Dog Injured Wild Kits

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Rachel Schaub

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I joined looking for information, since I’m having a hard time finding information online. My husband mowed Sunday, never noticed anything in the yard. Monday I was cleaning the yard, and came across a nest out in the open. I sat a patio chair over it with a big brick, and attempted arranging temporary fencing around it, but mom can still get in underneath. Yesterday it was windy and my Rott picked up the scent he was immediately curious. I lowered more fencing and since it was cold encircled the nest with straw to cut the wind. Today he got through the back, part and dragged out a couple, possibly pawed them out. I heard a loud squeal, I ran out got him in the house and accessed the damage. At first I didn’t notice anything wrong so I carefully moved the one I seen back into the nest it wiggled down in after letting it go I noticed one of the ears on the ground. We had to leave so when I got home I went back out to access everything, put a few more patio chairs out and more fencing. There was a kit just outside that wasn't there when we left. I hadn’t noticed anymore except the one. This additional one had a scrape on its head, and the nose was scraped, a bit of skin torn back, but not bleeding. I was going to access the damage if all of them and found another that was bleeding kind of in the cheek area, it was fresher, I dabbed it a bit and out it back. There’s probably 7, I didn’t want to dig them all out, plus with the covering of the chair etc they’re kind of hard to access, they’re wiggly and I didn’t want to mess with the nest anymore than I had already. I can’t find a cottontail rehabber anywhere in my area, I do have a call into a rehab person that listed mammals, but I think they’re into hawks now by the message on their machine. We live in NW Indiana in the city, but there’s a neighbors cat that hunts everything and I’ve seen hawks in the big pines behind our house. If mom comes back this evening or in the morning will she attempt cleaning them up? If one does die, does she take them out of the nest, should I check in on them tomorrow to see if they’re still alive. I read online that she will be back to feed them and saw her originally Monday after I put the chairs/fence up, but nothing about those questions I just asked. I don’t want them to suffer, but if they can pull through naturally with no more intervention I’ll let them be and do my best to keep my dog away. Thanks in advance for any advice, this is more stress than I wanted to deal with at this time.
 

Oceanie

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That must be stressful for you. I don't really have any good advice, just monitor the nest and the kits, and try to get a hold of someone in your area who could help.
 

Rachel Schaub

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After everything I’ve read over the last few days, I’m going to let Mother Nature take it’s course. I don’t really want to disturb them anymore than what’s been done, I was just worried for the remaining healthy ones if the few injured were to die in the nest. I even looked at the Michigan rehab list and it seems like most people rehab fox, or hawks and owls that are within a reasonable drive. Thanks though, the information on this board has been useful.
 

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Have you contacted a nearby DVM clinic that treats lagomorphs? Sometimes they can be of help. This is awful to know that the others will die by the neighbor's roaming cat. The lawn chair protection will be temp help from overhead hawks and crows.

DNR doesn't give a crap about lagomorphs so you're best to locate a person who cares about cottontail species.

The babies who die will be taken by nocturnal predators or hawks. Any blood scent will attract predators.

** Please keep your Rott away from Mother Cottontail and the nest. ** Best advice at this time.

I'm very sad that these innocent little ones won't have a chance to survive. If you need help I can link you to a cottontail rehabilitator in WI, but that's far away from Indiana. I rehabbed for several years before transitioning to domestic rescue and care.

I hope you have plenty of safe havens around where Mother Cottontail can hide and be safe.
 
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TreasuredFriend

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I'm glad you care about loss of life; cottontails don't have the upper hand when it comes to survival or pertaining to humans who _Do Care_ and choose to assist and see life go on for as long as possible. -- You have a caring mindset.
 

