We admitted the 1st infant Eastern cottontail rabbit of the year this afternoon! Eastern cottontails are the most common infant mammal we admit, with Eastern grey squirrels coming in 2nd. The baby we admitted today weighed in at only 31 grams, and was furless with eyes closed. He/she also had remnants of fetal membranes on the skin (the white patches), which means he/she likely was born in the last 12-24 hours.
Eastern cottontails breed from March through early fall. They prefer to nest in areas of high grass for concealment, and will scratch out a shallow depression rather than burrowing. The nest is lined with fur and dry grass. The gestation period is about 28 days. There are usually 2-4 litters per year, each with 3-8 young kits. Young rabbits are born blind, naked and helpless but grow rapidly, leaving the nest after only 2-3 weeks. They are weaned and totally independent at 4-5 weeks.
If you think you have found a nest of baby bunnies in your yard or garden, please ensure that the mother has truly abandoned them before bringing them to WRC. Learn more on our FAQs. Be sure to check out this great WCCO news interview with our vet tech Katie from last spring regarding bunny nests.