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Wild rabbit murderer here... or am I? Prompt answer please!

 
Fred Neecha
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I foolishly put a black plastic bag over a nest to keep the babies warm during this late season-frost. I didn't think about how the bag would affect the temperature of the soil underneath it... just thought about keeping out the cold from above. They are probably 2-3 weeks old. I've checked on them everyday since and they've been fine. But I left the bag over the nest because it got really cold last night too. They were fine last night. Today, they are cold and stiff.

However I'm reading about rabbits being able to go into some form of hibernation when they're body temperatures get too low. What do you think? Should I try and rehabilitate them or just leave them in the sun? Please respond quickly if you have some advice!!

Thank you. And I'm sorry for the bad news... and my foolishness. I was trying to help. :/
 
David Livingston
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I am a little confused by your question as wild rabbits live in burrows where I live.
So where do you live ?

David
 
Judith Browning
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I don't think you are anything but overly concerned over some wild critters....Are they motherless? I think the best thing is to leave them alone and let whatever happens happen but I am comfortable with that and you may not be. Are they cold and stiff as in dead? I think this is a case of 'survival of the fittest' ...and now that you've intervened maybe you are feeling responsible I would stop putting the black plastic on in any case.

...have the children seen them? that might make it harder to walk away. When our kids were young we were always nursing something back to life in the house, usually without success.
 
Fred Neecha
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I'm in GA, USA.

I don't think they're motherless. I pulled them out and tried to warm them up. Their stiffness went away but they haven't moved. I reckon they really are dead.

Like I said, they were fine last night. It got down to 38 during the night last night/this morning though. I fear the plastic bag I put over them to keep the frost off also kept the ground underneath it from being warmed by the sun. :/

There were three of them. Do rabbits breed throughout the year? I'd hate for momma bunny to have to wait till this winter to do it all over again. I feel do bad! Live and learn, I guess...
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Connor,

Rabbits are often already bred again by the time their current litter is about 6 weeks old. So your concern about the mom having to wait for more babies is nothing to worry about. She'll likely have three or more litters this year at least.
The best thing to do is just leave wild rabbits to their own devices. A mother rabbit usually only visits a nest at one or two times per day. Usually it is at night and usually it's only for five or so minutes. It's just enough time for them to nurse the babies and then they get out of the nest. They try to stay away from the nest to avoid luring predators to it. Also rabbits are super hardy creatures when it comes to being cold. I've had day old kits survive nights of -35F. They feed on super high octane milk and they create a lot of heat for each other so as long as the nest is somewhat well made and out of the wind, the bunnies will be just fine.

If I were to guess I would say that the covering up either created a barrier to the mother or it scared her off. Mother rabbits will abandon a nest if it's too risky for them to return to. It's also possible that the plastic prevented the nest from being well ventilated. If that's the case they could have over heated, suffocated or died from ammonia buildup. Ventilation in a nest is important because it keeps moisture from building up and decomposing the nesting material which is being urinated and defecated on. When that material stays wet it creates ammonia which will kill the babies. As long as the mother is out there, she's probably already working on a new litter. She won't likely want to build a nest in that same area but if you do happen upon it, it's best to let her run the show.

Best wishes

 
Shane Gorter
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Location: Everson, WA
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I want to second what Craig said from my experience if you try and interfere with wild animals you will cause more problems than good. The mother doe will pull a bunch of fur from around her teats and build a nest that if you stick your hand into during freezing temperatures will be very toasty. I have had rabbits get pulled out of the nest boxes clinging to a teat and have been able to revive them by holding them under a heat lamp until they loosen up. Honestly the only thing I can think of that you could do to assist your wild rabbits would be to kill off or prevent the predators from gaining access to their area, anything else you will likely do more harm than good.
 
Fred Neecha
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The baby bunnies were buried and given a Popsicle stick gravestone - "RIP Bunnies".

I hope that the momma bunny does return to the same garden space this winter. It's a good spot because it's fenced in and predators cannot get in.

I referenced this whole experience recently in a philosophy forum... Learned my lesson!
 
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