If you experience an actual emergency with a wild cottontail or a cottontail nest, please don’t try to raise baby bunnies at home. They need an experienced, licensed wildlife rehabilitator to receive proper care. Cottontails are delicate, and they are difficult to rehabilitate. Their needs change daily, as does their diet and regimen of maintenance.
Many websites offer care advice, and much of the information given is entirely wrong.
For example, many sites instruct to feed baby bunnies KMR, a kitten milk replacer. Kitten milk is completely different in composition from cottontail milk and will cause a multitude of growth problems.
Milk composition differs from species to species. Average cottontail milk is composed of 35.2% solids, 12.5% protein and 18.4% fat. It is extremely rich and has a high level of fat for a fast growing herbivore. Kitten milk is formulated for carnivores that develop much slower and is composed of 25.4% solids, 11.1% protein, and only 10.9% fat. Kitten milk doesn’t even come close to meeting the nutritional requirements for a cottontail rabbit.
You can find local wildlife rehabilitators quickly by using online search engines: Just type your state and the term “wildlife rehabilitation” in the search box. Calls to your state wildlife agencies, local veterinarians, animal shelters, and even 911 will often have successful results.
While searching for professional help, keep the bunny warm and in a dark and quiet location. Don’t give it any food or water. Warmth, dark and quiet are all the temporary help they need.