When Do Baby Rabbits Leave The Nest? Where Do They Go?

Rhea Nischal
Nov 29, 2022 By Rhea Nischal
Originally Published on Oct 13, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Two small rabbits isolated on a white background.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.6 Min

Have you ever seen a small bunny hopping around and wondered if it is old enough to leave its nest?

It would be surprising for you to know that baby rabbits hop away from their nest at the very young age of three to five weeks! But they are not completely independent as they're fed by the mother rabbits once or twice a day.

Baby rabbits can depart their nest, and go alone into the wild, at a very young age of three weeks. At this stage their ears are erect, they can easily hop, their eyes are open, and their size is almost similar to that of a chipmunk.

They grow up very fast and can be seen in open areas once they have left the nest. They do return to their nest at night to be fed by their mothers.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about why do rabbits thumpand why do raccoons wash their food here on Kidadl?

How old are baby rabbits when they leave the nest?

Baby rabbits usually depart from the nest when they are around three to five weeks of age. These babies are not completely on their own as their mother comes to feed them one to two times a day. It is not necessary that if a baby rabbit is spotted on its own, it could be an orphan.

These babies look helpless and tiny but actually, they are ready to live by themselves in the wild very early in their life. Their mothers do come back during dawn and dusk to feed these young animals.

This time is chosen by these bunnies as it is the time when they are able to successfully dodge predators.

One can tell if a baby rabbit is mature enough to be on its own if it is spotted possessing certain physical features.

A baby rabbit is ready to leave the nest when it is three to five weeks old, possesses fur, has open eyes, good motor abilities, erect ears, and can hop efficiently. However, they are not completely independent as they're fed by their mother rabbits once or twice a day.

Do baby rabbits all leave the nest at once?

Young rabbits coming out of their hole in the back yard.

As they are all born together, they stay together in the nest for at least three weeks. It is not necessary for them to leave the nest together.

The mother leaves the baby rabbits alone after they are brought to the world by her so as to avoid attracting predators. However, she keeps in touch with them and keeps coming back to them for the purpose of feeding her baby rabbits.

When the babies are born, they burrow to the bottom of the nest and stay there until it is feeding time. The mother rabbit does not nurse these baby animals.

The eyes of these rabbits open up within 10 days, which is during the second week after birth, and they wean in the third or fourth week.

This is the week when they go out on their own. They still retire to their nest to sleep.

They reside with their family until they are four or five weeks old. If one finds a baby rabbit that may require medical care, they must call a wildlife rehabilitator, or a vet, immediately.

The rabbit could be possibly injured if there is blood on it or has visible wounds, due to possible contact with a pet cat.

One must contact a wildlife rehabilitator even if the rabbit cannot pick itself up and is just lying on the ground. Until the wildlife rehabilitator reaches, one can put the baby rabbit in a small-size box with a heat source nearby to keep the baby rabbit warm as it can get cold quite quickly even during a hot day.

Where do rabbits go when they leave the nest?

When baby rabbits leave their nest, the situation is quite unique and different as compared to other animals. They are not entirely independent as they are visited by their mothers at dusk and dawn. Their nests are also built-in open areas where there is a lesser chance of predators but can bother humans.

These little animals can be seen in a yard or lawn quite commonly. So it is imperative to inspect the yard before mowing it, as often people mow over the nest of the baby rabbits and only realize it until it is too late.

It is also essential to manage the outdoor habits of a pet cat if any as house cats are known to torment these baby rabbits and might even skin them alive!

These cats are extremely dangerous for these wild rabbits. If one finds a baby rabbit that may be orphaned, the first step would be to distance it away from dangerous objects like lawnmowers, kids, or pet cats.

One must not think to keep it as a pet, as it won't even survive a week in captivity.

It is important to contact a wildlife rehabilitator immediately if a rabbit is found in an orphaned state. One must not attempt to help it as it would most probably be illegal if it is a protected species.

If the nest was found disturbed, one can tidy it a bit, ensuring it is still in the same place. One can check if the rabbit is orphaned or not by performing a string test on the nest found.

This test can tell if the mother comes by or not.

The string test can be performed by arranging a string in a tic tac toe pattern. If the pattern is disturbed the next day, 24 hours later, it means the mother dropped by and that the baby rabbit is not an orphan.

however, if the patter remains intact, it implies that the young rabbit is an orphan.

This would be the cue to contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. While handling a wild rabbit, one must be wearing gloves and must cleanse their hands later.

When do baby cottontail rabbits leave the nest?

Cottontails are the most common species of wild rabbits in the United States. They are brown in color and possess white-colored tails.

The baby rabbits of this species grow up quite fast. These young rabbits are known to leave their nest when they are about three weeks old and leave the territory of their mom. The eyes of these babies open ten days after birth when they are about two weeks old.

This species of rabbits build shallow nests made from fur or grass on the ground. The environment is typically grassy and comprises many trees and bushes.

The rabbit nest is often found built in an open, wide space which is a typical nest place for them as they feel they are safe from predators. These rabbits are very smart and have figured out that predators will not search for them in the middle of open space.

However, this may not be the safest location after all, as human activities such as mowing the yard can destroy their nests. Eastern cottontail rabbits of southern Ontario have been observed to be cleverer as it has been observed that the mother rabbit digs a shallow bowl-shaped hole, and consists of grass and wood chips.

She also lines it with leaves, fur from her own body, as well as dry grass.

After the birth of her babies, more fur and dried grass are added so as to cover them up. The babies have no scent and cannot be detected by predators.

The babies are fed by their mom only and can only survive with their mom. The mother is also known to abandon the nest if someone touches it or moves it.

Did You Know...

Mother rabbits cannot lift their babies to shift them to a new location. They are the only mammals that cannot do so!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for when do baby rabbits leave the nest, then why not take a look at when do deer give birth, or riverine rabbit facts.


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Written by Rhea Nischal

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Management

Rhea Nischal picture

Rhea NischalBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Management

A background in Business Administration and Management from MCM DAV College, Rhea has led her to work for her father's global business. However, her passion for content production, where she manages operations to ensure all processes run smoothly. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the piano and spending time with her one-year-old nephew.

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Fact-checked by Gowri Rao

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gowri Rao picture

Gowri RaoBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

With a bachelor's degree in Economics from Krea University, Gowri is a highly skilled data analyst and an expert in regression and causation modeling. Her interests in economic trends, finance, and investment research complement her professional expertise. In addition to her professional pursuits, Gowri enjoys swimming, running, and playing the drums, and she is also a talented tutor.

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