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Rabbits/Wild baby rabbit; questions and concerns


Hello Dana, yesterday I was walking my neighbor's dog when she got into a rabbits nest. All of the babies were fine except for one, who has a pretty substantial cut going from his right eye to about the middle of his forehead. The baby's eyes were closed, however the cut ripped his right eye open, but there is no response from him when I move near or around d his eye, which leads me to believe he can't and probably won't be able to see out of it. I put a powdered clotting agent on the cut to stop the bleeding and it has since begun to close up. His eyes are still closed, and his ears opened today. I am feeding him a rabbit milk replacement formula from the pet store, which also came with a small tube of stuff that is supposed to help them grow the proper digestive bacteria.
I am not really sure how much to feed him, however. My friend who has rehabbed wild rabbits before told me to look for a "milk line" but i am not really sure what/where that is or how to find it. I am scared that I'm under feeding him because I'm afraid to over feed him.
I am also having a hard time stimulating him to go to the bathroom, do you have any tricks for that? He seems to be settling in alright, but I know raising baby bunnies can be really tough.
I haven't seen the mother come back to the nest in a while either, I put some sticks across it but they weren't moved.Should I go get his 5 other siblings and care for them as well? Would I keep the other 5 separate from him, seeing as they will be returning to the wild and he won't?
Thanks and hope to hear from you soon!

Dear Rachel,

Definitely DO NOT get the other siblings!  A cottontail this tiny is nearly impossible to raise successfully, and truly this baby's best chance is for you to take him back to the nest, rub him with plucked grass, and put him back with the other babies.  Mother will feed him along with the rest.

Baby cottontails are extremely susceptible to the E. coli we have all over us, and if you can get a small dose of oral ciprofloxacin into him before returning him, it will help reduce the E. coli population that might have been introduced.  

Alternatively, find a wildlife rehabber who is experienced with raising baby cottontails and get him there ASAP:

Finally, if none of this is feasible, then there is excellent information here:

I hope this helps, and that the baby will be fine.



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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:

Find a rabbit vet at for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.

RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.


I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

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