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Baby Cottontail Nests

Did you find a nest of baby cottontail bunnies with no mama in sight?

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Description: Cottontails typically scrape out a shallow "pocket" in the soil for their nest. After giving birth, the mom rabbit covers her babies with some of her own fur and often some vegetation, such as dried grasses. 

Location: The nest may be just about anywhere the mother can dig in the soil: in lawns, gardens, planters, under landscape shrubbery, on playgrounds, athletic fields, etc.

Maternal Care: To avoid attracting attention to her nest, the mother rabbit typically only visits the nest to feed her young at dawn and dusk. She will continue to nurse her young in the nest for about four weeks. By this time, the young bunnies will have already begun adventuring out of the nest to nibble nearby greenery. Surprisingly, the young rabbits become independent of their mother at about four to five weeks of age. At this time they are only four to five inches long.

Here are a few important tips to know:

  • Mother rabbits visit their babies only twice a day – typically around dawn and dusk – to avoid attracting unwanted attention from predators in the area. Most seemingly “abandoned” babies are actually being watched closely by mom from a distance.
  • If you find a rabbit’s nest in your yard and the babies are not injured, there’s a good chance they can stay there. No one can do a better job than mom, and there is no human-made formula that is nearly as good as what she provides. The only time a wildlife rehabilitator needs to get involved is if those babies are injured or truly orphaned (check out the link below for how to find out).
  • While you should do everything you can to avoid touching a bunny at all, much less with bare hands, a mother will *not* reject her babies because they have been touched by humans. If someone has already picked up a baby bunny and the baby appears healthy, please ask them to return the little one to the nest.

CLICK HERE to learn more about what to do if you find a rabbit’s nest, including how to keep your curious pups at bay.

Thanks for caring about wildlife and for helping to #KeepWildlifeWild