Rabbits are social, burrowing herbivores that are natural prey for a large number of carnivores. As a prey species they have evolved to be constantly vigilant, lightweight and fast-moving, with a highly efficient digestive system that enables them to spend the minimum time possible above ground and in danger of capture. For the same reason of not attracting predator attention, rabbit behaviour is not florid and overt and relies heavily on scent.
Life expectancy of the rabbit is 5-8 years, but some individuals live to 10 years or more.
If you find a nest of baby rabbits and the nest is intact and the babies uninjured, leave them alone. Mother rabbits only visit their young 2-3 times a day to avoid attracting predators.
If the rabbit nest has been disturbed, or if you think the babies are orphaned, recover the nest with surrounding natural materials such as grass and leaves. (Try not to touch the babies, as mother rabbits are very sensitive to foreign smells and may abandon their young.) Put an “X” of sticks or yarn over the nest to assess if the mother is returning to nurse her young. If the “X” is moved but the nest is still covered by the next day, the mother has returned to nurse the babies. If the “X” remains undisturbed for 24 hours, contact Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release, (530) 432-5522. Keep all pets out of the area, as they will surely find and kill the young rabbits. A rabbit who is four inches long with open eyes and erect ears is independent from his mother and able to fend for himself.
If you are transporting the animal to a wildlife rehabilitator, put the animal in a small, closed, ventilated box on a warm towel and keep it in a quiet area. Don't feed or handle the rabbit as it can die easily from stress.
Injured Adult Rabbits
If you find an injured or sick rabbit (bloody nose, shivering, attacked by cat or dog), place the animal in an escape proof, ventilated box lined with a towel or soft cloth. Wear gloves and wash your hands before and after handling the animal. Cover the container with a light sheet or towel and place it in a warm, dark, quiet place until you can get the animal to Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release, (530) 432-5522. If the animal is chilled, place a hot-water bottle wrapped in a towel in the container next to the animal. Note exactly where you found the animal. This will be important for its release back into the wild.