Don't kill the wabbit!
July 3, 2011 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Help! I just accidentally ran over a rabbit's nest with my lawn mower. I didn't hurt any of them, but about four or five baby rabbits scattered into the woods, obviously scared to death. I've found a couple of them and I'm not sure what to do.

They're just sitting there motionless, one in the grass, one under a bush. If I poked around I'm sure I could find a couple more. They're all about ten or fifteen feet from where the nest is. The bunnies are each no bigger than a kiwi fruit and holy crap are they cute.

I have't seen any sign of the mother today, though we've seen plenty of full grown rabbits around lately. We don't have many predators, just a red tailed hawk and possibly a coyote. There should be enough squirrels and chipmunks to keep them fed though.

So what do I do? Should I gather the ones I can find and put them back into the nest so at least they're together? Should I leave it alone and expect mommy rabbit to gather them up? How long should I wait before I need worry? It's been over an hour and they're still in the same place.

I have a feeling it'll sort itself out but I feel pretty shitty about this and I'd like to do what I can, if there is something to do.
posted by bondcliff to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: What to do if a nest is disturbed.
posted by essexjan at 9:53 AM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Orphaned Baby Bunnies

Many people mean well when they contact HRS after discovering an "abandoned" nest of wild rabbits. Often they wish to "rehabilitate" them with some advice from others. The reality is fewer than 10% of orphaned rabbits survive a week, and the care that people attempt to provide can be illegal, unnecessary, and potentially harmful. The best thing you can do is put the bunny right back where you found him, in the general area, as the Mom will only come back at night to call and find him. Leave the area. If injured, please contact a Wildlife Rehabilitator or rabbit vet immediately.
posted by sbutler at 10:07 AM on July 3, 2011

Just so you don't get your hopes up, when I accidentally string trimmed a bunny nest mom ran for it and the babies all stayed put. Mom never came back. I ended up holding a little burial ceremony for the baby bunnies.
posted by COD at 10:37 AM on July 3, 2011

We did that and the mom did come back and the babies all survived the season... so while anecdotal, at least it's possible to have a happy ending. We just left them be and kept the dog away from them, the babies went back to the nest and mom came back by the next morning.
posted by katers890 at 10:43 AM on July 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, folks. I think I was in panic mode. I'm ok now.

We found two and tried to pick them up but suddenly they were quite mobile. We put one back in the nest and covered it up, only to have him run away into the garden. The other one we ran after a bit but then we decided not to traumatize him any further.

At this point we're not going to worry about it and we'll let nature take its course, for better or for worse. We did see a grown rabbit in the back yard, so maybe the mother will round them up later.

Baby bunny.
posted by bondcliff at 10:51 AM on July 3, 2011 [4 favorites]

yeah, if they're running around, they are mere days from being on their own anyway...momma rabbit is prob out eating and will prob return in the evening to feed them...we had the exact thing happen when i was a kid, but with much younger bunnies (eyes not open yet)..we left them in the nest, momma came back and they were fine...but once they start running around, they're leaving soon anyway...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:58 AM on July 3, 2011

Holy crap that is cute.
posted by mrfuga0 at 10:58 AM on July 3, 2011 [15 favorites]

also, as i'm sure you're finding, returning them to the nest really isnt working, right? :) those suckers are rascally.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:01 AM on July 3, 2011

Thank you for the picture!
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:41 PM on July 3, 2011

That bunny is adorable and you're a good person for being so concerned. I have to admit, when I first read your question, I didn't have anything to contribute and my wise ass response was going to be "take pictures?"
posted by kaybdc at 12:46 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Keep in mind that your presence might be stressing them or preventing the mother from coming back. They're prey animals, after all, and they generally don't like getting looked at by mysterious strangers...

Cute bunny!
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:57 PM on July 3, 2011

This exact thing happened to me last month. I gathered up as many of the survivors as I could (3) and put them in a cardboard box. We eventually found a place to let them go, as I didn't see the mother come back. I've regretted not knowing exactly what to do in that situation. Those little fluffballs were so cute I could hardly stand it.

One last thing: for the love of all that is right, do *not* let your 7-year-old see the lifeless corpse of a baby bunny. There was innocence lost that day.
posted by Wild_Eep at 5:15 PM on July 3, 2011

Just be so thankful that you didn't actually kill any of them with the mower. I'll never be able to forget the sound the time I did.
posted by MsMolly at 8:52 PM on July 3, 2011

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