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30 March . 2019

What to do when you find baby rabbits and other wild animals

Canyon Falls is a community that’s close to nature, with more than 200 acres of parks, trails and natural open space. Much of the open natural space in Canyon Falls is preserved along Graham Branch Creek, which meanders through the heart of the community. Many homesites also border along the parks, trails and greenbelts located throughout Canyon Falls.

Living so close to nature, residents often see rabbits, opossums, birds and other wildlife in parks, along trails and in their backyards. In springtime, especially, residents may encounter wild baby animals that may appear to be abandoned and in distress. The urge to “rescue” such cute, seemingly helpless critters can be strong, but sometimes interfering can actually be harmful.

Here are some tips from the town of Flower Mound and North Texas’ WildRescue, Inc. about what to do when you encounter a wild baby rabbit, the most common and fragile wild animal you will most likely encounter in our area. Please visit their website for detailed advice on what to do if you find a baby opossum, raccoon or wild bird.

  • If the baby rabbits’ eyes are still closed, they are under 10 days of age. If the nest is intact, the babies look fat and plump and are nestled snuggly next to each other, and there seems to be no immediate danger to them, then leave them alone.
  • The mother rabbit usually stays away from the nest during the day, only returning to feed, stimulate and clean her babies. If the mother does not return after 24 hours or the nest is destroyed, then human intervention is needed.
  • You can check to see if the mother rabbit is coming back to the nest by making an “X” over the nest with strands of dental floss or other thin string. If the string is pushed back out of the way in the morning, then you know that mom has returned to her babies. If after 24 hours the string is still in place, then emergency care is needed.
  • Another method is to sprinkle cornstarch, flour, or other unscented powder around the nest. You will see the mother’s footprints in the powder in the daylight, and know that she has returned to her nest and her babies should be left undisturbed. Neither method is always a guarantee, however. Be sure to check the babies for plump tummies before determining that the mother has not come back.
  • Do not attempt to feed the rabbits. Wild rabbits require a specialized formula.
  • Do not keep these animals as a pet. Wild rabbits do not trust humans and do not accept other domestic animals as companions.
  • Wild rabbits do not make good pets, WildRescue stresses. They are wild things and have wild instincts. They do not trust humans and do not accept other domestic animals as companions. Please do not consider keeping these incredible and fragile creatures as a pet – to keep a cottontail in a cage for the rest of its life is to doom it to a life of sadness and broken spirit.
  • If babies look to be in imminent danger, injured, or there is no sign of the mother after 24 hours, contact Flower Mound Animal Services at 972-874-6390 or WildRescue at 972-891-9286.