Skip to main content

First, get the baby rabbit contained

To keep the baby rabbit safe while you figure out how to help them, put them in a small cardboard box with a soft towel or t-shirt. Even when indoors, or on a warm day, babies can get cold or even hypothermic, so give them a heat source:

  • a clean sock filled with dry, uncooked rice, and microwaved for one minute
  • a plastic bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid from the recycling bin filled with hot tap water and wrapped in a tea towel or face cloth (secured to the box so that it does not squish the baby)
  • an electric heating pad set to “LOW” and placed under half of the box.
  • chemical hand warmers (e.g. Hot Paws) that stay warm for up to 8 hours

Do not give the baby any food or water – right now keeping them warm, dark, and quiet is more important.

CAUTION: Baby rabbits, even more than other wild animals, are EXTREMELY high-stress. This makes it even more important to keep them dark and quiet, and not to give them food or water.  DON’T PET THEM, DON’T FEED THEM, and keep people and pets away while you figure out how to get them help. 

Is the baby rabbit injured?

If a baby rabbit (or any other animal) has been caught by a cat, even if you don’t see any obvious injuries, they need immediate medical attention. Cats have a lot of bacteria in their mouths, and even a tiny puncture wound can cause a deadly infection. Keep the rabbit dark and quiet, don’t give them any food or water, and contact a wildlife rehabilitator right away.

Please note that Toronto Wildlife Centre is sometimes at capacity for common baby species, like cottontails. If you have received an email stating that we are full for cottontails, you will need to seek assistance from another wildlife rehabilitator. Please see the OMNRF list of authorized wildlife rehabilitators and/or the map on our website for more information.

Cats and wildlife

If you have a pet cat that goes outdoors, please think about the wildlife – like baby cottontails – that may lose their life as a result. Consider walking your cat on a leash, building an outdoor enclosure (“catio”), or provide direct supervision (e.g. within arm’s reach of the cat) when the cat is outdoors.

We all love cats at Toronto Wildlife Centre, but we are against allowing them to roam freely outdoors unsupervised for the welfare of wildlife, as well as the welfare of the cat. Please visit our page on keeping cats and wildlife safe for more information.

If it’s a neighbour’s cat, talk to them and explain the situation. Share the above webpage with them, too. They might be willing to alter their behaviours if it means saving a baby rabbit’s life.

MYTH! If you touch a baby rabbit, its mother will probably not abandon it. Rabbits are excellent moms. All they want is their baby back.

Temporary care

While you are waiting to hear back from a wildlife rehabilitator, keep the baby rabbit contained in a dark, quiet place. Make sure it has a heat source. Don’t give it any food or water until you have spoken to a rehabilitator. Further temporary care instructions can be found here.