DebMark Rabbit Education Resource

Questions Submitted About Raising Rabbits

Raising Wild Rabbit Babies.

Question My husband stupidly brought home 2 young wild rabbits. Since we live in the city he was afraid to leave them and couldn't find a mother. My guess is that he just plain didn't see them and thought he was doing the right thing. Anyway, now what should we do with them: i.e., food, water, letting them go, etc. Is is possible to raise them and they be healthy? Any help you could give me would be much appreciated.

Thanks for any help in advance.

Answer Surprisingly, raising wild rabbits is about the same as raising domestic ones. Keep them in the house until they are about 4 weeks old so they will be warm enough. Put them in a 2 sq ft cardboard box that has very high sides. Put some hay in it that they can either hide under or lay on top of.

Judging their age is important. Rabbits eyes come open at about 10 or 11 days after birth. Hand feed them until they are 14 days old. They will start eating on their own - hay, carrots, and rabbit pellets around 14 days old. They should be released into the wild when they are 4-6 weeks old. Don't keep wild rabbits together after they are 2 months old - they will tear each other apart. Do not mix wild rabbits with domestic rabbits. You could spread parasites and diseases to your domestic rabbits.

If the bunnies you find are really young, you will have to force feed them with an eyedropper. I have fed them successfully on 2% cows milk without any losses. Some suggest baby formula. I was condemned by certain wild animal rescue groups for recommending the use of milk. They stated that rabbits are lactose intolerant and should be fed Pedialyte. Due to these groups' pressure, I changed my website to recommend Pedialyte. I have since received at least two emails from really sad people stating that Pedialyte killed the bunnies. I therefore now retract my recommendation of Pedialyte. I have had a 100% survival rate on just 2% cows milk. That should speak for itself.

I just received this email on 6/7/2010 from a wildlife rescuer:

My Name is Debra and I am a wild rabbit rehabilitator here in Canada. I have been rehabilitating wildlife for about 15 years including...rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, bby deer and even a Belgian draft I have read extensively for years about what to feed an orphaned animal from the wild and I have to say I have tried everything and my best success was using plain old cows milk.. I do scald it to remove the strong enzymes that the young cannot digest but thats what has worked the best and I endorse this constantly. I believe that is the best source of milk as it is made naturally by all mothers...and I dont think there is much difference between them all..I have too had some conflict front our Ministry of Natural resources but after getting regular updates and pictures of my many success stories they dont bother me. Actually it was a gal that i found on the internet in Texas that started me with the cows milk after I had lost a baby squirrel (using kitten milk replacer) and was desperately searching the internet for answers to save the second one...Then I found her and never looked back..
"Keep on doing what your doing!"...Good Luck
Debra from Canada

I now feel vindicated in my statement about cow's milk. You don't have to prepare much milk because they don't drink much.Bring the milk or baby formula to a lukewarm temperature (where it feels neither warm nor cold) and feed them as much as they will take in. Refrigerate any leftover prepared milk in order to avoid bacterial contamination. When they are born up to when they are up to 2 weeks old, they don't consume much - about 1 eyedropper full per feeding. You only have to feed them three or four times per day, but make sure they get enough or they will waste away.

When they start eating at about 2 weeks, they will eat alfalfa hay, carrots, and rabbit pellets. Don't feed them lettuce or cabbage.

Baby wild rabbits are like domestic rabbits - they will not bite you and are safe to raise. They are really jumpy, though, and will try to escape whenever they get a chance. Not many people have been successful in domesticating wild rabbits. If you handle them daily, they may become more familiar with people and settle down. Remember that they scare easily and can run fast. They may possibly get hurt trying to get away from a dog or cat you have. This fright is nature's way to keep them safe in the wild. Our domestic rabbits came from the common wild European rabbit, selecting for tameness.

Wildlife rescuers are usually glad to take baby rabbits off your hands and make sure they are cared for in the proper way until they are released into the wild again. To find out more, as well as to get more interesting facts about wild rabbits and other wild animals, visit the Wildlife Care Organization.


What do you do when you come across a disturbed nest in the wild?

Answer You need to ask yourself whether you want to go to all the trouble of raising up the bunnies for 4 weeks, only to let them go, to be possibly eaten by a hawk, snake, or canine. I, personally, will leave the nest alone and let nature take its course.
For More Information

For more interesting facts about wild rabbits and other wild animals, visit
The Wildlife Care Organization.

For more information on what to do when you find baby rabbits, visit
The House Rabbit Society.

Domestic rabbits have more value and will reward your time and efforts much more than taking care of wild rabbits.


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This page last updated on 7/7/07