A little over a week ago we came into posession of a baby wild rabbit whose nest had been damaged by a lawnmower and his sibling killed. Yesterday we released him back into the wild.
The last 10 days have been interesting. For the first few days we weren't sure if he was going to make it, but he rallied and then thrived. I was successful in nursing him and for the last two days he had been eating nothing but grasses and plants we took from the area of his nest. At that point rabbits tend to leave the nest to fend on their own and our plan was always to get him to that point. He was alert, active, and strong so there was no need for us to continue our care.
Our neighborhood has many cats wandering outside and the area he was found is near a busy road. While that may be a natural risk for rabbits, we didn't want to put him back in that dangerous situation. Not far from us is a large city park with a heavily wooded central area where a herd of deer lives. Though the park is a busy one there are plenty of quiet areas and lots of wildlife, as well as plenty of food. We felt that this would be a good new home for him and took him there as a family.
My wife and kids hated leaving him there and I'll admit that it tugged at my heartstrings as well. We put him under a canopy of short brush so he would be hidden from predators, not far from where we saw some deer. We said a prayer over him, turning him back over to God's care. We had been blessed to have him for a short while, and he certainly would have died without intervention, but he wasn't ours to keep and belonged in nature. Still, it wasn't easy seeing him huddled there under the leaves, not wanting to move.
I'm certainly not cut out to routinely do wildlife rehabilitation and only took this case because there wasn't any other choice. The closest licensed rehabilitator is around 30 minutes from me, and I recently spoke to a client who had called them about a baby bird and they would only take it if it was injured. I would take this on again if necessary, but I certainly hope it won't be. It was a great experience but one I'm not eager to repeat.
Now we wonder how the bunny is doing. My kids hope that our Thumper has been able to find his Bambi since there are abundant deer at the park. I think about him and hope that he is adjusting well and is doing well on his own. Though it is unlikely, maybe one day we'll be on the walking trail in the park and will see a little brown rabbit peeking out at us from the grass.