Rescued cottontail bunny as a pet?

Discussion in 'Rescue Me!' started by Stacy-MO, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. Apr 16, 2012 #1

    Stacy-MO

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    I rescued a newborn cottontail bunny from my yard when my dog found and killed 5 of the 7. I rescued two, one died. The bunnies were hairless, I'm guessing I got them at 1 day of age. "Clover" is now almost 3 weeks old and thriving. I have given this bunny formula, probiotics and centropes, the whole 9 yards. He is now taking formula twice a day and eating greens. Our intent was to release but he is very tame I'm afraid he would be killed immediately. He is also half the size he should be. We are thinking the only chance of survival is to keep him as a pet but of course I keep reading that this is not a good idea. Can this be done?

    He (I think it's a he) crawls in my hand every time I hold it out, licks me like crazy, we are obviously in love with this little guy.

    Any advice would be appreciated
     
  2. Apr 16, 2012 #2

    saidinjester

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    I've heard its not a good idea - but I think in rare cases it can work. I watched some videos on youtube of different people with pet cottontails. In my opinion, you have to just see how it goes, he may seem tame now and then not so much as he matures. Or you could have a rare case when he could end up as a pet. I think only time will tell.
     
  3. Apr 16, 2012 #3

    caustin4

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    My boyfriend has a cottontail as a pet rabbit and he seems just like any other pet rabbit. I think a lot of it has to do with handling them at a young age. His rabbit is quicker, more agile, and has more "rabbit street smarts" than other rabbits, but loves being kept as a pet. The cottontail is way friendlier than his other domestic rabbit. If you wait too long to release the rabbit his chances of survival will decrease enormously. He will be to used to life as a pet and will not be able to fend for himself in the wild.
     
  4. Apr 17, 2012 #4

    Korr_and_Sophie

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    It kind of sounds like he may be a domestic rabbit. Rabbits are born naked and start to get fur a few days after birth. Hares are born fully furred. There are domestic rabbits who have the 'wild' colouring, so it can be a bit confusing if you don't know too much about the differences.

    Do you have pictures of him? It would be much easier to try to determine if he is actually a hare or is a rabbit.
     
  5. Apr 17, 2012 #5

    EileenH

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    I'm a wildlife rehabber, and know enough by now that I can't talk people out of doing what they want to do.

    I will just never understand why people want to keep a wildrabbit as a pet, when it deserves to be wild, when there are soooooooooooooooo many domestic rabbits sitting in shelters that would just love to have a home, and probably will never get one.
     
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  6. Apr 17, 2012 #6

    Elliot

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    EileenH wrote:
    Then you should also realize that at some point ALL bunnies were wild. It isn't like she went out looking to get one from the wild. This baby needed a home and someone to care for him as much as any other bunny. This wild bunny did not have the normal ability to learn from his mommy and siblings. ...just my 2 cents.
     
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  7. Apr 17, 2012 #7

    LindseyG

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    Korr_and_Sophie wrote:
    cottontail rabbits are born bald just like domestic rabbits.
    [​IMG]

    It could work out that the rabbit is tame or it can be that the rabbit grows up and is a little wild. The cottontail that I raised from a baby grew up and was very flighty as a 4 month old, she didn't want hands near her and would flip out when humans came close, I released her into the wild. I had a friend though with a cottontail as a house bunny. She had run of the house with litterbox and all and loved her human family so it might work out and might not just depending on the personality of the rabbit.
     
  8. Apr 17, 2012 #8

    JadeIcing

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    Keep in mind that if you keep it and it was to get sick most gets can't treat it.
     
  9. Apr 18, 2012 #9

    LakeCondo

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    But still, even without vet treatment, the odds are that it would live longer than in the wild.
     
  10. Apr 18, 2012 #10

    melbaby80

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    Elliot wrote:
    I'm going to agree with carole on this one. Fact is she rescued him from doom if you read the original post. She is also stating how tame he is now. Is it harmful that she intends on keeping him? No because he is 1 out of a million. Yes you can keep a wild baby rabbit. Its been done over and over by people from all over. Fact is a lot of the "wild" rabbits out there are mixed with domesticated rabbits too. I have seen domesticated rabbits wild here, (white and black coloring not your normal browns). This baby bunny was not taught by his mom or siblings as to how fend for himself regardless of what little instinct he has.
     
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  11. Apr 18, 2012 #11

    Elliot

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    :hearts:those babies!
     
  12. Apr 18, 2012 #12

    EileenH

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    I'm not going to get into an argument here. But this baby did not need a home, it needed to get to a rehabilitator that would have gotten him in with others of its kind so it could grow up normally and be released to the wild.

    I know there are people here who have kept cottontails, but most of those had permanent injuries that precluded them from release. If this rabbit does not have an injury, there is no reason it could not have lived a normal life out in the wild.

