JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Rabbit mating season is upon us and that means you could have babies in your yard.
A rabbit’s nest can be hard to find — unless you know what you’re looking for.
Eastern Cottontails, the most common rabbit species in the United States, reproduce throughout the spring and summer, typically starting in mid-March and nesting through mid-September.
Rabbits will build a shallow nest of grass and fur in grassy areas near bushes or trees and often right out in the open.
These nests tend to look like patches of dead grass, or dead spots, in your yard. Underneath these patches will be the babies, called kittens. They are covered up in order to stay protected until they are ready to leave.
You may be surprised that a rabbit would build a nest in the middle of a yard, but it is quite ingenious because most predators will not venture into an open space, according to The Clay Humane Society.
The Clay Humane Society offers these tips:
Check your yard before mowing since the rabbits are in shallow nests. You can easily mow the “top” off their nest, possibly injuring babies. Do not attempt to mow within 10 feet of a rabbit’s nest if there are babies present. You can protect a nest during mowing by placing a plastic lattice laundry basket upside down over the nest and then remove after mowing. Leave the nest area as undisturbed as possible while the young rabbits grow.
Never chase a rabbit to capture it. The stress of being chased can be dangerous to a baby rabbit. Rabbits are a high-stress species prone to a condition called capture myopathy, which is caused by chase and stress. Capture myopathy can lead to damage to internal organs and even death.
Never give food or water to injured or orphaned wildlife. Inappropriate food or feeding techniques can lead to sickness or death. Baby rabbits have particularly sensitive stomachs and require a special diet. Cow’s milk will make them sick.
Homeowners are also urged to isolate the area and protect the nest from children and family pets.
Rabbits will generally depart their nest within three weeks, so maybe let those weeds grow for a while.
(Below is a photo of a rabbit nest.)