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Question
I notice a rabbit in my backyard, during late morning, 5 days ago it looked like a very small(young) and I walked out there to see if it was alive. As I got close it sat up and then hopped off just a little ways. I then noticed it was full size and the significant indention in the ground. I went back in my house so not to scare her off, being quit sure it was a nest. Weird thing is she has not left that nest during daylight, at all, for the past five days. I know because I have a dog that keeps begging to go outside and I keep checking to see if she is still there. When is she going to leave that nest? I fear if my dog scares her and he sees her run off he WILL find the nest.  I have been stuck having to take him out front for short stays rather than allowing him to be in the back on his own.

Answer
Dear Jennifer

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

http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/mammals-louisiana lists two species of rabbits living in Lousiana; the swamp and eastern cottontails.

http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Sylvilagus_aquaticus/#reproductio gives details about the nesting behaviour of the swamp cottontail and says that the young rabbits leave the nest after 12-15 days of age. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_cottontail#Reproduction says that the young eastern cottontails begin to move out of the nest for short trips at 12-16 days old and are weaned and independent by 4 to 5 weeks. Litters disperse at about 7 weeks. Females do not stay in the nest with the young but return to the opening of the nest to nurse, usually twice a day.

If the rabbit gave birth about 8 days ago, you may have to wait another 4-8 days before the young leave the nest.

If you are worrried about the rabbit, it may be best to contact a local wildlife rehabilitator using http://www.lawraonline.com/tempsite/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id.

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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