The Eastern Cottontail rabbit is the most common wild rabbit species in Ontario. They are prolific breeders and can have many litters a year.

What a rabbit looks like

Eastern cottontail rabbits are small to medium-sized, brown in colour and can range from being two to four pounds.

When you encounter a rabbit

Unless a rabbit appears ill or injured, don’t disturb it, take it in as a pet or try taking care of it. Learn what to do when you encounter baby or adult rabbits in public spaces or on your private property.

If you encounter a baby rabbit and its eyes are open, that means it’s at least 10 days old and close to leaving the nest. If you find a baby rabbit bigger than the size of your fist outside its nest, it may be about three to four weeks old. To avoid causing the mother not to return to her young, leave them alone. If you have a pet, keep them on a leash until you’ve confirmed the nest is empty.

If you don’t see the mother within 24-hours of discovering the nest and you’re concerned the baby rabbit may have been orphaned, you can try conducting a string test.

  1. Place a few pieces of yarn or light cotton string in a tic-tac-toe pattern over the nest.
  2. Take a photo of the strings so you can determine if the strings have been moved.
  3. Leave the strings overnight and check them in the morning. If the string has been moved, it means the mother returned to the nest overnight to feed her young.

If the strings are exactly as how you left them, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for support.

Rabbits are shy, sensitive and wary of danger. Don’t feed wild rabbits of any life stage. Information about why it’s important not to feed rabbits and how doing so can hurt them is available online.

Report an ill or injured rabbit

If you find a rabbit and you’re not sure if it may need help, check if:

  • They appear healthy
  • They can hop around
  • Their ears are upright

If you suspect a rabbit is sick, injured or orphaned, contact Animal Services at 905-896-5858.