BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > Caring for Wild Rabbits?
Last Post by Kokaneeandkahlua at 10/03/2012 5:05 PM (33 Replies)
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User is Offline Gordon
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9/28/2012 5:19 PM

We recently got a baby rabbit (just over 1 month old) from a coworker/friend of ours who rehabilitated the young bunny and handed it over to us after it was capable of eating solid food. We have very little information on him, and are unsure what kind of breed he may be. Our suspicion is that he is a wild rabbit and that this fact might make domesticating him as a pet difficult.

What is the difference between caring for a wild rabbit (that has been rehabilitated) and a domestic rabbit? Will I have a difficult time training and bonding with my baby rabbit? 

He jumps/runs if I try to pick him up but will sit calmly and let me hold him and pet him once I have him. I am pretty sure he likes being pet, he sometimes closes his eyes when I rub his cheeks. I will attach a photo, same as in my avatar. Any information or feedback is a great help


User is Offline Memarie
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9/28/2012 7:05 PM
My bunny does the same thing - run away if I try to pick her up but let's me pet her once I have her. That's normal. Unlike what you see on tv, a lot of bunnies don't like to be picked up and carried. Have you taken Gordon to your vet yet? That's one of the first things I do when I bring a new animal home. They will be able to help you out as long as you find a rabbit savvy vet (it may take some calling around).

As for raising wild rabbits, my grandma used to have one. She adopted Higgins as an adult from someone who had rescued/raised the litter (or something like that, the details are fuzzy since it was like 30 yrs ago). She said she was the best pet he ever had. He came when called, was litter trained, and loved to snuggle on her lap when she sat on the couch. It was in part hearing her stories about Higgins that made me first consider getting a bunny.


User is Offline emkvet
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9/28/2012 7:43 PM
It may actually be illegal for you to keep a wild rabbit. And it is a WILD animal; that is where it belongs. I would absolutely not try to keep it, and would release it back where it was found. Since it is able to eat solid food on its own, it is now old enough to be released. Also, keep in mind that wild bunnies can pass along internal and external parasites to other pets.

I know it is tempting to keep such a cute little thing, and I know you're attached to it. I am glad that someone rehabilitated it while it was newly born and helpless. However, it is still a wild animal, and since it is perfectly healthy, it needs to go back to the wild.

I work with the Exotics and Wildlife veterinarian at my veterinary school, and we rehabilitate all kinds of wildlife. They are ALWAYS released when they are old enough to be on their own, unless they have debilitating injuries. Please do this little guy a favor, and release him back where he belongs. He'll do just fine - I know he seems young, but once baby wild rabbits are heavier than 90 grams and eating on their own (no milk), they are perfectly able of surviving on their own.

I hope this helps you!

User is Offline Gordon
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9/28/2012 7:55 PM

I understand the concern over wild rabbits. Are you so sure Gordon is one? The woman I got it from rescued/adopted it from an animal shelter. I assumed that a shelter would not give out wild rabbits if they were not meant to be owned. Either way, I would like to take him to a bunny vet to learn more about him and an appropriate course of action, as well as possible rehabilitation. 

What is it about wild rabbits that makes them unsuitable for companionship, anyways?

Thank you for your time and answers.


User is Offline emkvet
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9/28/2012 8:21 PM
That is strange that they had it at an animal shelter. You can usually tell Cottontails (wild rabbits) from domestic bunnies because the babies have a white spot on their forehead, and a longer face. I think it would be a good idea to take him to a rabbit vet; they can definitely help you out and figure out what to do.

It isn't that a wild bunny couldn't be a good pet; I am sure that there have been wild bunnies that have made ok pets. But since wild bunnies haven't been domesticated and are not used to human contact, they truly do better in their natural environment.

User is Offline jerseygirl
Australia
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9/28/2012 8:46 PM
It my understanding the cottontails you have there only have that white mark while young but it disappears?
Some domestics can have the wild colouring (chestnut agouti) and white markings.

I would contact a wild life rehabber in your area for more advice.
They would do released but also know when it's too late to release as well.

Goodluck!

User is Offline jerseygirl
Australia
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9/28/2012 8:47 PM
p.s. Are you in the US?
The species of wild rabbit varies depending on what part of the world you're in.

User is Offline Gordon
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9/28/2012 9:07 PM
Yes I am in the US, in Texas. Plenty of cotton tails around here so it wouldn't come as a surprise. I plan on visiting a sanctuary/rehab soon to see what can be done with him.

User is Offline jerseygirl
Australia
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9/28/2012 9:43 PM
He certainly has look of a cottontail atm.

I'd already be seriously attached! Very cute little thing. You might be in luck yet and they identify him as a domestic.

User is Offline Gordon
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9/28/2012 9:53 PM
Yes, he is such an adorable thing and he behaves well enough for a young boy, though I suppose that could change. I would be delighted to keep him but we will have to see what happens.. Either way, I wish the best for little Gordon!

