Found a Wild Bunny in Your Montana Backyard? Here’s What to Do.
I was in the middle of deep-frying french fries last night when pandemonium started breaking out in my yard. Our cat had a baby bunny in her mouth. The kids started freaking out. I had: kids chasing the cat, the cat dodging kids (with a rabbit in her mouth), lots of yelling and screaming, and the dogs were starting to get pretty nervous too. It was a real flurry of craziness for about 60 seconds.
The terrified bunny was alive.
The kids somehow got the cat to drop the rabbit. Part of me was certain the bunny was dead. Nope. It was very much alive. The baby rabbit managed to find a small hole in the fence to avoid the cat/kids/dogs and escaped. For a moment.
Kid #1 goes into the house and returns with a pet carrier and promptly found the little bunny and stuck him in the cage. "We got a rabbit! Can we keep it?" Kid #2 decided we must help the poor bunny recover. Red flag alarms started blaring in my head. "No. Nope, not a chance, we're absolutely not keeping this rabbit." I examined the little bunny for visible injuries and he/she seemed unharmed. Emma Kitty must have a gentle mouth.
Wild rabbits do not make good pets.
Kid #1 starts searching the internet and tells me that wild rabbits "actually make really good pets." I doubted his source. I have never heard that before in my entire life. The one thing I have heard (repeatably) is that wild animals rarely make good pets. I reached out to ZooMontana's Jeff Ewalt for confirmation. Here's what he said.
What to do if your kid or cat finds a baby rabbit?
- Put it back. Jeff said if it's big enough to hop on its own, it's big enough to survive on its own. The little bunny our cat found was clearly big enough to live without its mom.
- Native rabbits do NOT make good pets. They're too high-strung. In fact, rabbits can have fear-induced heart attacks, says Rabbitology.com.
- MYTH: If you touch a baby rabbit, its mother will abandon it. Rabbit moms are actually good parents and they will not abandon their young (who normally leave the nest in about 3 weeks). The Toronto Wildlife Centre has more info on what to do if you disturb a rabbit nest.
I convinced my kids to set the rabbit free. The cute little bunny gets to live another day. Or, until the cat finds it again.