    Right now it is a baby; all babies are "tame". That will change. Additionally, if this rabbit ever has any medical issues, it will not be easy to find a vet to treat it, as it is not a domestic rabbit. Most vets will not treat wildlife.

    I am surprised at this forum for not seeing the difference between a wild rabbit and a domestic one.
     
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  13. Apr 18, 2012 #13

    EileenH

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    In re-reading the original post, Stacy was initially asking for advice regarding release, so I will reply to her question.

    Most young wildlife appear "tame" when youngbut will wild up once handfeeding ceases and they are more self-sufficient. There is still a great chance your little one has a normal chance for release.

    Once the rabbit is no longer being handfed, offer food as you have been (greens, apple pieces, oats) and don't handle her anymore except for cleaning the cage.
    You will be surprised at how quickly he/she will wild up.

    I've been rehabbing for 10 years, and have only seen one cottontail be questionable to release because it was tame, and even in that case, it was ready to go by mid-summer.

    Good luck!
     
  14. Apr 18, 2012 #14

    Elliot

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    Thanks for explaining...makes sense.:big kiss:
     
  15. Apr 22, 2013 #15

    Bandit8

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    Very good read. thanks
     
  16. May 5, 2013 #16

    Nancy McClelland

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    Without seeing pics or being there, I'm not about to speculate on whether or not it is a cotton tail or "wild" rabbit. The only thing I do know for sure is that we need to give our bunnies the best life we can and also use a lot of decorum on the forum.
     
  17. May 6, 2013 #17

    TuckerandGusGus

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    Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck, and we would love to be kept updated on this!!! If you have any pictures of your baby we'd love to see them! Good luck, I hope it works out, whether you decide to release, or you decide to keep!!! <3 I know it'd be hard for me to release, too.

    Edit: I just realized this posting was over a year old!! I wonder what you ended up doing; & how the bun is doing now if you decided to keep her??
     
  18. May 6, 2013 #18

    MatherRabbit

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    I would also like to know how the bunny did. Did he grow up as a much loved family pet? Was he released to be a wild bunny? If you managed to raise him from only a day old or so, you did a marvelous job! Baby bunnies are so fragile - wild or domestic.

    We also rescued a cottontail that just could NOT stay out of the street. His life span would have been hours at the most because he ran back and forth across a busy street without stopping...back and forth and back and forth. Cars were swerving, but it could not have lasted forever. Today, he is a happy healthy 5-year-old who has the run of the house. He still runs back and forth for hours every night, just across the hearth instead of the street. I am not sure we could call him "tame" even today. He was totally wild as an infant (I think about 4 weeks old) and is only slightly tamer today. If I am the only one in the room and the tv is off, he will come and chase a ball for me and let me cuddle him for a few minutes. He will eat treats out of my husband's hand as well as mine - if it is totally quiet in the room.

    He loves to sit on my shoulder in the car and look out the window. He goes on high alert when we pass the local Sonic, because he knows that if we go there, he will get a marachino cherry. If we pass by without stopping, I get a really sad look. (How could you pass right by?) I am guessing he must be part homing pigeon, because he does not even notice other Sonics.

    He has been to our local vet. There was no problem with treatment. He enjoys his furry rabbit sisters, but does not really spend a lot of time interacting with them. He is about the same size as the other male cottontails in our yard, but his coat is much shinier!

    Should I have released him? Some would say so, but he would have died that same day. Out of the many pets we have had over the years, he is the family favorite. His picture is posted - just in case you would like to take a look!
     
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  19. May 6, 2013 #19

    JBun

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    I'm with you! I think it's much better to rescue a rabbit that for sure would be dead without intervention, even if it is wild. I can understand the reasoning of not wanting people to take wild rabbits as pets, but technically speaking, our domesticated rabbits originated from wild rabbits as well.

    I can't believe your little guy can recognize the sonic. That is just too funny that he knows they have yummy treats. Just like a little kid, he knows where the good stuff is :)
     
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  20. May 6, 2013 #20

    Bunnylova4eva

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    Sounds like you are doing a beautiful job with this little bunny. Speaking from experience, most cottontails and sweet and tame when you're rehabbing them until 3-4 weeks; at that time they start getting a bit spooky and skittish. My first full litter I rehabbed was very temping to keep. But, as they grew, I saw their energy and how wild they really were. And, once they're in the wild, they are so happy (and fun to see enjoyed their true environment! :) )

    I would do your best to get it ready to be realeased but if it somehow seems too tame where it will not survive because its' not afraid of people or animals then it can't be realeased. Bear in mind, in most places it is not legal to keep a wild animal as a pet, and most vets will not and cannot legally treat it if it is ever sick.

    So, I know it's very tough to do; with each litter I rehab, there's always that temping point to keep them, but I always have to remember they were born to be wild and are so much happier that way. The only exception in my mind is a special needs bunny who had a perminent injury that will impair him from surviving or thriving in the wild.
     

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