How to Care for a Baby Cottontail Rabbit


Just like any other newborn animal, a baby cottontail rabbit needs a lot of attention and care. If the rabbit is with its mother, there is not a lot to do. She will take care of feeding and rearing the young rabbit. However, if the baby was abandoned, or for some other reason its mother is not in the picture, you can take over if you do things the right way. Just remember that mother always knows best.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic mixing bowl
  • Tissues or cotton balls
  • Heating pad (optional)
  • Kitten formula
  • Liquid pediatric vitamins
  • Heavy cream
  • Teaspoon
  • Microwave
  • Eyedropper
  • Bottle cap
  • Small water dish
  • Green food (grass, dandelions, lettuce)
  • Rabbit pellets
  • Rabbit cage


Take your plastic mixing bowl and fill it with tissues, cotton balls or another soft material that will cushion the baby and keep it warm. If it is very cold in your home, say below 68 degrees, stick a heating pad in the bottom of the bowl and put it on the lowest setting. The best place to keep the bowl is on the floor, so when the rabbit begins to jump it won’t get hurt. Put it in a small room, like the bathroom or pantry so the rabbit can’t get out. Keep pets and children away.

Mix the formula to feed your rabbit. Take 1 tsp. of kitten formula and mix it with 3 tsp. of warm (not too hot to touch) water. Then add one drop of liquid pediatric vitamins and 1 tsp. of heavy cream. Stir the formula and microwave it for 10 seconds. Then feed it to the rabbit using an eyedropper. If your rabbit still has its eyes closed, feed it two droppers full every three hours, except for overnight. Feed an older baby three droppers or more, depending on how much it will take. Always sit the rabbit upright before feeding so the formula doesn’t flood its lungs.

Add greenery, such as dandelions, clover and lettuces, to the rabbit's bowl. Also introduce grass from outside that is not treated with chemical fertilizers. After using formula for a week or so after the rabbit has opened its eyes, encourage the rabbit to eat the plants instead. Stop the eyedropper feedings and leave a little formula in a bottle cap or other small dish. Don’t pull the formula from the baby rabbit altogether until you’re sure the rabbit is eating well on its own (when its belly is round and plump). Then replace the dish of formula with a dish of lukewarm water. Add commercial rabbit pellets for some extra nutrition.

Clean the rabbit’s bowl daily so its food doesn’t get contaminated with waste. Switch to a rabbit cage when the baby reaches one month of age and remove the heating pad.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is hard to tell how your baby rabbit is doing if you have little experience with these animals. Take it to a vet or wildlife rehab center and have it checked for medical problems as soon as possible.
  • Don't handle your rabbit too much if you plan on releasing it into the wild. You want it to have a healthy fear of humans and predators. The infant mortality rate is quite high for baby cottontail rabbits. Even with the best care, they may not survive to adulthood.

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