Thursday, April 10, 2014
With the coming of spring, it's time to remind folks about what to do if you happen to find baby wild animals. Often, when you come across a nest of wildlings, be they feather or fur, it's best to leave them alone. Out in the wild, wild mothers will leave their youngsters unattended for brief periods of time if they go off to forage. Consider this: if they were able to build a nest without you necessarily knowing their secret hiding place, then they would probably prefer to try to raise the next generation without being disturbed. Some nests are very elaborate, intricately weaved with the finest talent and skill by a wild parent, or sometimes, the nests are merely a little scrape in the ground with a few blades of grass placed over the top of the scrape. Such is the case with baby bunnies. When folks are getting out in the yard for springtime cleanup, a nest of rabbits may very well be disturbed. If you find a nest of rabbits, there are usually 2 to 4 babies, curled up in a pile. Do not be alarmed. Mama bunny will leave her little ones all alone pretty much for the whole day and only come back to take care of the kids at dawn and dusk. More than likely, mama bunny will not be seen too much throughout the day as she stays away from the nest to keep would-be predators away from her babies. If you do come across them and disturb them, quietly place them back where you found them, cover up with a bit of soft grass, and try to keep curious children and pets out of the vicinity if possible. A way to tell if the babies are being taken care of is to put a soft string, or a couple of light twigs over top of the bunny nest and come back the next day to see if mama has moved them to take care of the babies. You can also place a very light layer of unscented baby powder around the nest and look for paw prints as well. Hopefully you will be able to tell if mama has come back when no one is looking. Another thing you may not know about baby bunnies, is that, believe it or not, they are on their own within a month. If you catch a baby bunny that's about 4 inches long and has its eyes open and is out in the yard, it's pretty much on its own at that point. Sometimes, if they are just right out of the nest for the first time, they will freeze in fear and not move. This is a strategy of theirs to hide from you in plain sight. Wild bunnies are very nervous creatures, and can become easily stressed out if handled and actually die of a heart attack, so it is best to NOT disturb them if at all possible. After a while, if they are left alone they will most likely move on and keep to themselves, hiding in the softly wafting blades of grass watching from the safety of a little hidey hole in your yard. Next time, I will tell you about baby birds and what to do if you happen to find a young feathery friend hopping around in your yard, that's seemingly injured, but in all likelihood, is not truly injured.