Ehh…What’s up Doc? When someone mentions the word rabbit, the first thing that generally pops to mind is Bugs Bunny appearing from his burrow and uttering his familiar catch phrase. The truth is, the rabbits we see in New Jersey are Eastern Cottontails, and they do not live in burrows.
Instead, when they are not busy foraging for food or avoiding predators, Eastern Cottontails rest in a “form”, which is a shallow depression 4 to 6 inches wide and about 6 to 8 inches long.
Breeding season begins in late January or February with an average gestation period of just 31 days. Before giving birth, the female digs a nest hole. This hole is approximately the size of a salad plate, 3 to 4 inches deep and lined with vegetation and fur from the mother’s belly.
Nests are concealed by grasses and located in open fields, thickets, under shrubs, at the base of trees and yes, in yards.
If you come across and undisturbed nest full of babies and there are no visible injuries, simply leave it alone. The mother is nearby, but to prevent predators from finding her babies, she will only return to the nest once or twice a day to nurse. If you see an injured rabbit or suspect there is a problem, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator immediately.
Rehabilitators for the state of NJ are listed on the NJDFW https://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/bornwild.htm
or contact Antler Ridge wildlife Sanctuary at 973-800-2420