Cottontails don’t generally nest in burrows or dens, but in shallow depressions right in the middle of a forest of lawn. Predators are everywhere, but these babies stay safe while hidden in plain sight! That’s because mother cottontails have an impressive technique for keeping their babies hidden. Unlike other mammals that lie with their young as much as possible, a mother cottontail will simply stand over her nest to nurse her young twice per day— once at dawn and once at dusk— and will scamper away. The babies, which have no scent of their own, are so still, quiet, and small that they usually aren’t discovered by predators until they’re old enough to leave the nest. An absentee mom isn’t a sign that baby cottontails have been orphaned, but that she is doing a good job keeping them hidden.
All wild animals have the best possible chance of survival if they’re raised in the wild by their own mothers. Please don’t kidnap healthy baby bunnies! Mom is taking care of them and will be home at dusk.