Rabbits and Hares
Hares and Rabbits are two entirely different species. A Jackrabbit is a Hare while a Cottontail or brush rabbit are truly rabbits.
Jackrabbits are born at about 80 grams, with their eyes open, fully furred and able to move and hop around their nest. Cottontails are born at about 30 grams with their eyes closed (they open at 7-10 days old), completely naked and dependent on their mother.
- Cottontails build a nest, which is a shallow depression in the ground, usually next to a building, under a woodpile or even a burrow underground, and have all their “kits” (baby rabbits) in that nest. Whereas, Jackrabbits may have four “leverets” (baby jackrabbits), usually in an open field or grassy area. The mother may put one baby in one area, two somewhere else and another in a third spot. This way, predators won’t get the whole litter and all will be in range for her to care for them.
If your cat brings you a cottontail kit, it’s likely it’s found the nest and will be back with more, one at a time. Please, don’t punish your cat for bringing you the kit or your cat will stop bringing them and we can’t save them if they’re hidden by a fearful cat. Cat-caught animals need to be administered antibiotics to counteract the toxins in cat saliva.
- If you see a nest of either species and are able to leave them there but want to know if mom is caring for them, you can put foliage lightly in front of any openings or make an X with string, then check in 12-18 hours later to see if mom’s been there and moved things around getting to her babies.
- Both species only feed their young 1-2 times daily. Their milk is one of the most nutritious of all mammals. If there’s no sign of mom being there within 18 hours, call WR&R Hotline immediately – 530-432-5522.
- Hares/Rabbits have such a high metabolism, they can’t go as long as other species without food. If you’re not sure, call us. We will come and check the babies. If they’re fine, you can watch them grow up where they are. If not, we will raise them and bring them back for release. It’s a myth that the mother won’t return and care for her babies if there’s human scent on them. Mom will continue with her job. She will only be spooked off if she continuously sees humans at her nest; make no mistake, she’s watching.
- Both species are very fragile, more than any other mammal species we deal with. Stress alone will kill them. It is very important to get them to an experienced rehabber as soon as possible. Until then, put them in a dark, quiet place without the sounds of dogs, kids, television or anything unnatural. Avoid handling; their backs are very fragile. Even a newborn can break it’s back struggling when handled.
- Please, do not try to give them medications. Most medications that are used with other mammals are toxic to rabbits/hares. Trained small mammal rehabilitators have the supplies and medications to care for them properly, to give them their best chance of survival and to be reintroduced back to their homes.