Column: What to do when you find bunnies in your yardRabbits can be found anywhere, usually running around looking for food during the daytime. Yet, finding where they feed and care for their young can be difficult — mothers hide their nests carefully.
By: Joseph Labernik, For the Budgeteer News
Rabbits can be found anywhere, usually running around looking for food during the daytime. Yet, finding where they feed and care for their young can be difficult — mothers hide their nests carefully.
Recently, behind a group of homes on 20th Street in Cloquet, a few neighbors pointed out something peculiar they found in some untrimmed grass: a small hole in the ground, filled with bunnies.
Bunnies are left in a nest by their mother so they can be safe from predators. The mother feeds her bunnies by sitting on top of the nest while they nurse. If the mother stays too long at the nest, she may signal predators who need a meal. So, the mother conceals the den with twigs, grass, and even her own fur to make sure her bunnies are safe.
Sometimes this camouflage can abrade, and the den is left unconcealed.
This was the case for these curious neighbors in Cloquet, as the bunnies were left partially exposed to the elements and, even worse, hungry carnivores. Something had to be done for them, but what? How do you handle finding a nest of bunnies in your grass?
As the owner of the lawn did, after making sure the bunnies were not harmed, you should cover them back up and ensure they are concealed. When mowing grass, don’t mow near the area where the nest is. Keep your pets away as well, as pets can chase a mother away.
Any baby animal is safest with its mother, so check to see if the mother returns before doing anything else. If you don’t see a mother rabbit stopping to feed her young, place two twigs on top of the nest, in the shape of an X, and check the next day to see if they have been moved.
If they haven’t, uncover the nest and gently check the temperature of the bunnies. If they are warm, repeat the same process, and check the nest the next day for a sign of the mother.
If they are cold and unresponsive, something is wrong, and they need help.
If you find bunnies in this condition or, worse, injured, gently place the bunnies in a dark, warm box (a shoe box works well) with ventilation holes in the top. You can always warm the box with a heating pad underneath it, or by putting a towel in the microwave for about twenty seconds and placing it inside of the box.
Do not pet or feed the bunnies: call a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible for the best chance of bunny survival in this situation. At this point, they need professional help, so make sure they receive it.
A bunny nest can be hard to find — they are meant to be hidden from everyone, except their mother.
If you stumble across a nest full of bunnies, stop and analyze the situation, and call a rehabber if you need help. Do the simple things to keep bunnies hidden and safe — use some simple materials from your lawn, such as grass and twigs to cover up that nest.
Don’t assume you can become their mother. Leave the real expert, their mom, with her offspring to help a bunny’s chance of survival.
With an active mother and a concealed home, bunnies can develop safely and naturally, even if it’s in your backyard.
For more information on wildlife and how you can help, please visit our website: www.wildwoodsrehab.org, or call 218-491-3604.
Joseph Labernik is studying English and Professional Writing at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Currently, he is an intern for Wildwoods, an animal rehabilitation group based in Duluth.