Rabbit Focus

Do Rabbits Build Nests If They are Not Pregnant?

Nest building in pregnant rabbits is a common and natural behavior. But what about outside pregnancy? Do rabbits build nests if they are not pregnant?

Do Rabbits Build Nests If They are Not Pregnant?

No, rabbits don’t build nests if they are not pregnant. Female rabbits will only start with nest building the moment they get pregnant. A pregnant female rabbit develops the natural urge of making a nest. They may also start to make a nest if they have a false pregnancy or a phantom pregnancy.

They will tear out their own fur to form the lining and use blankets and hay to create the nest. Pregnant female rabbits will build their nests covered with grasses, twigs, and brush in addition to their fur.

Pregnancy in Rabbits

A female rabbit can have about 1 to 12 rabbits per litter. They may also have up to five litters within the duration of the breeding season.

Rabbits are normally pregnant for 31 days. The baby rabbits, called kits are born in the cozy nests that their mothers built. When kits are born, their eyes are still closed, and they mature after 2 to 3 weeks.

Kits or young rabbits have a very tiny size. The moment they venture outside the nests, the kits will freeze or be confused instead of escaping or running away once they spot a predator for the very first time.

Unfortunately, rabbits don’t always choose a safe nesting spot. Wild rabbits living in urban areas usually make their nests in backyards that household pets or lawnmowers may run over at times. This is why it is always recommended to check for rabbit nests before you start mowing.

How Long Do Rabbits Stay in Their Nest?

Wild rabbits often build their nests near trees or bushes out in open fields as well as in backyards with grasses. You will find baby kits under all the rabbit fur and the patches of dead grass.

The best and easiest way to prevent the risks is to avoid the kits. Rabbit moms usually don’t stay with the kits, which means that you won’t spot the mothers close to the kits once you spot a nest. Mothers usually stay away from the nest in the event that a predator follows her scent. The mother rabbit will nurse its kits only twice a day.

When you stumble upon a rabbit’s nest, just leave it, and keep it covered in the same way it was when you found it. It is recommended that you leave the kits alone. The mother rabbit is most likely nearby, which means that the babies are not abandoned.

You should never try keeping a newborn baby rabbit, nursing it, or keeping an orphaned one because they are still fragile and may die. Once again, the doe is just near the nest to look after her kits, and it wouldn’t make sense to part the babies from their mother.

It is always a better option to let the parents take care of their kits or call a licensed rehabilitator to ensure that the kits receive all the care they need. One more thing you can do is to keep your own pets, your kids, and other wildlife animals from disturbing them.

Baby rabbits leave the nests once they reach the age of three weeks with their size almost the same as that of chipmunks. Once you come across a fully furred chipmunk-sized kit with its ears erect and eyes open hopping around, this indicates that the kit is now ready to move on by itself.

At this point, the kits are not orphaned. It is just that they have now become mature. They no longer require protection and are ready to explore and discover the bigger world around them.

Do Baby Rabbits Leave and Return to the Nest?

Don’t worry if there are months of the year when you see lots of rabbits almost every day. It could be mating season already so coming across baby rabbits during these months is common.

However, most people who find rabbit nests are often unsure of what to do. If this is the case, the best thing you can do is wait and check if the doe is still nearby. If the kit is injured, all you have to do is nurse it and leave it inside the nest.

As mentioned earlier, baby rabbits often leave the nest once they reach three weeks old. They begin venturing outside the nest to feed only to come back before it gets dark. Once kits are already 4 to 5 weeks old, despite looking small, they are already mature enough, ready to move out of the nest and become independent.

The moment kits leave their nest, they will begin to venture further out from the nest. The baby rabbits often stay near the nest for weeks and move out soon to a different neighborhood. Baby bunnies in urban areas often get chased away by cats and dogs, prompting them to move to another area. It is rare for them to return to the same original nest.

Can You Move a Rabbit Nest?

Most people are usually shocked to find rabbit nests on their lawns or yard. The nests of rabbits look like patches of leaves and dead grass in a grid pattern on the shallow ground.

Never disturb a rabbit nest if you come across one by accident. But if you find that the nest is already disturbed, check the kits. If the baby rabbits are doing just fine, just cover them with grass and leave them be. However, you might want to take them to the vet if the babies are injured.

Never move the rabbit nest. People often assume that kits were abandoned when in fact, the mother is just nearby and will return to nurse them. Rabbit moms are intelligent, so they stay away from their babies to avoid getting the attention of predators such as pet cats or dogs. Moving the rabbit nest will only reduce the kits’ chances of survival.

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