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What baby mammals are in my lawn?
August 7, 2010 6:34 PM   Subscribe

What baby mammals did my rat terrier find?

Right behind our townhouse my dog found a nest of at least two squeaky little baby mammals that I'm curious to identify. She found them last week as well and they've grown a half inch or so since then. They're about three or four inches long with soft grey fur and little closed eyes. Pink hands and feet. They squeak when she picks them up. Basically they look like any baby mammal.

They are down about four inches under the grass cover in the middle of the lawn surrounded in a nest made of mostly light colored hair. I'm a little worried that the next lawn mowing will get them.

Oh, I'm up in western Indiana between Indianapolis and Chicago if that helps.

So are they baby rabbits? Possum? How is they babby formed? I'm so curious! I might be able to take pictures if I have to, but it'd be nice to let them be.
posted by xorry to Science & Nature (15 answers total)
 
They're probably not baby rabbits, though of course it's hard to tell without a picture. Anytime I've seen baby rabbits (in the wild or otherwise), by the time they were 3-4 inches big and furry, you'd definitely be able to identify them as rabbits.

Do the animals have distinctive tails (long, short, furry, hairless)?
posted by mesha steele at 6:48 PM on August 7, 2010


Oh, and rabbits have furry paws, I believe, not "pink hands and feet."
posted by mesha steele at 6:49 PM on August 7, 2010


Could the be voles? Shrews?
posted by Demogorgon at 6:54 PM on August 7, 2010


*they, that is
posted by Demogorgon at 6:55 PM on August 7, 2010


They're not possums; possums are marsupials and the babies would be in the mother's pouch.
posted by dilettante at 7:45 PM on August 7, 2010


I doubt they're rabbits, they would only nest above ground if something awful happened to their borrow (also new borns are hairless). Hares (and Jack rabbits) have ground nest, but they are born with their eyes open. Possums are marsupials, so they don't have nest.

Raccoons might nest on the ground if it is an extremely treeless area, but I'd think they are going do anything to get up as high as they can.

Are there chipmunks around? Skunks?
posted by Some1 at 7:48 PM on August 7, 2010


Not possum. They would be in their mother's pouch.

Very young rabbits are not very distinctive looking and this is the type of habitat a rabbit would pick for a nest. Does the fur in the nest look like it could be rabbit fur? There is a photo of a young cottontail on this page: http://www.nebraskawildliferehab.org/photo_gallery.html
Know that mother rabbits only visit their babies a few times a day, so you won't normally see the her (if they are rabbits).

Is your dog staying away from the nest?
posted by Agatha at 7:51 PM on August 7, 2010


Squirrels? The babies don't necessarily have fluffy tails yet (and some ground squirrels' tails don't ever get very fluffy at all).
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:30 PM on August 7, 2010


Three or four inches long at that age rule our most small mammals (voles, shrews, mice, moles, etc.) and...rabbits often nest above ground....They are NOT raccoons or possums... we need pictures!

but...I'm guessing rabbits...
posted by HuronBob at 8:32 PM on August 7, 2010


If they are in the middle of the lawn they are most likely rabbits. They are the only lawn babies that you really find in West Lafayette. I hope you haven't touched them, because if you did they are most likely going to be rejected or killed by their mother. If you think mom isn't coming back, call Wildcat Wildlife rescue in Delphi, and they can tell you what to do.
posted by bolognius maximus at 8:46 PM on August 7, 2010


Sounds like rabbits! I'll call rescue tomorrow. They look just like this picture. I only touched them to remove them from the dog (soft mouth) who thought they were the neatest little squeaky things ever. Hopefully the rejection by mother warning is just a myth (I think there was an NPR piece recently about how it was a myth with baby birds?), but I'd like to see them safe. It wouldn't matter either way if they get run over or stepped on.
posted by xorry at 8:56 PM on August 7, 2010


Ah-ha! From the rescue site:
Baby Rabbits

If you find a nest of baby rabbits and the nest is intact and the babies uninjured, leave them alone. Mother rabbits only visit their young 2-3 times a day to avoid attracting predators.

If the rabbit nest has been disturbed, or if you think the babies are orphaned, recover the nest with surrounding natural materials such as grass and leaves.

Put an “X” of sticks or yarn over the nest to assess if the mother is returning to nurse her young.

If the “X” is moved but the nest is still covered by the next day, the mother has returned to nurse the babies.

If the “X” remains undisturbed for 24 hours, contact a wildlife rehabilitator near you.

Keep all pets out of the area, as they will surely find and kill the young rabbits. Also, try not to touch the babies, as mother rabbits are very sensitive to foreign smells and may abandon their young. A rabbit who is four inches long with open eyes and erect ears is independent from his mother and able to fend for himself.

posted by xorry at 9:05 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm still worried about the mowers.. hmm.. I'll try the X thing tomorrow and give them a call.
posted by xorry at 9:08 PM on August 7, 2010


You could get some dowels or metal rods and attach fluorescent tape to the top, and plunge a few into the ground a foot or so away from the nest in different directions, to keep from mowing over the nest. You can also buy premade flag things like that at any big box garden supply or home improvement center.
posted by Mizu at 6:59 AM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I had similar squeaky baby rabbits in our lawn in May, that our dog kept trying to get into. I almost did mow over them. What I did to keep the dog out, mark their space, and keep them from drowning in the torrential downpours that month: I took a cheap styrofoam cooler, tipped upside down, and cut big arches in all four sides so it was like a roof with open doors all around. I put this over their nest with a gallon-jug full of water on top, to keep it from blowing over. It worked really well. The mother rabbit could still get in to tend the babies (I never saw her but I know she was there), the family was kept dry, and the "doors" were too small for the dog to get her head into. After 2-3 weeks either the mother moved them or the babies grew up enough to move out. But as far as I know, they all survived and everyone lived happily ever after.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 7:27 AM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


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