a few times a day anyway, so what may seem abandoned is not.

Baby rabbits, incidentally, are not very apt to become overly dependent upon human caregivers and are very quick to revert to a wild state. It is actually difficult to keep them tame as they grow up!

I know that domestic rabbits are born with tiny little teeth, and suspect that wild rabbits are as well (although they are a different species). So this is not a good way to judge age. Without a photo, it is hard to know how old they are, and so it's also difficult to know what advice to give. Rabbits are very independent, and the little ones will be able to be released into the wild much sooner than you might think.

You describe the babies as being able to fit in the palm of your hand. A book I have on the care of foundlings says this about rabbits: <i>"When they are still tiny enough to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand they will be making little forages away from the nest to eat clover and grass."</i> This implies that your babies are almost old enough to fend for themselves. It goes on to say: <i>"A young rabbit four inches in length in his natural sitting position is well able to forage for himself and should not be kept in captivity any longer."</i> Since the age of your rabbits is in question, keep this in mind.

WeldrBrat's advice was so inclusive that there is not much to add about care. But I wanted to add one bit... depending on how young these babies are, they might need help eliminating waste. A cotton ball dipped in warm water will work... just use it in the same way that a mother rabbit would to "lick" the area, very gently. You will know if your babies need this attention if (A) you have not seen any urine or feces expelled since you got them, or {B} you do the procedure and they elminate quickly. This should be done several times a day, especially after feedings. Once they are eating solid food, they will not need this done for them. As a general rule, if their eyes are closed, they will need this help. If open, they will not.

Best of luck with their care, but keep in mind that they are not pets. I know it is easy to get attached to foundlings... I have raised and released possums and a fawn. They stole my heart, but I knew they belonged in the wild.

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July 18, 20080 found this helpful

I suggest finding a wildlife rehabber in your area. here is a lady that is a certified rehabber in the next county out of Baltimore. I have taken birds there.

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October 6, 20080 found this helpful

Five days ago, my brother hit a small rabbit with a weedeater on accident. The rabbit hid, but his dog found him, and my brother brought the rabbit to me. The skin on his back, left leg was peeled off down to the bone; from the 'elbow' to the tip of his tiny toes. I knew if I left him, he'd either get an infection, be caught by a bird of prey, or be eaten alive by ants (As ants were already on him, not 15 minutes after he was injured.) So, I brought him home, and put him in a box with a towel, disinfected and bandaged his foot. He's now in a large pet carrier with plain, shredded paper and alfalfa hay (mixed). I made him a "hole in the ground" out of an empty, clean oatmeal canister and put hay in that. I give him a choice of rabbit food (Pellets), Carrots, tomatoes, cabbage and lettuce. He's doing very well. His foot is healing amazingly and he's still quite tame. I realize that he may become more wild and, very well may, have to be released, but, for now I'm doing what I can. This is his foot:

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