Desert Cottontail Rabbit: SB Wildlife Care Network’s Patient of the Week

Patient #275 of 2022: Desert cottontail
Status: Released

The first baby bunnies of the year have arrived! Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network has received over twenty rabbits since the start of 2022, including brush rabbits and desert cottontails. Patient #275 is a desert cottontail rabbit brought into care from Ojai after its nest was destroyed. Luckily the bunny had few health complications aside from moderate dehydration and emaciation. The animal was provided food, fluids, and supportive care, and after twelve days, it was released back into the wild!

Rabbits are some of the most common patients SBWCN receives each year. Many of the bunnies brought into the facility have been attacked by cats or mistakenly believed to be orphans. Others come in as a result of destroyed nests. The arrival of spring means there are many more baby rabbits to come, but luckily there are some easy ways you can help keep them safe:

Keep cats indoors (especially in the spring). Every year, SBWCN receives hundreds of animals that are caught by cats. Keeping your cat indoors not only protects defenseless baby rabbits, but keeps your feline friend safer too!
Hold off on brush clearing. Rabbits build their nests in the ground and are sometimes hard to see. Like tree trimming, it is recommended to wait until the fall/winter months that end in the letter “r” to avoid disturbing any nests.
If you find a nest of bunnies, don’t interfere. Typically, the mother only returns to the nest two or three times a day. Follow these steps to determine if the mother is present or call the SBWCN Helpline for advice: (805) 681-1080.

Desert Cottontail and Brush Rabbit Facts:
Despite their small size, both species can run up to speeds of 20-30 miles per hour!
Brush rabbits are small cottontail rabbits found mainly in Baja California in North American regions.
Desert cottontails rarely need to drink in the wild because they get water mainly from the plants they ingest.
Both species are herbivores; they mainly eat grasses and other plant species, including leaves, blackberries, and wild roses.
Brush rabbits are primarily crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dusk and dawn.
Brush rabbits are the smallest of all cottontails.

Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1988. For over 30 years, SBWCN has served to rescue, rehabilitate, and return to the wild sick, injured, orphaned, and oil-impaired wildlife in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties and to educate the public about living in harmony with wildlife. The SBWCN Helpline is available everyday from 9 AM–5 PM for animal emergencies and wildlife advice: (805) 681-1080. Donations in support of this work can be made at


Written by SBWCN

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