From Hannah Kendrick
I want to share a small bit of information with all Crestonians that has the potential to save countless baby rabbits and birds.
Mother rabbits spend very little time in the nest with their babies. Mother rabbits visit their babies only a few times at night or early in the morning; even then, it is only for a short time to allow the babies to nurse.
More than likely you will never see a mother rabbit at her nest. For this reason, never assume a baby rabbit has been abandoned. Simply leave the babies alone, keep your pets away from the area and allow the rabbits to grow and leave. It takes only two weeks for newborn rabbits to begin to eat on their own and leave the nest periodically. If you do happen to find baby rabbits, return them to the nest or general area and leave them alone. The mother will be back to care for them. It is an old wives’ tale that the scent of a human or other animal will make the mother abandon her babies. Mother rabbits do not care how their babies smell and will continue to care for them, even if they were handled.
It is very difficult to hand raise wild rabbits. Less than 10 percent of orphaned rabbits will survive hand raising.
Cottontails become stressed easily when handled frequently by humans, and require much more specific care from parents than many other infant animals. Baby cottontails receive very specialized bacteria from not only the mother’s milk, but also her fecal droppings. These fecal droppings are something that can be hard to acquire.
Similar to baby rabbits, baby birds will not be abandoned by their parents if they are touched by humans or our pets. Sometimes baby birds try to fly just a day or two too soon and find themselves stuck on the ground. Do not fear – the parents, both mother and father for most species, will continue to care for their baby and do their best to protect it from predators, until it is able to fly and get off the ground.
In short, if you find baby rabbits or baby birds, they are not abandoned by the mother. If removed from their nest by a human or pet, the babies should be returned and left to be taken care of by their mother, who definitely knows best.