Reader view: What to know about ‘rescuing’ baby cottontails

It’s baby cottontail time! In past years, some well-meaning residents have kidnapped perfectly healthy baby cottontails because they think that the baby cottontails are in distress when they are not.

The babies are then taken to local wildlife shelters, which will most likely euthanize them because the Eastern cottontail is considered an invasive species. So instead of “saving“ these healthy babies, these uninformed “rescuers” are probably causing their early demise.

Rabbits are crepuscular creatures, so Mama Cottontail will only visit her nest at dawn and dusk, and will stay away the rest of the time to try to avoid leading predators back to her babies. It’s perfectly normal to find the babies on their own in the nest during the day. If they’re a little bit older, they might even be wandering a few feet away from the nest.

If you find a nest of baby cottontails in your yard, and you are afraid of your dog or cat killing them, you can set up a little garden fence around the nest to keep larger animals out. The barrier just needs holes big enough for the mom to get in and out and feed her babies, and for the babies themselves to leave once they are old enough to wander out of the nest. Feel free to contact me if you need guidance on setting up a dog- or cat-proof fence around a cottontail nest in your yard.

Otherwise, here are some pictures of healthy baby cottontails that are fine and do not need any human intervention. There are also pictures of baby cottontails who actually do need to be rescued because Mama Cottontail probably didn’t make it home to feed her babies.

Sabrina Connaughton and I both live in Edmonds and are active in animal rescue locally, so please check in with either of us before intervening to “rescue“ any baby cottontails you might find.

Jenna Nand:
Sabrina Connaughton:

— By Jenna Nand


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