Wild or Domestic Rabbit

by Joshua Paulson
Wild or Domestic Rabbit Image

What do you do if a rabbit has found refuge in your garden?

What are your options if you notice a rabbit hanging around your garden or yard? Maybe it looks domestic, and maybe it's wild. Here's what we found is helpful.

We asked our community of rabbit and animal lovers online this question asking for advice,

"There's a sweet little rabbit in my yard every evening, just sits under a shrub and doesn't run when I get pretty close.
Have been providing water and critter food meant for squirrels and rabbits.
What can I do to create a safe place for him/her to be when its raining, snowing, etc.
Not sure if it's a wild rabbit or not because the ears are not as long as some other wild rabbits I've seen. Wondering if someone abandoned it."

How to care for wild rabbits.

Simple, you don't.

If the rabbit is wild you don't have to worry about it. Don't feed it anything because they get most of their water intake from their forage which is grass, roots, weeds and the tender ends of shrubs that they can reach.

There are several different species of wild rabbits but most are called "cottontail" rabbits. Cottontails like to live around the edges of open areas. In fact, they are rarely found in dense forests or open grassland.

Because they live near the edges this means they love the suburbs with yards, parks, playgrounds, and even office parks, and have lots of edges between small areas of different habitats.

Do you need to help that rabbit?

According to the Humane Society, "mothers feed baby rabbits only twice a day—at dawn and dusk. Baby rabbits found alone in a nest are usually not orphans.

If a nest has been disturbed, put it back together and cover the babies with the grass that originally covered them. To check if the mother is coming to care for them, place several lengths of yarn (small branches work, too) in a grid pattern over the nest. If the grid is disturbed after the next dawn or dusk, the mother is still caring for the youngsters.

Baby rabbits leave the nest when they're 3 weeks old and about the size of a chipmunk. If you find a chipmunk-sized but fully-furred rabbit with eyes open, ears erect, and the ability to hop, they are meant to be on their own. As small and helpless as they may look, they are not an orphan and does not need your help."

Sometimes they [rabbits] stay near homes so predators don’t get them. If it is domesticated and looks not to be doing great ask a rehaber around your area. We have a family of possums that we have a huge pile of logs and a roof in our woods so they can have multiple places to go in and out of. We leave food for them often too. And then been there for years .🙂

— Rabbit Lover

What if the rabbit looks domestic?

If you need to catch one of these rabbits and bring it to a rehab facility near you, we provide carriers that are safe for the animal.

According to the Humane Society, "it's also not uncommon for people to abandon pet rabbits outdoors, and domestic rabbits do need help. Domestic rabbits look a bit different from wild rabbits. Most wild rabbits in The United States are cottontails, who are brown with white tails. Domestic rabbits vary in size from 2 lbs. to over 20 lbs. (though most will be around 5 lbs.). They have ears that stand up, hang down, or are stuck in the middle. And, most notably, their coats come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, from pure albino white to jet black, with plenty of browns and grays in between; their patterns may be striped, spotted, or more unusual."

Sometimes cats and dogs that are outside a lot are a major issue with outdoor rabbits. If your animal or another animal in the are gets a hold of a rabbit, a licensed wildlife rehabilitation professional or veterinarian should check out the rabbit ASAP. Separate the dog or cat from the rabbit immediately, too, due to the animal remembering where the rabbit nests and can put the remaining rabbits at risk.


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Author: Joshua Paulson and Quality Cage Team
Josh is the owner and CEO at Quality Cage Crafters since 2015. During his time at Quality Cage Crafters he has been able to learn from tens of thousands of pet owners and pet educators. He blends his ambition for manufacturing and passion for animal care to create solutions for pet owners, breeders, animal rescues, and zoos. He has brought together a team of great animal lovers to create high quality pet care content for the Quality Cage Crafters audience.

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