The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Having a pet bunny is a great decision because this adorable animal will fill your life with laughter and joy. And although it’s illegal to keep a wild rabbit as a pet, sometimes you’ll have to deal with these animals.
You might find an injured wild rabbit in your backyard or in the park, so you might need to step in.
So, if you want to learn how to tell how old a wild rabbit is, keep on reading because we’ll answer several questions about wild rabbits.
How to Tell How Old a Wild Rabbit Is?
There’s no easy or accurate way to tell the age of a wild rabbit.
However, some signs can help you determine the approximate age of the rabbit.
- Check if the bunny has opened its eyes or not.
- Take a look at the amount of fur on the body.
- If the animal is injured, weigh it.
- Check the ears.
- See how the rabbit reacts to loud noises.
Baby bunnies have their eyes closed until they’re about 7 or 10 days old. Then, when they’re three to four weeks old, rabbits get weaned and are old enough to leave their nest because they’ve grown enough fur.
Some rabbits live to reach the age of 10 or 12 years old. As a result, you can divide bunnies into babies, young rabbits, adult rabbits, and elderly rabbits.
Identifying a Baby Rabbit
Rabbits are considered babies from birth until they reach the age of 2 months.
In most cases, people find baby rabbits, and they think that they’re abandoned. However, just because the mother isn’t present at the moment doesn’t mean that she has abandoned her litter.
If you have a nest in your backyard, you can keep an eye on its opening to make sure that the mother has returned. If you touch the rabbits, your scent will stick to them, and she might reject them.
But if you’re sure that the rabbits are abandoned, you can look for these signs to determine the age of the babies.
- Newly born Cottontail rabbits that are 3 days old or less are rather dark with transparent bellies and have their eyes completely closed. They measure less than 2 inches long.
- Between the age of 3 and 6 days, the fur starts to grow from the delicate skin, and the ears start to come away from the body. The rabbits can’t hear still, and their eyes will remain closed.
- On day 7, the rabbit begins to hear because the ear canal opens. The fur remains pressed against the skin but keeps the bunny warm.
- Between days 10 and 14, the eyes start to open, and the bunnies start to explore their environment since they can see and hear. The rabbits grow a little bigger, and the fur’s color begins to change slightly.
- Although the bunnies are still dependent on their mother’s milk, they start snacking on hay and grass.
- Between 2 and 3 weeks, the curious bunnies become more interested in exploring their surroundings, especially as their muscles grow stronger and allow them to hop. They also leave the nest in short intervals, feeding on dried grass, hay, and weeds.
- Between the ages of 3 to 5 weeks, the ears stand fully erect, and the furry coat becomes plush to keep the bunny warm. In addition, the rabbits become more alert and react to loud noises to protect themselves from predators.
Identifying a Young Rabbit
A young rabbit measures between 5 and 7 inches long and looks like a small version of an adult rabbit. A bunny weighs less than a pound, but it starts to leave the nest to look for food.
- At the age of 6 weeks, the bunny looks like an adult bunny, but it’s unable to reproduce.
- At the age of 8 weeks, the rabbit becomes fully weaned.
- Within 4 to 6 months, rabbits become interested in the opposite sex. Small breeds become sexually mature at the age of 3.5 to 4 months, medium-sized breeds become mature at the age of 4 to 4.5 months, while giant breeds become sexually mature between 6 and 9 months.
- The rabbit will keep on growing until it’s 9 months old. If you’re not certain about its age, you can take photos and start comparing them.
Identifying an Adult Rabbit
After the age of 9 months, the rabbit is considered an adult. However, there are some signs that help you tell that you have an adult and not an elderly rabbit.
- An adult rabbit can become more hostile if you approach it.
- An adult rabbit will display hostile mating behavior.
- Adult rabbits are active while feeding and playing.
- An adult rabbit looks powerful and has a shiny and thick coat. The eyes look bright, and the animal seems alert towards its surroundings.
- An adult rabbit has a strong and plump body.
Identifying an Older Rabbit
After the age of 4 or 5 years, the animal is considered an elderly rabbit. Here are some signs that can help you identify an elderly rabbit.
- An older rabbit looks like an adult one but seems less interested in its surroundings. It’s less likely to react towards noise or show any signs of aggression.
- Older rabbits tend to sleep more and eat less.
- Because rabbits become less active and don’t eat much, they don’t lose their muscle mass, and they become skinny.
- Older rabbits move more slowly and have stiff joints. As a result, they’re more likely to drag their feet rather than hop.
- Older rabbits are more likely to suffer from sore hocks due to their weakened limbs. Although a young can suffer from sore hocks due to a poor diet, this condition is more common in older rabbits.
- Although a bad diet can cause the rabbits’ teeth to overgrow at any age, this condition is more common in elderly rabbits.
Should You Keep a Wild Rabbit as a Pet?
You need a legal license from your state to keep a wild rabbit. However, if you find an injured baby or adult bunny, you can take it to the vet and have it treated.
Baby rabbits should be left alone. Their mother might not be in the nest because she’s looking for food, but this doesn’t mean that she’s not coming back.
As a matter of fact, she might be hiding somewhere watching you while you’re approaching her babies.
If you’re sure that the mother isn’t returning or if you have found her dead somewhere near, you should take the baby bunnies to the vet.
The vet will either take the wild bunnies or guide you on how to take care of them. Baby rabbits can’t eat the food designed for adults, although they can accept some grass and hay.
Nevertheless, they need a special set of nutrients to help them grow.
However, if the bunnies aren’t injured, their survival chance increases if you leave them alone.
If you find an injured adult rabbit and you decide to keep it until it gets better, you should try to keep it warm.
Adult rabbits feed on dry grass and hay. Oat and timothy hay are among the favorite types that bunnies prefer.
What Should You Feed a Baby Wild Rabbit?
After the age of 2 and 3 weeks, you can feed your rabbit rolled oats. When the rabbit is 1 month old, you can feed it high-quality pellets.
You should slowly introduce oats and pellets to avoid enterotoxaemia, which can be fatal in bunnies.
Do Wild Rabbits Live Longer than Pet Rabbits?
Even if two rabbits are coming from the same breed, a pet rabbit is likely to live longer than a wild one.
Wild rabbits have to struggle to protect themselves from diseases, changing weather, and predators. As a result, the rabbits can easily get hurt in the wild and be left to die because they can’t get their food.
But this doesn’t happen to pet rabbits.
A pet rabbit is kept in a controlled condition. You, as an owner, keep it warm and provide it with a special diet that addresses its nutritional needs.
If your rabbit is sick, you’ll immediately take it to the vet, so it won’t suffer from difficult consequences.
Moreover, your home is a safe environment, even if you have a dog or a cat. You, as a rabbit owner, will be making sure that your other pets won’t hurt or eat your pet bunny.
This is why a wild rabbit would live for a few years, but a domesticated one might live up to 10 or 12 years.
Determining the age of a wild rabbit isn’t easy because, after the age of 9 months, the rabbit’s look won’t change. However, specific signs can help you tell the difference between a baby, young, adult, and elderly rabbit.
Baby bunnies have their eyes and ears closed when they’re born, but within weeks they become fully aware and start to explore their surroundings.
As the rabbit gets older, it becomes sluggish and less interested in its surroundings. It also tends to eat less.
If you find an injured rabbit, you can take it to the vet, but if you find abandoned baby rabbits, you shouldn’t try to move or touch them because their mother is probably nearby.