User is Offline Roberta
Wanneroo, Western Australia
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9/28/2012 11:34 PM
I only have one concern with releasing into the wild. If he has become use to domestication and was to be released near another territorial warren he could end up in fights. I know, that's life in the wild but I don't think I would be willing to risk that with an animal I had nurtured. Possibly why I would make a lousy wildlife carer. My buns hate being picked up, even as bubs that just tolerated it but they love nose rubs and ear scratches.
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User is Offline Elrohwen
Hudson Valley, NY
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9/29/2012 3:23 AM
I do know of someone on another rabbit forum who has a pet cottontail. The bun was unable to be released into the wild so she had to keep it. It is, typically, illegal to keep them, so getting vet care can be difficult - you need to find a vet who will overlook that. Her bun does make a fairly good pet. Much more skittish than a domestic bun, but overall it has adapted to living in a home.

I would definitely recommend finding a wildlife rehabber (I'm not sure a regular vet would be able to reliably tell a wild from a domestic, just because they don't see any wild rabbits in practice). If it can be returned to the wild, then I think that's by far the best solution. If the rehabbers agree that it must remain a pet at this point, I think you can probably make it work, but it will be more difficult than having a domestic rabbit.
- Elrohwen

User is Online Sarita
(Dallas)
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9/29/2012 3:29 AM
Just from looking at him, he looks like a cottontail to me. He has that distinct mark on his forehead of a baby cottontail. I used to help a lady who was a wildlife rehabber (in Texas) - I would suggest you contact a rehabber and have them help you identify this little guy and if he is a cottontail, he needs to be rehabbed.

I would not release him on my own either - there are certain areas and certain circumstances you must know to properly release cottontails to ensure they have the best chance of survival.

User is Offline Sam and Lady's Human
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9/29/2012 3:37 AM
Posted By Sarita on 09/29/2012 06:29 AM
Just from looking at him, he looks like a cottontail to me. He has that distinct mark on his forehead of a baby cottontail. I used to help a lady who was a wildlife rehabber (in Texas) - I would suggest you contact a rehabber and have them help you identify this little guy and if he is a cottontail, he needs to be rehabbed.

I would not release him on my own either - there are certain areas and certain circumstances you must know to properly release cottontails to ensure they have the best chance of survival.

Very much this. They also tend to not do so so well in captivity, unfortunately.

User is Offline tanlover14
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9/29/2012 10:01 AM
As attached as you may be to the little guy -- if a rehabber thinks the best thing to do is to have him released in the wild you definitely should AND THEN look at giving another little bunny another chance at a good life. If you're willing to come on BB to find out what is the right course of action and are willing to sacrifice your happiness (in releasing him back if thats what needs to be done) then I think you'd make an excellent bunny parent to a bun that really needs a home!

Good luck in your research and definitely keep all of us up-to-date on what happens!
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User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
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9/29/2012 12:19 PM
I agree that from the picture he looks to be a cottontail. I would also suggest contacting a rehabber and allow them to assist in his safe release.

If you're considering a rabbit companion, there are so many fantastic rabbits available for adoption.
Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline LBJ10
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9/29/2012 2:28 PM
Aww, what a cute bunny! I am curious about this. You say he originally came from a shelter? If so, you would think someone would have identified him as a domestic rabbit. Very odd. Are you sure your friend is telling the truth? I hate to say they lied to you, but perhaps they were embarrassed and made up a story.

User is Offline luvmyhunybuny
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9/29/2012 2:41 PM
That is definitely a cottontail. I have rehabbed many. Please get with a licensed rehabber and have them release it. The reason why it sits still once you catch him is because he is frightened. He is not enjoying being handled. The have such strong wild instints that it is almost impossible to imprint to the point it will act like a domesticated rabbit. He will always be afraid of you. A lot of times they will die from being help captive (from the stress).

User is Offline Gordon
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9/29/2012 6:01 PM
We have already contacted a rehabber for Gordon, and consulted them on the matter. We are also considering adopting one of the domestic rabbits they offer; we still want some bunny love. We should hear back by tomorrow, or Monday if they don't respond on Sundays. We want to get him where he can adapt as soon as possible. I don't know what the deal is with our coworker/the shelter, but we also got a sizable cage and a carrier out of the deal.

Thank you all for the input!

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
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9/29/2012 6:34 PM
What a goofy experience from a shelter -- to adopt out a wild bunny. Probably someone saw a baby wild bunny, thought it was domestic and turned it into the shelter and then after that no one paid much attention. Might be a good idea to let them know what happened so they can prevent that from happening again. They should have turned it over to a wildlife rehabber-- Many shelters have plenty of rehabber contacts just because they will get all kinds of calls about baby birds, and baby bunnies, squirrels etc.

