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Wild Animals/weaning age of baby bunny

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Question
Hi I am Bettie and we have found a bunny. He's very young and we neeed to know the age that they start eating on their own. Also, we have touched him, will he be okay if we put him back outside or do we need to keep him inside till he's older? Thank you for your help. Will be looking for  a reply asap please..... he also has a small tear on his fur between side and back on his right body side, we put antibotic ointment on him...

Answer
Dear Bettie

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

I am guessing that you found a young cottontail rabbit.

I can't give you advice about the tear, but http://www.2ndchance.info/bunnies.htm says that cottontails are easily injured and do not react well to antibiotics. I suggest you contact a local wildlife rehabiltator or veterinarian. You should be able to find somebody via http://www.ncwildliferehab.org/veterinary/faq.html.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_cottontail#Reproduction says the cottontail is weaned and becomes independent at 4-5 weeks.  http://www.2ndchance.info/bunnies.htm provides useful information. It says that rabbits have a very good sense of smell, but often smell predators and humans. http://saras-sanctuary.org/cottontail-info/ has additional information that can help. The mother's maternal instincts are strong and will tend to avoid a threatening presence, rather than a threatening scent. If you know where the nest is, you can put the rabbit back during the day, as it will acquire the scent of the nest before the mother returns to suckle her babies at night. It may be best to ask the wildlife veterinarian or rehabilitator to check if the rabbit is capable of living independently or needs to be suckled by its mother.  

I hope this helps

All the best

Jonathan

Wild Animals

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Jonathan Wright

Expertise

I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.

Experience

I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

Organizations
WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Publications
Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

Education/Credentials
BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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