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How I Cared for Baby Cottontails

UPDATE: The intention of this video is to encourage others to not make the mistakes I made, like moving the nest, wrong formula, building a hutch too late. This is my one-time experience, so if you want detailed instructions on how to take care of orphan cottontails, use this informative website as your primary source:

There have been some negative comments on this video, so my responses to those will be below.

Frequently Made Comments:
1) You shouldn’t have moved the nest.

I mentioned multiple times in the video that this was a mistake and encouraged the viewer to not do the same. When I had moved it, we had a vegetable garden that was 2 weeks old, and my dog had just killed one of the babies (that baby died in my hands as I tried to clean the blood from it in the sink). It was traumatic. My first instinct was to protect the rest by putting them in a safer enclosure (basically, a similar container but with a lid) and to hopefully encourage the mother to take her young to where she was living, which I think was under the concrete patio. From my time-lapse footage, I saw that she only tried searching for them after about a minute and didn’t make any attempts to look for them after that. I had to step in when I found them dehydrated. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have moved the nest.

2) You should’ve put the babies back when you saw the mother wasn’t coming back.

They were dehydrated (hip bones sticking out) and I knew if I put them back, they could die waiting to be nursed. It was stressful, because I was very worried that they would die very soon without any liquids. So that morning, I quickly did research (looked for wildlife rehabers which were too far away and learned about how to care for them). I wanted them to survive, so me feeding them was the best option. I dropped all my plans and tried to get them liquids as fast as I can (which included running around the pet store for everything I needed).

3) Your scent drove the mother away.

From my research, that doesn’t matter much; moving the nest matters though. Our human scents and the dog’s scent was actually all over that vegetable garden and that patio, but that rabbit still made her nest there.

4) You should’ve kept the rabbits. They don’t know how to survive in the wild.

Rabbits are wild animals with instincts; they do not depend on the mother to teach them certain skills. From my research, it’s perfectly acceptable to release them after they’ve been weaned off of formula and by a certain age. I made sure to monitor them for 3 days after weaning to see if they were able to feed on their own, in which they did and had been even when I was still feeding them formula. We actually moved that hutch several times so they could eat fresh grass.

5) You stole those babies from the mother just so you could make a video about it.

If you knew how time-consuming (6 hours total to feed each day) and expensive it is to take care of cottontails, then you would know that is simply untrue. I did what I did because I simply didn’t want them to die. I made this video because there were no videos that really shows the process from beginning to end, what to expect, and I wanted to encourage others to not make my mistakes.

I am not an expert on rescuing cottontails. This video is my one-time experience with cottontail babies and is meant to be more of a supplement, rather than a definitive guide. Please refer to the website I provided for how to take care of orphan cottontails if you must do it and be sure to read it from beginning to end!

Most of the materials (and images) are from Petco. I was able to buy Kitten Milk Replacement, VIta-drops, Bene-Bac, and the medicine dropper there.

The tip I used to modify the medicine dropper (Doctor Easy Ear Washer Disposable Tips) can be found here:

Webpage Screenshots

Cecotrope Image:

Videos at the End:
Killdeer Fakes Injury to Defend Nest

Lorikeet Lovemaking

DIY: Self-watering Container Garden

Shasta Cabin 2011

“Bittersweet” by Silent Partner (downloaded from YouTube’s Audio Library)