Thursday, July 25, 2024

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What to do if you find a rabbit nest in your backyard on Vancouver Island

If you feel like rabbits are popping up everywhere on Vancouver Island, you’re not imagining it.

Rabbit mating season typically spans from March to September, making it common to find nests of baby bunnies during this period. Eastern cottontail rabbits, in particular, nest in shallow depressions on the ground, covered with a mix of fur and dry grass.

Before mowing or weed whacking your lawn, it’s important to do a thorough walk-through of the area to ensure there are no nests or baby bunnies hidden in the grass.

Mother rabbits often leave their babies alone for most of the day while they forage for food. They only return a couple of times a day to feed their young, minimizing the risk of attracting predators to the nest.

Should I move a nest of baby rabbits

If you find a disturbed nest of baby rabbits, check on the little ones.

Unless the baby rabbits are visibly injured (such as bleeding or having nonfunctioning limbs) or showing signs of obvious distress, it’s best not to touch or relocate them.

Instead, gently cover the nest and leave the babies undisturbed.

How to keep the rabbits safe

It might surprise people to find a rabbit constructing a nest for her babies in the middle of a yard, but it’s actually quite clever. Since most predators tend to avoid open spaces, it’s a relatively safe location.

To help further protect the nest of baby rabbits during the day, place a basket over it each morning and remove it when your pets are inside for the evening. This keeps the babies safe throughout the day while allowing their mother to return and feed them at night.

Experts highly recommend not relocating the nests, as it could prevent the mother from finding it afterward.

These babies won’t stay in the nest for long; within three weeks, they’ll emerge to start their adult lives.

Once they are fully furred and hopping about on their own, the babies are fine.

The BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC) advises that if you’re concerned a nest of baby cottontails is orphaned or abandoned, you can perform a string test to determine if the mother is returning to care for and check on her babies.

To conduct a string test, place a few pieces of string across the nest and wait for about 12 hours. If the strings are disturbed, it’s likely that the mother has returned to feed and care for her babies.

If the strings remain undisturbed, there’s a possibility that the mother has not returned.

If you come across a nest of bunnies in an unsuitable location or if they appear injured, contact Wild ARC before taking any action at 250-478-9453.

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