OK, I don't normally post video links on Gather, but this particular video is so beautifully done and touched me so deeply that I can't resist sharing it with my animal rescue friends on Gather. This sums up why I continue to swim against the tide of human-induced wildlife deaths, why we do what we do despite the frequent heartache and difficulty of the task. This is why we are wildlife rehabbers.
The message here is right on target: If you find a cottontail nest and have no reason to believe that the mother rabbit has been killed, the right thing to do is to leave it alone!! Put the babies back, cover up the nest, and go away. Mama bunny does not spend most of her time at the nest because she does not want to draw predators to it (she only visits a couple of times a day to feed her babies) so you should not be alarmed by a nest without an adult present. If you are unsure whether the mother is caring for her bunnies you should arrange natural materials on top of the nest (i.e. twigs or pebbles) and check back 12 hours later to see if they have been moved. Most importantly, keep your dog and/or cat away from the nest! It only takes 2-3 weeks for the babies to leave on their own.
Be aware that mama bunny is far and away the most successful caregiver a baby bunny could have, and easily superior to human caretakers. People have no business kidnapping baby bunnies simply because they find them cute. The only circumstances under which bunnies should be removed from their nest is if they have either been directly attacked by a predator (in which case they need medical attention) or if their mother has been killed. In either case the bunnies *and* nest material should immediately be brought to a licensed wildlife rehabber (easily located online by googling the name of your state and the words "wildlife rehab"). The amazing individual rehabber who made this video had approximately a 70% success rate, which is phenomenal. The large rehab center where I volunteer has maybe a 50-60% success rate. Mama's success rate is probably closer to 90% so long as the nest is not disturbed by a predator. The diarrhea that the rehabber in the video refers to is brought on by formula feedings and the considerable stress of captivity, and is easily the biggest threat to the bunnies I care for. Bunnies have incredibly delicate digestive systems and it is impossible for humans to duplicate the diet that nature intended, yet is easily provided by their mother.
Â If we love wild things, the best gift we can give them is to let them be wild and live out the lives they are meant to live."Those who wish to pet and baby wildlife love them, but those who respect their natures and wish to let them live their natural lives, love them more."
~ Edwin Way Teale