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Rabbit or hare

Rabbit or hare

When does a rabbit or hare need help?

In certain situations, (young) wild rabbits and hares should be taken to a sanctuary:

  • If the rabbit burrow has been dug up by a predator.
  • If a cat or dog comes home with a young wild rabbit or young hare, or if a dog or cat has attacked the rabbit or hare.
  • When a litter of rabbits is uncovered by excavation at a construction site.
  • If you are absolutely sure that the mother has been killed, for example by a cat, dog or a vehicle.
  • If the rabbit or hare does not run away when you approach it (with the exception of small hares, they often press themselves flat on the ground when approached).
  • Hares and rabbits that had been injured by a vehicle always need urgent help.

Safe handling and transport
Rabbits and hares often kick with their hind legs, but have a very weak back. So you must support the animal’s lower back when picking it up.
Place the animal in a cardboard box padded with newspapers, hay or a towel on the bottom and close the box securely. A hot water bottle helps to relieve some of the stress. Hares in particular are very sensitive to stress. Cover the cardboard box with a blanket or towel and try to be as quiet as possible. Do not give the animal water or food as this will increase its level of stress and may cause it to choke.

Note: hares and wild rabbits are not (suitable) pets! However tame and sweet they may seem when they are young, they are still wild animals and their instincts take over from a certain age. A hare or wild rabbit that sits in your hand with its eyes closed while being stroked is not enjoying the experience - it is in shock! A wild animal may die from the effects of that shock: so leave it alone and don't touch it unnecessarily.

Found a young rabbit or hare?

When do young rabbits and hares not need help?

  • Young wild rabbits are nidicolous, i.e. they normally stay in the burrow. They are born bald, blind and deaf and have no teeth. The colour of their skin is not pink as in domestic rabbits, but a dark, blueish grey. At birth they weigh about 50 grams. After a few days, their fur begins to grow, after ten days their eyes open and after two weeks their ears stand erect. Young wild rabbits are usually found in groups.
    Seemingly orphaned young rabbit
    : under normal circumstances, you will never find a litter of young wild rabbits, because rabbits give birth to their young and suckle them in a burrow underground. When they are 3 weeks old, the young rabbits come out of their burrow to explore the environment and look for food. So you should leave young rabbits alone, the mother always comes back!
  • Young hares are nidifugous, i.e. they are capable of leaving the borrow shortly after being born. They are born with fur, the eyes are open, the ears are erect and they already have teeth. At birth they weigh about 80 to 100 grams. Young hares are usually found alone, or sometimes in groups of 2 or 3.
    Seemingly orphaned young hare
    : young hares are almost always picked up without reason by ‘concerned’ passers-by. Young hares are only fed once a day by their mother; they spend most of their day lying alone in a meadow, or in a small hole in a field. So leave young hares alone!

Bird sanctuary address
Vogelasiel De Paddestoel
Jan Verfailleweg 620A
1783 BW Den Helder
Telephone: +31 (0)223 - 62 05 86 or +31 (0)657072575 (after closing time)

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De Helderse Vallei has been realized thanks to the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe invests in rural areas.