It’s Spring time. Baby season. Everywhere you look you see baby animals. Unfortunately, your dog sees them too. This post is inspired by a story my dad recently told me. My parents have two dogs, not big burly outdoor dogs by any means. One is a Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel/Poodle mix) and the other is a Bichon Poo (Bichon Frise/Poodle mix).
Well, these two like to think that they’re big burly dogs and so every chance they get, they are exploring our yard. This Spring, the Bichon Poo found a bunny nest (yes, bunnies make nests). That led the Cockapoo to also find the nest, and he likes to eat everything. He picked up a baby in his mouth and started parading it around the yard. That’s when my dad heard the blood curdling cry of a baby bunny. That is not a sound you ever want to hear, my friends. It will break your heart. What an awful evolutionary adaptation for these babies to sound like squeak toys when attacked by a dog.
Well, my dad grabbed that rabbit from the dogs mouth and set it outside the fence. There was another one dead by the nest. Not an hour later, the baby that was placed outside the fence returned to the yard, and my dad once again removed it.
What he didn’t realize is that bunnies do make nests. The baby was only trying to return to its home. I hope to provide a few tips for preventing a clash between your dogs and the babies. They are high stress, and likely the reason the first bunny in my story died is that he was scared to death. The bunny that was left alive after the encounter with the dogs was then hopping across the patio when a feral cat lept out and ate it.
First of all, if you notice baby rabbits in the middle of your yard clumped together in a worn down patch of grass or small ditch, realize that they are probably in a nest patiently waiting for mom to get home and not orphans needing to be rescued. If you remove them, you may be kidnapping and they need their mom. Keep an eye on the nest a few days and if you don’t see the mom return ever, you should call your local wildlife rehabilitation center before removing the bunnies.
Second, the easiest way to prevent a clash is to simply keep your dog out of the yard until you notice the bunnies are gone. It shouldn’t take too long for them to grow up enough to venture out. In the mean time, restrict your dog to the front yard if the nest is in your back yard, or vice-versa.
Another option, if you can’t for some reason keep your dog away from the yard with the nest, is to try and block the nest from your dog. You can get some wire fencing with gaps big enough for a mom to get back to the babies and set that up around the nest. No matter what you attempt to use to block the nest from the dog, it needs to have an opening big enough for the mom to return and it needs to allow natural sunlight to enter. Your dog is probably bigger than the mama bunny so this shouldn’t be too difficult to do. Blocking the nest isn’t fool proof so you still should keep an eye on your dog, just in case.
And lastly, just a final note for you, keep your eyes opened for nests when mowing the lawn. When I interned at a wildlife rehabilitation center a couple of summer ago, a baby bunny came in with his ears mowed off because the lawnmower went over the top of the nest. He was the only survivor and he didn’t escape with his ears.
Hope this helps!
One last thing: Please please please don’t allow your cat to be an outdoor cat. They kill birds, rabbits, and more and it isn’t necessarily safe for your cat either. There are many animals that carry disease that may harm your cat. Growing up I had a neighbor whose outdoor cat was killed by a coyote. It’s just a good idea to keep your cat inside. Stepping off my soap box now.