Sprinkle, Sparkle, Glitter, and Cupcake
Cottontail rabbit mothers visit their nest twice a day, at dusk and dawn.
The reason for only visiting the nest twice a day is to attract as little attention as possible to her precious babies; babies that are hiding in the shallow nest she dug and carefully lined with her own fur.
Mothers and Babies
Mother rabbits do not easily abandon a nest, their maternal instinct is strong.
Even if a dog has found the nest, if no baby rabbit is injured, you can return them to the nest and the mother will return to care for them. To test if she has returned, you can place several thin twigs or pieces of string in an asterisk (“*”) pattern over the nest and then wait 12 hours. If after 12 hours the pattern is disrupted, you know that the mother has returned and fed her babies. If the twig or string pattern is just as you left it, then it is possible the babies may be orphaned. If that is the case, we recommend that you call our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for further advice.
Caring for the Four Babies
In the case of Sprinkle, Sparkle, Glitter and Cupcake, these little “buns” were found weak and dehydrated, obviously not fed by their mother for several days.
After they were brought into the Wisconsin Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, they were given fluids several times to rehydrate them. Free from injuries, we slowly introduced them to syringe-fed specially made cottontail formula, which they were fed twice a day (just like mom would), until they began to nibble on the natural diet of wild greens we provided for them. In the wild, cottontails are weaned and on their own after about four weeks. They are still small at this stage, only 4 to 5 inches in length. They look like miniature adult rabbits, and they know to flee from predators. We also release our hand-raised orphans at this stage, when they are able to feed by themselves, and display typical skittish, wild-rabbit behavior. Sprinkle, Sparkle, Glitter and Cupcake are now back in the wild, no doubt enjoying munching on all the fresh clover and dandelions they can find!
Caring for Wild Animals
Although they may look adorable, caring for an orphaned wild animal without proper training is very difficult and without proper license, is illegal.
If you have found a baby wild animal, please contact our Wildlife Reception Desk at 414-431-6204 for assistance.