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We were given a baby bunny when it was only a couple days old. I nursed it back to health and now that I look at him I’m a hundred percent I was lied too and given a cottontail… problem is he grooms me and is super attached. We live in an area with dogs, cats, and coyotes. He grew up in my house so he doesn’t fear my cat or dogs. He’s not releasable at this point. I guess my question is who else has a cottontail and I’m aware they are illegal to have as pets without permits. He acts as any house bunny. I’m just looking for other people’s stories and experience if any? TIA
How old do you think he is now? Any piccies??
Im going to PM a member who had an American cottontail as a house rabbit. She may have some advice for you. It might be worthwhile contacting wildlife rehabbers in your area to see what they advise. They sometimes do releases at safe sites, but that depends on how long a kit has been in care. They can probably advise you about gaining a permit also. : )
I have many pictures. We think he’s about a month old now. I’m not sure how to put pictures since I am a new member haha.
I have many pictures! we think he’s about a month now. I’ve had him almost 4 weeks. I’m not sure how to post pictures? I would love to share some pictures with everyone.
This pictorial will hopefully help with posting pictures. We do have a rule about not posting photos of rabbits that are under 8 weeks of age though. I think in this case, if you are wanting opinions on if he is or isn’t a cottontail, some pictures would be allowed. : )
This is the best picture I have of him right now and it was about a week ago. I’m really not sure what kind of rabbit I was given at this point and would appreciate the help
I added the photo in for you. Once you upload the file, just click on “Insert Image icon next to the file name in the Attachment section.
FWIW, I don’t think it is a cottontail. It looks more like a domestic breed rabbit with the agouti pattern/colouring. Very sweet!
Did he have a small white blaze on top of his head when you first got him?
No he didn’t and that’s why I thought he was a domestic beed. Do they all have the white little patch on top of their head?
Here is a better picture of his coloring.
I do wanna add that I’m all about letting wild animals be wild animals. I took him in because I was told his mother died and the people were just going to throw him away. So I took him. I lost my old rabbit about a year ago so raised him like my other. Never thought there was a chance he could be wild.
Squeeeeee! That’s awesome that you rescued him. Despite the fact that I know absolutely nothing about breeds, I’m pretty sure we need a bunch more pictures . Do all cotton tails have cotton-looking tails? Do you have a pic of his tail? I bet it looks like a cute little q-tip!
I apologize if I’m not completely coherant but I’m currently fighting sleep deprivation and a sinus infection:
We had an eastern cottontail named Pete that lived with us after he lost his mama to a dog and nest to a mower. We nursed him best we could and when we finally got hold of a rehabber they agreed he wouldn’t make it on his own. This is not the case for many, but that’s why a rehabber is crucial to making the decision.
Baby cottontails are little balls of energy, and looking at your pictures I can’t for 100% say whether he’s a cotton or not. When they are tiny and in their fluffy stage it can be hard to tell unless their eyes are open and they are up and moving. North American cottontails, of any breed, tend to have slightly buggy-er eyes than domestics, if that makes sense. Not all babies have a blaze depending on what region they are from and what breed they are. They have very high metabolisms compared to domestics and if a rehabber agrees that they are better in a home then they must be kept free-roam.
My picture is of my little Pete when he was about 3.5-4 weeks old.
Could you possibly get some pictures of the baby alert? If I had to make a judgement based on your current pictures I’d say you either have a dwarf breed mix domestic or possibly a little marsh rabbit. Wild babies have long skinny legs, big bulging eyes (when the white is not showing) and perky little ears. Northern breeds have shorter ears than desert or eastern breeds.. but marsh rabbits have short ears, too.
Are you in the US? What region are you in?
Luna: Cottontails all have white and black flag type tails. Adorable and the same coloring as your standard agouti.
I do have some pictures of his back legs he’s a lot younger though. Let me log onto my computer so I can resize it. We live in Southern California so I know we natively have desert cottontails which he seems to resemble to me since I see them a lot but I’m no expert haha.
Was Pete’s behavior any different from a house rabbit? Or not really?
He does look a lot like a desert cottontail youngling. Front legs will be long and skinny compared to a domestic, but young ones like that can be pretty dang fluffy.
As for Pete, he was hyper and was a lot more active and awake than my domestic bunnies. He spent a lot of time running 500s, doing binkies, trying to find high ground, and sorting his toys. He would build nests in his hay piles and was picky about having multiple types of hay offered at once—one was not enough and his appetite would suffer for it. He ate more than my domestics, too. The salads, pellets and hay I went through for him alone are easily comparable to feeding our current foursome. He ate big salads twice a day, snacked, chewed sticks and blocks, chased and killed bugs, and played tag with out cat. He was a goofball, but he was drawn to predators and disliked the outdoors. He had stunted growth and some initial injuries from when he was little.. He was usually between 2 and 2.2lbs, but ate like he was 12lbs. He watched TV, tried to defend our home from the cable guy, and spent lazy days sunning himself on the floor. In a lot of ways he was like having a rehabilitated feral bunny. I don’t think he ever understood that he was wild, or that he wasn’t a cat. He litter trained quickly. He originally took dust baths in the box until one day he saw the cat use her box, then that was it. In some ways he was more domestic than domestic breeds, but he was very strong willed, independent, and spirited. He was also stand-off-ish at times, like a cat. You have to be willing to repspect their privacy and their space. Also, standard bunny proofing is not enough… he jumped and cleared light switches with a splint on his leg, and ran faster than my current buns. He was also clever. Never underestimate their problem solving or comprehensive skills.
