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Keeping baby bunnies safe: A few tips

Thursday, April 23rd 2020, 8:56 am - Found a bunny nest? Here's what to do.

Between March and September, cottontail rabbits are busy taking care of babies in nests commonly found in backyards, parks, and other urban locations.

The nests -- comprised of shallow depressions in the ground and covered with dry grass or fur -- will house rabbits until they're about three weeks old. At that point, they'll venture out on their own.

The nesting period can be a dangerous one, according to a recent Facebook post by the Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge in Jarvis, Ontario.

"Every year I hand raise about 400 or so baby cottontails," reads an excerpt from the post.

"The majority come to us because of interactions with cats and dogs."

If you have pets and find a rabbit nest on your property, there are a few ways you can keep them safe.

Here are some tips, courtesy of the refuge:

  • Place a basket over the nest during the daytime and remove it when your pets are inside for the evening. Replace the basket every morning. This allows for the babies to remain safe during the day, and fed at night by their mother.
  • Leash your pets and keep a close eye on them for the three weeks the babies are nesting.
  • DO NOT Relocate the nest. In most instances, the mother will not be able to find them and abandon the babies.

Pexels - two-brown-rabbits-949859 File photo: Pexels.

I'VE FOUND A NEST AND I THINK IT'S BEEN ABANDONED

If you're concerned about a nest, the Toronto Wildlife Centre recommends conducting a "string test."

Take a few pieces of yarn or light string and place them over the nest in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Take a photo.

Let the string sit overnight and check in the morning. If the string was moved, that means mom likely came back to feed the babies at night.

If the string is untouched, contact a wildlife rehabilitator.

VIDEO: CHECK OUT THIS ADORABLE BUNNY FAMILY

OTHER WAYS TO HELP

  • In most instances, it's best to leave a bunny nest alone. Contact a wildlife centre for advice if the bunnies appear to be sick, injured, or orphaned.
  • Experts say you shouldn't feed the bunnies but if you want to give them something to eat, keep your dandelions. Cottontails love them.
  • If you want to deter bunnies from nesting on your property, wait until the nest has left. Next year, use visual deterrents, like garden gnomes, beachballs, or large pinwheels. Motion-detecting sprinklers will also work.
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