As you start to prepare your backyard for warmer weather this spring, keep an eye out for
increased wildlife activity. Our yards are a common place for urban wildlife to have and raise
their babies. Mother rabbits in particular love to make their nests in the tall grass our yards
Our friends at Skedaddle Humane Wildlife have some helpful suggestions.
It is important to be aware of how to identify nests with babies inside before you begin any yard
maintenance this spring. Raking, aerating or cutting a lawn can cause serious injury to a nest
hidden in the lawn. Before getting started with your spring lawn maintenance, walk around your
property carefully and look for the following signs that a nest of baby rabbits is present:
- Dry patch of grass.
- Patches of leaves or fur.
- Nests may be located under trees, under bushes or in the middle of the lawn.
- An adult rabbit is coming and going from your yard often.
Just because you have found unaccompanied babies does not mean they are abandoned, most
often their mother is off collecting food and will return shortly after. If the young rabbits in your
yard have open eyes, perked up ears and are about four to five inches in length, they are
independent from their mother and do not need your help. If the nest you find has babies with
closed eyes and are about 2 to 3 inches long, they are still dependent on their mother. The best
thing for all baby wildlife is to be cared for by their mother in the wild, which is why it is important
to give the mother time to return before you begin any further steps to help the babies.
A great way to know if the mother is caring for these babies is to do what is called the “string
test”. Place several pieces of light yarn over the nest in a tic-tac-toe pattern and take a photo. If
the string pattern has moved the next day, it means their mother has been feeding and caring
for them. If the strings are in the same place the next day, use the following steps to keep the
- Keep your pets indoors.
- Do not place food or water near the nest to avoid attracting predators.
- Avoid the area until the mother returns.
These tips can be used for any species of baby wildlife you find in your backyard. Baby squirrels
and baby birds without a nest may require a temporary insulated box to keep them warm while
they wait for their mother to return.
After 24 hours, if you still see the babies on their own, it is time to contact a wildlife rehabilitation
centre in your area. Wildlife rescues and rehabilitators will provide you with the best advice on
the next steps.