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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
18 posts Send Private Message
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
88 posts Send Private Message
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
373 posts Send Private Message
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
18 posts Send Private Message
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
373 posts Send Private Message
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
14795 posts Send Private Message
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
14795 posts Send Private Message
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
18 posts Send Private Message
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
14795 posts Send Private Message
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
18 posts Send Private Message
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
3175 posts Send Private Message
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.
 photo 08990f11-285a-44a8-8afe-47ee405d6fd1_zps09e3c66f.jpg

User is Offline Elrohwen
Hudson Valley, NY
Forum Leader
7322 posts Send Private Message
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 Offline Sarita
(Dallas)
Forum Leader
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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
2006 posts Send Private Message
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
3391 posts Send Private Message
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!
 photo f7a948e4-51c5-4191-9c54-d543ef2be477_zps834141e2.png

User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
Forum Leader
15654 posts Send Private Message
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 Online LBJ10
Forum Leader
5759 posts Send Private Message
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
475 posts Send Private Message
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
18 posts Send Private Message
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
Forum Leader
8672 posts Send Private Message
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.

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