Has anyone here ever tried to rehabilitate a baby cottontail?

Soltaria

Chirping
5 Years
Mar 25, 2014
276
5
88
General Ft. Worth Area, Tx
Hi guys, our cats brought us a baby cottontail rabbit. I tried to rehab it but he didn't make it :(
Does anyone know what I might have done wrong?
I got him to eat which the internet told me was one of the hardest parts. I gave him maybe a tablespoon of formula and he ate all the broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce he wanted. He was doing great when I put him back in his box for the night but when I woke up he was dead. I don't know what happened. I know I didn't feed him too much and he seemed really energetic and healthy. He was crawling all over me and my bed before I put him back. I just don't know where I went wrong.
 

Stacykins

Crowing
9 Years
Jan 19, 2011
4,355
223
258
Escanaba, MI
Did you attempt to find the nest? Keep your cat in the house?

Not being a certified, experienced wildlife rehabilitator is what went wrong. Even those who have done wildlife rehabilitation their entire lives have trouble with wild rabbits. Next time, if you ever find a wild animal, immediately contact a wildlife rehabber. Wild rabbits stress out much more than any other animal in captivity, and as a result, die easily.

In addition, giving lettuce and cabbage was basically setting the rabbit up for problems. Cabbage causes bloat and/or diarrhea. Iceberg lettuce basically has no nutritional value, and any dark leafy lettuce can cause digestive problems if the animal is not used to it.

Handling the rabbit that much is probably what killed it though. Again, they stress out in captivity, even when handling is kept to a bare minimum. You cannot tame a wild rabbit. To it, you are the most terrifying monster.

Do I sound blunt? Yes. Maybe next time you'll keep your cat in the house, where it can't disturb wildlife.

Note the second part of this picture:


Edit: Forgot to add this great article with a perfect title....Can I Keep Him? NO!
 
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Soltaria

Chirping
5 Years
Mar 25, 2014
276
5
88
General Ft. Worth Area, Tx
The mother and nest were nowhere to be found and while I don't feel I have the need to, I will specify that when I say "our" cats I am talking about my in-law's cats which I have no say in whether or not they roam outside. Regardless, I am not here to debate the merits of keeping cats indoors.
I did try to find a rehaber. The local Petsmart told me theirs would be in Monday (today) and to bring it in then but the little guy did not make it that far. I did research to learn as best I could how to properly take care of it beforehand in hopes that it would be able to be given to someone who could take better care of it and release it back into the wild successfully. I understand there are many people who raid nests in search of pets, but this is not one of those times.
 

Stacykins

Crowing
9 Years
Jan 19, 2011
4,355
223
258
Escanaba, MI
All of your research didn't mention keep all contact to a minimum (not letting the adorable, freaked out wild animal crawl all over you/your bed)? To keep the environment quiet and dark? Must've not been very...extensive...research.

In fact, if the eyes were open and the rabbit was mobile, it would have been best to return the rabbit outside where you think the cat might've picked it up (and confine the cat for the next day). Wild rabbits leave the nest at an early age, and you finding the mother is akin to finding a needle in a haystack, except you don't know where the haystack is in the first place, and it only appears for a few minutes to quickly feed the babies.

But whatever, what is done is done, the animal is already dead. Next time, leave it to a professional.
 

Soltaria

Chirping
5 Years
Mar 25, 2014
276
5
88
General Ft. Worth Area, Tx
My contact with him was during feeding which is impossible to do without contact. I let him run around as he saw fit in an attempt to put as little stress as possible on him. He went where he wanted to go instead of having something giant hold him down and try to force feed him things. I see that you feel strongly about this topic but as I mentioned earlier, I both sought and found a professional so I'm not sure why you feel I deserve a hostile treatment.
 

Haviris

Songster
12 Years
Sep 4, 2007
1,262
3
183
I have successfully raised two, I took them away from the dogs, they were very tiny, fully furred, but eyes were not open I would guess one week old (comparing them to domestic rabbits). I never touched them, when I fed them I wrapped them in a rag, and returned them to the box when I was done. Once they were eating solids I released them in a safe area.

It is very hard work and not something I EVER want to do, then or now. I can't leave one to suffer, but I'd rather poke my eye with a needle then to be faced with having to try and save a baby wild bunny.

I have heard/read that they get something out of their mother's poop, and have always assumed that is why they are so hard to raise (because they don't get it), don't know what happened with my two, just got lucky I guess.

I am thankful at this point that I do know a rehabber (well two, but the other one I wouldn't give a pet rock to, not because of her rehabbing abilities, but because I hate her as a person). In the past I have not had any luck when I have attempted to get help with an injured or orphaned animal.
 

Soltaria

Chirping
5 Years
Mar 25, 2014
276
5
88
General Ft. Worth Area, Tx
I didn't have much luck either. The few people I spoke with were of the mind that it's a wild animal and you should let nature take its course which begs the question of why they would be a rehabber in the first place. Maybe they just didn't want to deal with it since the most likely outcome is for it to die. Or maybe they were full but it seems like they would say that much. The cashier told me their rehabber wasn't quite so grim. I'm reasonably certain she would have helped had he made it that far.
 

Chickerdoodle13

The truth is out there...
12 Years
Mar 5, 2007
6,820
374
331
Phoenix, AZ
Wild baby rabbits are EXTREMELY difficult to raise, even for trained rehabbers. It sounds like you did the right thing in calling around for rehabbers. Decreased handling is definitely recommended, but it sounds like you did what you could for the little guy. In the future though, I do agree with the other poster that the lettuce and greens are not so good. They can cause diarrhea, and this can very quickly dehydrate an animal leading to death. I would just use this as a lesson to read up on things for the next time!
 

Soltaria

Chirping
5 Years
Mar 25, 2014
276
5
88
General Ft. Worth Area, Tx
Hopefully there won't have to be a next time but in the case that there is I'm glad to have that information now. The things I read said give them green stuff to eat and didn't really specify what kind of green stuff.
 
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