What advice did the rehabber end up giving? I think in some rare cases, a permit can be given, for an animal that cannot be released, but I have no idea how that works. The rehabbers would know. I know it will be hard to let little Gordon go out into the big bad wild world, but he hasn't had 200 years of domestication via breeding, and his instincts should kick in since he is still rather young. Cottontails are quick and lean and so he's well suited for nature.

You are very caring and conscientious, and I suspect a domestic bunny would be very lucky to have you as his/her human. So check out the Bunny Info on this site and check out www.rabbit.org and find out all that goes into having bunny so that when you adopt, you will be well-prepared. And then make sure to come back here and let us know if and when you get a bunny.

And of course, please keep us updated on Gordon too. We can all wish you and him luck in setting him free.


User is Offline Mimzy
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9/30/2012 9:36 AM
This is always such a hard decision, But it really is for the best if he is a wild bunny.

I rescued a wild baby duck that was nowhere near any other ducks. I got attached immediately but the rescue I took him to informed me of everything they're going to do & how they rehabilitate. They take baby steps with them & keep moving forward if the baby is doing well. So I'm sure you can also inquire about his rehab & find out how they do it. I found it put my mind at ease.

Best of luck to you & little Gordon!
 photo KenMimSig_zps025abf4b.jpg Bunmom since June 4, 2012<3

User is Offline Gordon
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10/01/2012 9:07 AM
I still have Gordon right now, the first rehabber I contacted has not responded past my initial email. They are "Wild Rescue Inc., Texas"

They asked for a picture so they could try to identify him and then would give me further direction. I sent the picture but there has been no reply. In the meanwhile, I also submit an application to NTRS for a bunny adoption, explaining the situation to them as well.

Gordon is healthy, eats and poops like a horse, and doesn't appear to be particularly fond of domestication... I believe the next step is to release him in a hospitable environment, but I was looking to consult with somebody before that, so that I wouldn't simply be sending him into his doom.

User is Offline Gordon
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10/01/2012 1:07 PM

Sorry for the double post - 

I talked to a rehabber recommended by a user from this forum and we concluded together that Gordon was as healthy and ready as a baby bunny could be for release. So I have released him in an appropriate area nearby where he will have plenty of cover and food, and even be with other rabbits. It just rained here in Texas so the environment is extra hospitable at the moment. I was going to snap a goodbye photo, but Gordon bounded off so quick I couldn't even capture a shot! 

Good luck Gordon


User is Offline tanlover14
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10/01/2012 1:41 PM
So happy for your baby bun! You did the right thing for him! Hope you find a new bun soon!

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User is Offline Mimzy
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10/01/2012 3:11 PM
Awe! Good luck Gordon!
 photo KenMimSig_zps025abf4b.jpg Bunmom since June 4, 2012<3

User is Offline Skipper's Mama
Florida
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10/01/2012 3:19 PM
Awe good luck Gordon! You did the best thing that you could. I know it's so hard to let them go.

User is Offline Gordon
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10/01/2012 5:22 PM
I thought it would be hard, but I was happy to return him to nature. I can tell he will be happier. When I let him go he ran in a big circle, jumped through a little chain link fence (I hadn't intended that), and straight into the brush. Lost track of him absolutely instantly, hahaha.

We are looking into adopting a new bunny to care for with NTRS. I can't wait to introduce whoever it is.

User is Offline Memarie
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10/01/2012 6:24 PM
I'm really glad to hear that it all worked out! I wish Gordon all the best in the wild, and I wish you all the best in your search for a bunny. It sounds like you will be a wonderful bunny caregiver. I can't wait to meet him/her =)

User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
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10/02/2012 1:33 AM
I also wish Gordon the best. Good luck in your adoption adventure.
Proud to be a Bunny Hugger and a voice for the voiceless
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User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
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10/02/2012 2:29 AM
Thank you so much for taking him in and providing him some love and a kind environment! It's not an easy thing to let him go, but he is where he belongs... and now you have room for an amazing domestic rabbit. I can tell you'll be a great bunny parent! And Gordon will always have a special spot in your heart.

Happy travels, Gordon!
Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline Gordon
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10/02/2012 4:11 AM
I am so happy everybody is happy for Gordon I hope he is doing well. I can't wait to get everything set up and take in my new bun friend('s)!

User is Offline tanlover14
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10/02/2012 2:01 PM
Bun Friend(s)? I like the sounds of that s! Good luck with your bun bun searching!
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User is Offline Gordon
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10/03/2012 6:53 AM
Haha, well I don't want to say anything for sure until we actually get them... but we are looking into a beautiful bonded pair

User is Offline Kokaneeandkahlua
Edmonton, Alberta; Canada
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10/03/2012 5:05 PM
Awwww I'm glad he's off where he belongs. What a neat experience! Good luck looking into adoption-can't wait to hear of your new addition
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