Rachel Schaub

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We live in the city, but there’s plenty of places for the mother to hide out during the day. Including a 10’x40’ area behind our garage with overgrowth and there’s even a couple old groundhog holes we have yet to fill in. Groundhog was trapped back in March and released far away. So it really surprised me that the rabbit had its litter in the open yard. I have 4 patio chairs now and temp fencing all around with enough space for mother to get under. I put bricks on the chairs so they don’t fly away in the wind, I placed a kitchen bag in the chair directly over the nest so rain doesn’t leak in and paperclipped it down so it doesn’t wrestle much in the wind to eliminate scaring her off when she does come around. The neighbors have sheds bunnies can go under and there’s other neighbors with overgrown in woodsy areas. Our dog lives in the house, but we monitor him when he goes outside. The neighbors cat has to climb a fence to get in the backyard, but it’s been indoors more because of the cold nights. The local rehab never called me back, even if you don’t do rabbits you should at least acknowledge the call. After returning to work today I spoke to a few of my drivers, one was licensed rehabber in the past, but didn’t have any suggestions for the kits. I peaked in on them this evening and saw a little movement, they’re buried well and I pushed the straw up so they couldn’t easily be seen by anything. I’m not sure if anything worse has happened to the injured ones, but I figured since my circle mound If straw wasn’t as high as I left it yesterday, mom was still coming back. By what I’ve been reading they’ll be gone in 3 weeks around Memorial Day. Until then I’m not moving any barricades and the grass will be high in that area.

Thanks for the suggestion of a rehabber in Wisconsin, that’s about 3 hours to the state line for me, but maybe it will be useful information if another person living closer reads in the future.
 

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I may be able to link you to her via email, also. Yucky that the local rehab place never did a courtesy callback.

You are those cottontail kits earthly angel, and thank you for all you are doing. (I visited my usual Facebook groups today and read responses wrt a loose, neighbor's cat killing cottontail kits. // angry, angry)

Hooray that Mother Cottontail is still coming back to nurse! Yes, at around 3 weeks of age they will move out to find additional habitat. We observed Mother Cottontail coming less and less around that time to the nest located in our front yard. Immense Thanks for all you are doing. It was also sweet to see the kits scamper to Mom from their safe habitat in a major brushpile, pallet area, everygreen cove area and flop on their backs to suckle from mom's milk jugs!

p.s. we have had resident deck woodchucks with a burrow system behind our garage. Hubby is quite attached to them. Well, me too. Momma Woodchuck gave birth to 2 pups in 2017. Twas a memorable couple of weeks listening to them chirp, vocalize, and wrestle with each other. Momma lived by us for upwards of 5 or so years, but only had one litter. Now one of her offspring may have returned. Off topic, I'm sorry.

I'll keep following Rachel, and I send gratitude for caring about the vulnerable little ones and Mom!
 

Rachel Schaub

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I just had a confirmed mamma rabbit sighting in the nest this evening out my kitchen window. This eases my mind a bit, because at least she’s coming back even with the injured kits. I’m not planning on touching anything again, but now I’m wondering if I should place a landscaping brick, ring around the perimeter to keep the kits near the nest. I don’t really want them wondering out far once their eyes are open and they’re hopping around in the next week or so. I’m still keeping an eye on my dog, so he doesn’t mess around near anything. I’ll keep an update, maybe these posts will be useful to someone else that ends up with cottontails in their yard unexpectedly.
 

TreasuredFriend

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Rachel, Thanks for keeping an eye on your dog. His urine soilage in grassy parts of your property may ward off foxes or nocturnal predators to a limited degree.

Are you able to create safe hidey areas for the youngsters to run under or run to, once they are mobile?

- If you observe them nibbling outside the nest and can keep watch on them, see if they quickly dash or duck back into the ground area as protected homebase if they sense movement from you, or any strange being (as in aerial crows, hawks, raptors). The ground nest won't protect them for long once they mature and any kind of predatory being is tuned into their whereabouts. Thank Goodness Mamma Rabbit is returning!
 

Rachel Schaub

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I can’t believe how fast those little bunnies grow, eyes are open and they’re hopping around. We were able to get another sighting of feeding time, Momma cautiously hops up under the chair on the right up to the straw perimeter that surrounds the den. I counted at least 5 little bunnies that hopped out of the center over the straw to get to mom then I moved over so my husband could see. We kind of hide to the side of our kitchen window, so she doesn’t really see us move. I was never able to get an accurate count, but maybe none of the injuries were bad enough to cause death to any. There’s at least one brave little bunny who ventured out and froze solid near my peonies, which aren’t far away. I ended up scooping him up and sat him in the straw and he jumped into the nest. I didn’t want my dog going out and finding him. I included a picture of the chairs I used to barricade the nest and used some fencing to create a perimeter to keep animals away. I tried building up a wall of straw to hide them better in case a cat wondered over. I told my husband he couldn’t mow until Memorial Day and needs to check everything in the yard. I imagine they’ll be double in size and will hop away to the back of the yard or somewhere else by then. The yards are fenced around our neighborhood, besides having another groundhog there’s neighbors dogs, which live inside and some cats wonder around. So no fox until you’re in a more wooded area outside the city. I’m happy to see most are doing good from a distance and will be happy to see them hop off outta here, but they are so cute. 4BC3B002-1231-4102-8DA2-55890189E105.jpeg84BA4524-AA8D-4CE3-9701-5278C952BCD8.jpeg
 

