The coming of spring is a wonderful time that heralds rebirth and regeneration as Nature shrugs off the effects of winter. And with Easter fast coming up, new life bursts forth in the form of new greenery and baby animals.
While these little critters in the wild may be cute and adorable, not many people know how to properly interact with them. But there’s one simple rule of thumb when it comes to interacting with wild baby animals: Don’t.
Around this time of the year, rescue centers typically get inundated with animals brought to them by well-meaning but ignorant people who find “abandoned” baby birds and bunnies.
While well-meant, turning in wild animals is also ill-advised in most cases. This is why many rehab and wildlife groups have been trying to tell people to exercise care before deciding to bring in baby bunnies that seem abandoned because in most cases, they’re not.
Barb J Melton posted on Facebook on March 16: “IT’S BUNNY SEASON!! REMINDER AS SPRING APPROACHES. Bunnies are one of the most frequently ‘kidnapped’ mammal species.
“Mothers dig a very shallow nest in the ground that is easily uncovered when mowing or raking the yard. If you find a rabbit nest — leave it alone!! Mother rabbits only return to the nest two or three times a day, usually before dawn and right after dusk.”
To verify if the bunnies are actually abandoned or not, there’s a simple trick to it.
“To determine if they are orphaned, either place a string across the nest in a tic-tac-toe shape or circle the nest with flour. Check the nest the next day. If the string or flour is disturbed, the mother has returned. If not, take the bunnies to a rehabilitator.”
“A bunny that is bright eyed and 4-5 inches long is fully independent and does NOT need to be rescued! If you find a bunny that does need to be rescued, put it in a dark, quiet location. Bunnies are a prey species and while they may look calm, they are actually very, very scared!”
What’s sad is that many of the abandoned kits who were “helped” died because of heart failure. This is because any extra handling, movement, or loud noises can terrify them so much that they get heart attacks.
“We’ve been getting LOTS of calls about wild baby bunnies lately,” the Animal Rescue League of Iowa said in their own post. They encouraged people to let wild animals be and use the tic-tac-toe yarn method if they suspect that the baby bunnies are abandoned.
“THINGS TO REMEMBER: If you have found an orphaned or injured baby rabbit and must touch it before help arrives, be sure to wear gloves,” they added. “Place it in a secure, ventilated container and keep it in a warm, dark, quiet place until an animal control officer or wildlife rehabilitator can assist.”
“Also, do not feed the baby rabbit. Giving it the wrong foods (like milk or lettuce) can kill it. Wait for experienced help to come.”
Nature has its own rhythm and trying to blunder through it in ignorance can often do more harm than good.
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