Rabbits and Hares

In Saskatchewan, most “bunnies” are actually Hares. Hares are born fully furred and become mobile shortly after birth.

Normal Behaviour:

    • Spend 3 – 4 weeks moving around to different hiding places.
    • Mothers “don’t keep all their eggs in one basket” and will spread their babies around several nearby areas or yards to ensure a greater chance of survival.
    • Babies are born scentless. The mother stays away so as not to attract predators.
    • The mother is very elusive and will only visit the young to feed them once or twice a day – usually around dawn and dusk.
    • Rescue is not likely needed when babies show no obvious signs of injuries or illness, their eyes are bright and clear, they try to remain hidden.

 

Healthy hares that were returned to the wild.

One defence of rabbits and hares is to remain perfectly still.

Cottontail Rabbits can be found in the southern area of Saskatchewan. Baby rabbits are born blind and hairless and will spend the first two or three weeks in the nest. The nest consists of a shallow depression in the ground lined with grass and fur. Other than returning to feed them around dawn and dusk, the nest is left mostly unattended. If the nest is disturbed but, the babies are uninjured, quickly reform the nest and cover them back up. You can tell if the mother returns by placing two 12 inch long strings in an X formation over the top of the nest. If the strings are displaced in the morning you know the mother has returned and they are okay. If the string has not moved it is likely the mother is not returning and they should be brought to a rehabilitator.

Baby rabbits and hares have special dietary needs and can be very difficult to raise.

Signs of Distress

  • Obvious signs of injury such as broken limbs, bleeding.
  • Picked up/brought home by a pet – cats in particular have dangerous bacteria under their claws and in their mouths.
  • There are dead siblings/parent around.
  • They appear lethargic or unaware of their surroundings.
  • There are maggots or flies around it.

If any of these signs are present the animal should be brought to a vet or rehabilitator. Call the hotline at 306.242.7177.

How Can You Help?

  • Walk before you mow! Babies can often be found hidden in the grass.
    Keep pets inside or leashed during baby season.
  • Teach your children not to pick up baby animals – no matter how cute they are!
  • If you have already removed a baby hare or rabbit from the wild it can be returned if a whole night has not passed.
  • Rub the baby with fresh grass clippings to disguise your scent and put it back where it was found. Monitor it occasionally over the next couple of days to make sure there are no signs of physical distress.
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