Have you found a BABY rabbit?
Is the Baby Abandoned?
Check the area where the baby was found and look for a nest. Rabbits nest in a shallow “scrape” in the ground lined with a mixture of dried grass and rabbit fur. If you found the rabbits in or near a nest, use the reunite instructions below. Do not attempt to reunite if the baby is:
- Caught by a cat/dog/hawk
- Flies are circling
- Nest has been destroyed
- Dehydrated (pinch the skin on its back and if it does not return to original shape within one second then it is dehydrated)
- On a playground
- Old enough to be independent (Four inches or longer with erect ears, hopping around quickly, and avoiding people)
If the baby has any of the above conditions, please call us at 713-468-8972.
Reuniting Instructions: The “X Test”
*Always use gloves to handle baby rabbits! Rabbits are very sensitive to foreign scents!*
- Check if the baby feels cold. If it feels cold, line a cardboard box with a t-shirt and place the rabbit inside. Place the box half on and half off a heating pad. (If you do not have a heating pad, heat up a towel in the dryer to wrap them in). Warm the baby for one hour before attempting to re-nest.
- Place the baby back in the nest.
- Use gloves to cover the nest back up with the dried grass + fur mixture
- Fashion a large “X” on top of the nest using pine needles, leaves, or pieces of grass. The center of the “X” should be over the center of the nest with the edges of the “X” overlapping the edges of the nest. (NOTE: some sources may suggest using string, but the scent of string or any other unnatural materials may be enough to scare the mom from returning).
- Take a photo of the X to compare to later
- Leave the nest area undisturbed for 12 hours (keep any pets out of the area too)
- If the pattern is displaced or pushed aside but the nest is still covered, the mother is caring for them.
If the "X" is undisturbed after 12 hours, please call 713-468-8972.
Nest Attacked by Animal
If a dog has attacked the nest, place any injured babies into a box. Call us immediately to make arrangements to bring the injured ones into the center at 713-468-8972. Leave the healthy ones in the nest and perform the “X Test” described above. If the “X Test” is successful, please do not leave any pets unattended in the nest area for three weeks.
If a cat or unknown animal has attacked the nest, place all the babies (injured and healthy) into a box, and call us at 713-468-8972. If we are closed, leave a voicemail and follow the Temporary Care Instructions below.
Have you found in INJURED or ILL rabbit?
If you find a rabbit of any age that is:
- Caught by a cat or dog
- Visibly injured
- Unable to walk
- Limping or dragging a limb
- Covered in ants or flies
Please contact us at 713-468-8972 as soon as possible to determine further steps. If we are closed, leave a voicemail and follow the Temporary Care Instructions below.
Temporary Care Instructions for ALL Animals:
- Houston Humane Society Wildlife Center (HHS Wildlife Center) recommends that you wear gloves or use a cloth barrier when handling wildlife.
- Prepare an appropriate-sized cardboard box by poking air holes in the top and placing a soft cloth (T-Shirt, towel, paper towels) in the bottom. DO NOT put the animal into a plastic bag.
- Place the animal into the prepared box and tape the box shut. For injured adults, place the box on its side next to the animal and use a stick, broom, or rolled-up newspaper to gently push the animal into the box.
- Do not give the animal any food or liquids. Feeding an animal an incorrect diet can result in injury or death. In addition, rescued animals can get wet from liquids and become hypothermic and/or spill food on their fur/feathers, potentially causing damage.
- Keep the animal in a warm, dark, quiet place. Darkness makes the animal feel more secure. If the animal is a baby, the box can be placed half on and half off a heating pad set on low. If the animal gets too warm it will move to the other end of the box. Do not place adult animals on a heating pad.
- Leave the animal alone. Human noise, touch, and eye contact are very stressful to wild animals and can result in shock or even death. This is especially important in the case of injured or adult animals.
- If an animal has been caught by a cat or dog, please call HHS Wildlife Center immediately at 713-468-8972. Even if wounds are not visible, the animal needs medical intervention as soon as possible.
- Keep children and pets away. BE CAREFUL! An animal that is hurt or frightened may bite.
- Call HHS Wildlife Center at 713-468-8972 as soon as possible!
General Information about Rabbits in the Houston Area
The two species of rabbits commonly seen in the Houston area are the eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) and the swamp rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus). In Houston, we typically see rabbit babies heavily from March to May, and sporadically from June-August. However, it is not uncommon to see a few babies as early as January or as late as November. At about three weeks of age, rabbits, (who are about the size of a hamster) are independent. Babies whose bodies are at least four inches long, ears are erect, can hop around quickly, and avoid people are likely independent.