When should I release a cottontail back into the wild #744612 - Ask Extension

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When should I release a cottontail back into the wild #744612

Asked April 16, 2021, 7:48 AM EDT

Our naughty Labrador found a rabbit nest in the ground cover up against our house. Only one survived. It’s eyes we’re still closed and opened four days later so I assume it was 6 days old when we started caring for it. I’ve been feeding it KMR with an eye dropper and moved up to a tiny bottle. I’ve giving it a variety of vegetation (lettuce, clover, grass) and it gobbles it up. I didn’t weigh it until a few days ago but it is gaining nicely over the last few days (49 grams, 51, 54, 57, 61, 71). How long do I give it Kitten Milk Replacement? Should I switch to water? When should it be released? Thank you

Washtenaw County Michigan

Expert Response

Thank you for your inquiry, but unfortunately we do not have a professional wildlife rehabilitator through the MSU Extension Ask an Expert program. It sounds like you have done an excellent job caring for this rabbit, against all odds! Since you are in Washtenaw County, I recommend contacting the Michigan Friends of Wildlife organization. Glancing at the page it looks like they don't currently have a rehabilitator specializing in rabbits, but it can't hurt to call; hopefully at least they can guide you on when to release the rabbit. They also provide some general information on rehabbing rabbits and also through this group.

If the above linked information doesn't help, the Michigan DNR provides a comprehensive list of statewide wildlife rehabilitators and you can find several specific to Washtenaw County.

Best of luck!

Clay Wilton Replied April 16, 2021, 9:27 AM EDT

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