Wild in the Streets
Help I found a wild bunny!
Wild bunnies may look like they need our help but often do not. Before you rush to the rescue, consider that you may be “kidnapping” with the best of intentions.
Young bunnies begin to leave the nest at 2-3 weeks when they are 4”-5” long. They start nibbling natural foods as they explore. By 3-4 weeks of age, when they are 5”-7” long, they are weaned. By 5 weeks of age they are independent. Instinctually, rabbits freeze in place once they detect a predator (you). Unless you can see an injury or see that the bunny doesn’t move as it should, it is probably fine.
If your cat or dog brings you a bunny, it probably needs rescue. Bunnies will fight to avoid capture using claws, leaps and darting changes of direction. The struggle may cause tiny skin punctures, crushing injuries or nerve damage. The bunny may be exhausted and terrified.
If you find a nest with babies leave them alone. Their nest is shallow, fur and grass lined depression in the earth or sometimes pots and planters. Grass and leaves may cover the nest. Wild bunnies do not burrow like domestic bunnies.
In order not to draw predators, wild mothers don’t spend time at the nest. The mother visits the nest twice a day, often at dawn and dusk. She nurses quickly, grooms the babies and leaves. The babies do not need their mother to keep themselves warm.
Re-cover the nest with grass and leaves. Leave a tic-tac-toe pattern of light twigs or string on top. The mother will still feed the babies if she smells our scent. The next day you can tell if the pattern was disturbed by the mother. If the pattern is undisturbed for 12-24 hours, the babies need rescue.
Remember “Warm, Dark and Quiet” if a bunny or wild critter needs rescue. Line a box with soft, warm materials, add the bunny and a secure lid. Place in the quietest part of the house. No peeking by friends or family. Don’t give food or water. The bunny might inhale the water which adds stress.
Please contact a licensed rehabilitation organization right away. The bunny will be cared for and nurtured until it can be returned to the wild.
In Santa Barbara and Goleta:
Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network
1460 N. Fairview Avenue, Santa Barbara
Rescue Hotline: (805) 681-1080
In the Santa Ynez Valley:
Animal Rescue Team
Rescue Hotline: (805) 896-1859