Hoppy Bunny Day | By Doreen Damm …..
With bunnies and chicks the focus of many Easter baskets tomorrow, we wanted to take the time to wish everyone a fun fill holiday and remind you that sometimes nature needs a little help.
We currently have a few baby rabbits in our care. It is very common to find little brown batches in your yard this time of year and with further investigation discover it’s not brown spot but a spot of baby bunnies. Mothers will often nest in grasses and during the day, leave the nest unattended on purpose. We immediately think something is wrong but this is nature way of making sure predators do not find the nest. The best thing we can do is leave it alone till the babies are old enough to leave the nest. I know it doesn’t make sense to us, leave your young alone at this vulnerable age, but by leaving the nest during the day, they are doing the best thing to keep those precious little babies safe.
There are always times when something does go wrong and you may notice the mother does not return. After all, rabbits are part of the food chain and also, sadly, do get hit by cars or attacked by domestic animals following their natural instincts. When that is the case, we are always here to lend Mother Nature a hand.
One of our volunteers is currently doing just that. Raising three orphaned baby bunnies who will be released as soon as they can survive on their own in the wild. This is a job for an experienced wildlife rehabilitator, while the temptation is great to care for these adorable little balls of fur, you need to call us right away for them to have their best chance at surviving without their mother.
Florida has two species of native rabbits, the eastern cottontail and the smaller marsh rabbit. Both are herbivores and breed nearly year round with cottontails peak being between February through September and marsh rabbits December through June.
The cottontail (sylvilagus floridanus) is grayish-brown with a distinctive white “powder puff” tail. It measures 14 to 17 inches in length and weighs two to four pounds. Usually found in thick brush, weed and briar patches near strips of forest land and the edges of fields. They are most active in the early morning and at dusk.
The marsh rabbit (sylvilagus palustris) is slightly smaller than the cottontail with a small gray-brown tail and coarser hair. Another way to tell them apart, marsh rabbits will often walk rather than hop as most rabbits do. They are strong swimmers thus usually found close to fresh or brackish water. They are most active at night, the same time as many of the marsh rabbit’s predators — owls, foxes, bobcats and alligators — are active as well causing them to be always vigilante to their surroundings.
Enjoy wildlife, make sure to sign up for our blog / newsletters and to stay up to date on our cases, you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube Channel. Don’t forget to tune into Otter Cam and watch the fun antics of our river otters as they prepare for their lives, living free in our local waters.
The fastest way to reach us is by texting (813) 598-5926 and we will dispatch a volunteer as soon as possible.