TreasuredFriend

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You are an amazing and caring person, Rachel. YThanx for the images. Your visuals may help others who have Qs and come across a nest. You continue to give Mother Cottontail the best possible chance to help her vulnerable babes suckle and gain the appropriate Gut Flora from colostrum to survive. Your set-up and protection makes any caring bun-lover smile. Also true; freeze, flee or fight. Glad you stay hidden from the kitchen window. With raptors and gazillion predators that kill defenseless lagomorphs, they need to flee to safety soon as danger is detected. As for roaming cats, and foxes, or hawks, buns have zero ways to fight back.

The outdoor patio chairs look similar to what we did when Mother Cottontail gave birth in our front yard.

Little ones DO grow incredibly fast. Hope you can have some hidey spots underneath low-wooden pallets or build a nice-looking brush pile and inaccessible places for preds with just enough room for somebun to take refuge.

- I love the straw you thoughtfully added! During the years I rehabbed injured or orphaned e/c's it was heartwarming to see a release site with protection, and seeing all vulnerable youngsters mature and survive.

I've archived numerous pics from my rehab days. Glad your hubby will watch out when he mows the lawn! And your dog can be chaperoned knowing that Momma Cottontail kinda likes your yard for a nesting place. Thanks for caring, taking the time, and all you are doing. Bunny hugs.
 

Rachel Schaub

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With all the rain we’ve been getting my husband had to mow last weekend, he didn’t get very close, but never the less a couple took off on us. I’m sure it was quite the show watching us trying to corral the couple back towards the nest. Momma is still visiting, but these bunnies are roaming on a much bigger perimeter. This evening my dog found one between the chain link and privacy fence. I took a picture. When he was just a kit probably only a few days old his nose was skinned back like a child’s knee who had just wiped out. You can see just a little bare mark on the top of his nose, he appears to be doing just fine with growth. At the time his nose appeared bad enough I wasn’t sure if it would affect eating, because of the pain. Thankfully by his size I don’t think he had problems eating. I hope them all well even knowing the dangers they face. I think rabbits have a special place in my heart because we grew up with them as pets and my neighbors raised them. So I hope the best, but I’m kind of excited to have my yard back soon. Thanks for the encouragement and help offered up. 80649EF2-3E90-4AF2-A39D-501CB6EFB4EA.jpeg
 

TreasuredFriend

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Rachel, your pictures and mini blog on the babies growing up is bliss. Thank you for protecting them as best you can! I hope they reach their teenage years and find PLENTY of safe havens to grow to adulthood. Thank your hubby, too, and family members who want the best for these vulnerable sentient beings, Enormous thanks for watching your dog.

Like you, I have a special attachment to lagomorphs b/c of stories heard while growing up - and my years devoted to wildlife rehab. They face so many dangers, and they are completely innocent and unable to fight back.
 

Rachel Schaub

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I wanted to post one last time to wrap everything up. My husband broke down our temporary shelter, there were no bunnies left in the nest and no evidence of any kits that didn’t make it. This just goes to show how resilient wildlife is. Unfortunately there was at least one caught by the neighbors cat over the last week and eaten, remains and cat were hanging out one evening when I arrived home from work. Another evening a bunny was hunkered down in the neighbors yard when we were grilling, there’s hawks, golden eagles that come out in the evenings to feed. I told my husband I couldn’t take watching one swoop in and grabbing it, he ended up hopping back to the brush at the back yard. This is the cycle of life, however unkind it may be, but I was happy to know that they were at least given a chance of life. I hope these posts help anyone that happens to stumble upon a new nest full of kits.
 

TreasuredFriend

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People and their effing outdoor cats. Vulnerable lagomorphs never survive an attack from a loose cat. Thank you for the update. With RHDV2 and the lengthy list of predators that kill any defenseless creature, getting extra help and a chance to live brings inner gratitude.

My admiration for all you did to help the weak and vulnerable.
 

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