Also, vets were hesitant to see him. On top of being exotic, he was not typical in breed. Wild animals, no matter how self-domesticated, should be respected as such. Having a wild baby is not for the feint of heart. Make sure you talk to your vet and local rehabbers. If he’s too domesticated they may advise you keep him and who will see him, but if he has enough instinct and strong enough willl and physique they may suggest a controlled release or preserve life.
Well, here’s my thoughts about this rabbit:… omg omg omg! Lol
@Cottontail, thank you so much for your input on this!! I wasn’t really aware of the differences you have in wild breeds there, from region to region. Good to know!
In some ways he was more domestic than domestic breeds, but he was very strong willed, independent, and spirited. He was also stand-off-ish at times, like a cat. You have to be willing to repspect their privacy and their space. Also, standard bunny proofing is not enough… he jumped and cleared light switches with a splint on his leg, and ran faster than my current buns. He was also clever. Never underestimate their problem solving or comprehensive skills.
Very much this! They can be quite the paradox, can’t they? Our “wild” rabbits here are actually classed as a feral pest and it’s illegal to release them! A friend of mine has a trio of wild rabbits she’s had since they were babies. They are super with their litter habits and pretty strong in routines. But are hardcore chewers, would burrow to China if given a chance, and yes, as you say, spirited and strong-willed. Ive had the pleasure of bun sitting them on occasion and could watch them for hours. : )
I have found myself a vet already thankfully just in case because when I started speculating I reached out to a local rehabber and she is unsure of he’s a domestic either so we are kind of playing a waiting game to see as he gets older. But she refered me to a vet. He acts a mix of feral and domestic. He loves his cuddles and is super active like you described. He loves running around and binkying, it’s adorable. He’s got a lot of personality and gets along great with my cat. What kind of toys did Pete like? Did he have any funny little quirks? I know my old house bunny did who I miss a lot.
The rehabbers thoughts are that the people might have bred a domestic with a desert cottontail and he’s the aftermath.
But I also red that this is impossible due to chromosomes?
Cottontail rabbits have 42 chromosomes and European rabbits (oryctolagus cuniculi) have 44 chromosomes, but that doesn’t in itself exclude the possibility of hybrids. Horses have 64 chromosomes and donkeys have 66, they can still produce mules and hinneys, but they hybrids are as a rule sterile due to chromosomes. So I don’t know about cottontails and domestic buns, I can’t find any record of such hybrids. Some researchers managed to fertilize rabbit eggs with sperm from hares in 1967, but it’s a very long way from fertilization of an egg to a viable kit and they didn’t take their experimenting further than to fertilization.
He’s a beautiful rabbit.
Thank you. I just wish we knew what he was exactly. Either way he’s loved and happy
Okay, whatever he is “SQUEE!!!!! Adorable!!!!!”.
I’m totally just guessing but he does have a wild bun look to him. So cute though. I hope you are able to keep him. Seems like you guys have bonded.
You are correct (at least from my research) about wild and domestic buns being unable to breed.
There has been no recorded instances of a successful crossbreed between any american cottontail and a domestic rabbit. So most likely he’s completely one or the other.
Sorry for disappearing but still battling illness in our household.
Pete loved apple sticks, timothy twists, cat jingly balls, and a great big red and green ball that was almost as big as he was–it had fabric stretched tight over it that he figured out how to pinch with his teeth to pick the ball up.. I think it made him feel macho, even if it did jingle. He was very particular about his sticks being in the proper order where he wanted them, and he would only eat his hay if he had an assortment. He LOVED dandelion heads and fresh grasses mixed with his salads and as hay toppers. He was also very expressive. Another thing was that he was also always under foot! He was my constant shadow, especially in the kitchen.
Cottontails are high energy and need constant mental stimulation. He would watch out the windows, play with things on the floor or couch, watch TV, watch people play video games, sneak into “out of bounds” areas when he thought no one was looking, and try to sneak catfood whenever he got the chance. He was also a bit of a klutz.. be prepared for unexpected vet bills for silly things like broken toes. Pete had to have a splint (5 actually because he was smart and stubborn) because he broke his toe trying to make a u-turn off an enclosure and deliberately bounced off it at full speed, but only landed one toe instead of his whole foot. It didn’t stop him from trying to run around, because they try to hide pain like any other bunny, but watch for changes in stance, eating, etc..
His nails were easy to deal with since he would let me do his front feet without picking him up, but his back feet I was lucky because he would trim them himself… I cannot guarantee that this is going to be the same for you, but you need to keep an eye on nails and hocks just like any bunny… and their nails seem to be sharper and thinner than my experience with domestics
Thank you so much for the input. He loves following me around my husband jokes that he’s worse then our cat (also a bottle baby). So now I have two shadows but he’s a funny little guy. He’s got a lot of spunk. He loves binkying on the carpet then doing 500s. He also enjoys, more like demands, his daily cuddles. We are gonna meet with a rehabber in a week and see his chances for release though breaks my heart to think about it. I want what’s best for him.