Mother rabbits do not abandon their babies under normal circumstances.  She only feeds her babies once or twice during a 24-hour period, usually between dusk and dawn.  You may never see her return to the nest.  If the babies’ eyes are still closed, they are under 10 days old.  If they look plump and are nestled snuggly next to each other, and do not appear to be in any immediate danger, leave them alone!  You can check to see if the mother is coming back to the nest by checking the babies’ bellies, first thing in the morning.  They should be round, full, and fat.

Keep your dogs and cats away from the area and the baby cottontails will be ready to leave the nest in 3-4 weeks of age.

If the nest has been disturbed, even by the lawnmower, just put all the babies and the bedding back in place. The mother will not mind at all.

If you find a small rabbit hopping around that appears to be too young to be on its own, remember that if it is as big as a tennis ball and can run away from you-it does not need your help.

If you determine that the babies are injured or in need of assistance:

Place them in a small box lined with soft rags. Baby cottontails are incredibly fragile and do not take handling by humans well. They will die of stress if handled improperly.

Place the box in a warm place away from children, household noise, domestic pets, and bright lights. It may be helpful to place a heating pad on LOW under HALF of its box or carrier.

Do not attempt to feed any type of formula to a baby rabbit! They have very sensitive digestive systems and can rapidly develop diarrhea and die.

Contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator: