A rabbit is naturally a very social prey animal. Witnessing wild rabbits in your yard or garden has a playful effect that is enjoyed by all. If you manage to befriend a wild rabbit, you may just earn yourself a very loving companion. While reaching this level might take time and attention, the reward is worth it. In this article, we share a few tips on how to befriend a wild rabbit.
How to Identify a Wild Rabbit?
While most wild rabbits look cute, cuddly, and friendly, they can be wild and dangerous. They live in a hostile environment, which makes them extremely alert, cautious, and sometimes dangerous. Some features that differentiate them from domestic rabbits include the following:
- Most rabbits have a brownish-grey coat with a dash of white fur on the tail’s underside.
- Wild rabbits are smaller in size, usually measuring between 30 to 40 cm in length.
- These bunnies weigh 1.5 to 2 kg
- They have a 9 years life span, depending on the hostility of their environment.
Can You Tame a Wild Rabbit?
Wild rabbits can be tamed. However, you will need a lot of food and patience to achieve this. Plus, it is a lot easier to tame them when they are young. That being said, taming a wild rabbit is illegal in most states in the U.S. and most countries throughout the world.
The only exception is if you find a young or injured wild rabbit that needs medical or first aid treatment. But, you will still need certain licenses or permits from the Department of Environmental Protection to keep the wild rabbit.
If you find a wild rabbit that is in an unfavorable environment or that needs help, you can try to befriend the rabbit and help with its relocation.
Cautions to Take Before Befriending a Wild Rabbit
The idea of earning the affection and trust of a wild animal is any pet lover’s dream. However, you should keep in mind that no matter how cute, fluffy and harmless they look, remember that they are wild animals. They have a natural instinct to fight or flee whenever they feel scared or in danger.
Be careful not to get attacked by one, as they carry diseases that can cause serious harm if you are attacked. Also, they are quick to fight back if your presence threatens them.
How to Befriend a Wild Rabbit?
There are two main methods for befriending a wild bunny.
- Set a trap
- Wait for it to come to you
Set a Humane Trap
Humane rabbit traps help ensure the wild rabbit’s safety. You can purchase such traps from your local pet store.
How It Works
Put food as bait in the trap and then place it along the rabbit’s path. Once the rabbit grabs the food, the door will close. A wild rabbit that has been caught, and is unable to escape, will become extremely scared and aggressive. You will need to give her time to calm down. You can do this by:
Cover the trap: You can use any piece of cloth to cover the trap. This will help calm her down. Leave the cage untouched for about 30 minutes before taking it inside. Once inside, transfer the rabbit to its new cage.
Now, do not expect any gratitude or affection from the bunny. They might try to bite you. But this behavior usually comes out of fear as they are not used to close human interactions. You will be spending the next couple of days, maybe even months, trying to earn their trust. Just do not give up.
Put them in a quiet room: Some households can get a little loud and hectic at times. You need to set up the wild rabbit in a quiet environment with little to no distractions. This way, the bunny will learn to trust you at its own pace.
Get some boxes: These toys provide your rabbits a place to hide when they feel scared or anxious. They also give them a sense of control over the situation. It is a good idea to have several boxes in the rabbit’s room so that they have more areas to hide whenever they feel scared.
Leave a treat: The goal of this is to get the wild rabbit to associate you with good things and food. For this to work, make sure the rabbit sees you putting the treats or food down. Repeat this process as many times as necessary to encourage your bunny to come out and interact with you.
Sit with your rabbit: Once they start showing themselves to you more, quietly sit down next to their hutch. Place the treats near you and wait for the rabbit to come out of hiding. Hang out with the rabbit for up to 30 minutes without trying to pet or pick them up.
Be still and let the rabbit come to you: Once the bunny gets comfortable with having you around, it will start to come towards you out of its own free will. At this stage, the wild rabbit will still be squirmish. So try to be as quiet and as still as possible.
Reward curious behavior: If he comes up to you, reward him with treats for being brave. This will encourage them to come to you without much hesitation.
Start petting them: Once they start being comfortable with you, gently pat them on the head when giving them a treat.
Finally, now that you’ve gained your wild rabbit’s trust, you must try to keep it. Also, remember that he is still a wild animal. So you do not want to startle him by picking him up all the time. Spend as much time with your bunny as possible, and always let him initiate touch.
Wait for the Wild Rabbit to Come to You
Do Not Chase It
When looking to befriend wild rabbits, you must be ready to practice patience with them. Chasing them or displaying any threatening behavior like talking too loudly only sends their instinct to run into overdrive, pushing them further away. The key is to let them come to you
Provide Some Food
Food provides an effective way to lure wild rabbits to you. Food and water can significantly speed up the process of taming a wild rabbit. Providing wild rabbits with a regular food source will make them feel more at home, allowing them to drop their guard. Also, rabbits are naturally very curious animals, and their love for food is unmatched.
As long as they feel safe around you, their curiosity will draw them to you as they try to inspect the food. The most effective foods to lure wild rabbits include leafy veggies and hay. You can also throw in some sweet fruits. Avoid citrus fruits like pineapples and lemons. Also, make sure to limit the number of fruits you feed them as they can cause them digestive distress.
Put Out and Leave a Trail of Food
Leave a trail of treats for the wild rabbit to follow. This trail allows the rabbit to decide how much proximity they are comfortable with. Also, make sure to always be available when providing the food so that they get used to you. Do not make any sudden movements toward them as this will only startle them. They might also perceive this as an attack, causing all your efforts to befriend them to prove to be futile.
Avoid Certain Scents
Rabbits have a strong sense of smell which helps them detect when danger is approaching. If you own other pets like cats and dogs, make sure you do not go near the rabbit cage smelling like them. Cats and dogs are predators of wild rabbits. Rabbits will get their scent causing them to hesitate to approach you. Ideally, you should wash your hands and even change your clothes when trying to build trust in a wild rabbit.
Wait for the Bunny to Come to You
After a period of feeding the wild rabbits regularly, the bunny will start sensing that you are not a danger but a friend. Slowly reveal yourself to the wild bunny, and if luck is on your side, they might come to you willingly. If not, do not stop providing them with food.
Repeat this process as many times as possible until they come to you. Also, rabbits can sense emotion. So always approach them with gentle love and affection. Avoid going near them when you are angry.
Try Touch It Slowly
Once the wild rabbits start being comfortable with your presence, gently talk to them in a slow affectionate tone, especially when they try to approach you. Let them smell your hands to be sure. Once they come to you, slowly and gently place your hand on the rabbit’s back. If they try to sniff your hand, let them. If the rabbit does not hop away, this is your cue to touch it.
If they run away, do not despair. Be patient and keep trying and repeating this step until you earn their trust.
Challenges You Might Face When Trying to Befriend a Wild Rabbit
When trying to befriend wild rabbits, remember that rabbits are prey animals. They think that any creature in their surrounding is a predator trying to kill them. So it will take time before they can fully trust you.
So do not give up if, after a couple of tries, you still have not gained the rabbit’s trust. Some common challenges you may face when trying to befriend a wild rabbit include:
It Might Take a Long Time
Wild rabbits are surrounded by danger at all times. To stay safe, they are extremely cautious about everything around them, including humans. Even if you offer them food, treats, water, and shelter, this is not a guarantee that you will gain their trust. This exercise requires both time and patience.
Wild Rabbits Can Be Aggressive
As mentioned above, wild bunnies have the instinct to fight or flee. So you have to be careful not to force the wild rabbit to fight you. Holding and lifting a wild rabbit can trigger aggressive behavior. So unless you are 100% sure you have gained the rabbit’s trust, do not try to touch or lift it.
You Might Never Gain the Trust or Befriend a Wild Rabbit
Different rabbits have different personalities. Some rabbits are more trusting and welcoming than others. This is why sometimes, no matter what you do, you cannot get to befriend a wild rabbit; sometimes, it is just not going to happen. But if you are lucky, you may find a more trusting wild rabbit that will be willing to get close to you.
They Carry Dangerous Diseases
If your house is home to other animals, bringing in a wild rabbit can be dangerous as they carry diseases that they can pass on to your pets. They also carry pests like ticks and fleas, which they can easily transfer to other pets.
They Are Not Easy to Care for
If you think that a pet rabbit is easily scared and anxious, try handling a wild rabbit. Their wild-acquired instincts make it harder to care for them as pet animals. They exhibit these wild traits even after housing them for many years. They are also less affectionate than domesticated rabbits
How to Take Care of a Wild Rabbit?
If you manage to befriend a wild rabbit and decide to take care of it, do so with caution.
- Avoid close contact with them at first.
- If your bunny is angry or cranky, you can keep him in a cage. While there, be cautious about putting your hands or standing too close to the cage.
- Create a suitable area in the cage for the rabbit to stay comfortably.
- Clean the cage at regular intervals. A clean pen reduces germs and diseases significantly. If possible, use a cage with a grated bottom to ensure the rabbit waste falls off the cage, and your rabbit’s resting area is always clean.
- If the rabbit is an adult, feed it hay or grass. If you capture a small rabbit, kitten replacement milk is a suitable alternative. Do not give cow’s milk to your rabbit s they are lactose intolerant. As soon as the wild kits open their eyes, you can slowly introduce them to hay such as timothy, alfalfa, oat hat hay, plain alfalfa pellets, and veggies like dandelion greens, carrot tops, and Italian parsley.
Overall, when trying to befriend a wild rabbit, expect that its first instinct is to run because, like other rabbits, they fear humans. You must maintain proper distance until you are sure that the rabbit trusts you.