It’s a common dream to take in a wild animal and tame it to become a good friend. If you love rabbits, you may see the wild rabbits in your backyard and wonder whether you could become friends and take the rabbit in as your own. While it is possible to tame a wild rabbit, it’s very difficult.
The number one thing to keep in mind is that it is illegal in many places to tame or take in a wild rabbit, especially cottontails. You may need to obtain a special license to do so legally, or there may not be a way for you to do so. Always abide by the laws in your state or country and check the regulations before attempting to take in a wild rabbit.
How do you tame a wild rabbit? You will need to legally catch and take in a wild rabbit, and then slowly gain its trust by feeding it, spending time with it, and giving it a good home.
What Kinds of Wild Rabbits Are Good to Tame?
There is no one breed of wild rabbit that is easiest to tame. You will mostly be limited by the species that live in your area, which will most commonly be cottontails. There are several species of cottontail throughout the world, with the most common in the United States being the Eastern Cottontail. Unfortunately, cottontails are almost impossible to tame and are very skittish. It takes a lot of work to gain the trust of a cottontail, and many will never completely trust a human regardless of whether they are tamed or in the wild.
In Europe, the most common type of rabbit is the European rabbit. They are an invasive species that have spread throughout the world including to America and Australia. European rabbits are less timid than cottontails and in some cases are socialized to not be afraid of humans due to their large number and their interaction with humans. However, to trap and tame a European rabbit in your home is still a lot of work.
What to Expect When Taming a Rabbit
Wild rabbits are very timid and skittish. They are not used to humans for the most part and they will see humans as predators waiting to kill them. Most actions such as petting, feeding them food out of your hand, cuddling or sitting together, and anything else that involves getting close to the rabbit will have to wait quite a while until the rabbit grows used to you, if it does at all. Tamed rabbits may never become fully domesticated and may never be comfortable enough to act like domestic rabbits, so be prepared to have a pet that may be frightened of you and avoid you most of the time.
Rabbits may also never be litter trained. If you tame a wild rabbit, you won’t be able to get it spayed or neutered and you won’t be able to litter train it because of this. You should be able to provide litter boxes for some of its favorite spots, but you can’t prevent it from marking its territory or using the bathroom wherever it wants.
How to Prepare for Taming a Rabbit
You will need to have everything ready before you catch a rabbit because a wild rabbit isn’t going to want to stay with you. You should set up a cage or enclosure before you try to catch a rabbit, and make sure it’s secure and that the rabbit can stay in there for quite a while, possibly its whole life, without being taken out. You should have plenty of hay and leafy greens available in the enclosure before you place the rabbit in so that it is immediately more comfortable in its environment. You’ll need to prepare for owning a tamed rabbit the same way you would for owning a domesticated rabbit and make sure you have rabbit-proofed the area even more so.
How to Catch a Wild Rabbit
To catch a wild rabbit, you must use a trap that will keep the rabbit alive. Most cartoons show a box held up by a stick with a carrot under it, but this is a little too simplistic for real life. You will probably have to purchase a live trap that is humane in order to catch the rabbit and bring it into your house. These types of traps can cost around $20-30 depending on the quality of the trap. They are your best bet for capturing a rabbit, but a rabbit that has been trapped may not trust you or its environment after being brought into your home because it was forcibly taken away from its home.
If you are very lucky, you may be able to befriend a wild rabbit by offering it food frequently and making it used to your presence. If this is the case, you may be able to pick the rabbit up and place it in a cage or box in order to take it into your home. Keep in mind that being handled can be shocking and very scary for wild rabbits, and you should be as gentle as possible to avoid killing the rabbit due to shock.
You should always be careful when removing female rabbits from their habitat, as she may have a litter waiting on her to feed them. It’s best to capture male rabbits whenever possible to avoid orphaning a litter.
Where to Keep the Rabbit
You should set up a large enclosure of at least 12 square feet for the rabbit to stay in. Make sure at least one of the sides is against a solid wall, as this will give the rabbit a sense of security an allow it to go somewhere to retreat and recover. If you can provide a hutch for the rabbit to hide in, this is even better. Wild rabbits are used to having a warren to hide in when necessary, so the rabbit will want a place to go to when it feels threatened. You should at first keep the rabbit in a quiet place where it won’t become overwhelmed by people or other pets, although as it becomes tamer you can move it out to be with the household. The most important thing is to make the rabbit feel comfortable and safe so that it gets used to your home and you.
What to Feed the Rabbit
A tamed or captured rabbit can be fed the same foods as a domesticated rabbit. Babies will usually eat cat formula or milk replacement and alfalfa hay, while adults can eat timothy hay or pellets. With wild rabbits, it’s important to make sure that they are eating enough greens, as they are used to eating grass and wild vegetables. This means that you should feed the rabbit leafy greens such as dark lettuces, the tops from root vegetables, and even grass clippings if you have pesticide-free clippings available.
If you want to improve your relationship with the rabbit, you can offer it fruits and hold them out slowly for the rabbit to come get. These sweet treats should only be fed in moderation, but getting a piece of fruit every day or two from you will make the rabbit associate good things with you.
How to Make the Rabbit Feel Comfortable
It’s important to make sure you give the rabbit all the space it needs. It will probably be scared of you at first and will want to get away from you because it thinks you’re a predator. You need to prove to the rabbit that you’re a friend. When you’re spending time with the rabbit, sit or lay down to make yourself appear smaller. This will put the rabbit at ease and it will see you as less threatening. You should avoid hovering over the rabbit or holding your hand over its head. If you want to pet it, reach above it slowly and pet its body so that it is less likely to bite you. Only pet it for a moment and then back off so that it can run away if it’s frightened.
You should definitely avoid having any predator animals in the house such as cats or dogs. This will make the rabbit feel very unsafe and it will constantly hide from the threats it sees.
How to Make a Tamed Rabbit Trust You
You will need to build your relationship with the rabbit up over time, and it may take as much as years for the rabbit to eventually trust you. You will need to be calm and quiet whenever you see the rabbit so that it doesn’t get frightened, and you should avoid hovering or standing over it if at all possible. Try to have the same predictable routines so that the rabbit gets used to you and feels comfortable with what you’re doing.
You should also make sure that you’re established as the source of food and water. Make sure you’re the primary person feeding your rabbit, both when it comes to hay and to treats like fruits and vegetables. If you are always the person providing the food, and you provide it consistently and without being threatening, the rabbit will see you as a trusted source of survival.
How to Keep a Tamed Rabbit Healthy
It’s much more important with wild or tamed rabbits to keep their living area clean. Wild rabbits carry a number of bacteria and diseases, and may have fleas or ticks as well. You should purchase flea treatment and administer it regularly, and you should check the rabbit for any ticks or other bugs when you get it. You should also clean the rabbit’s enclosure regularly with rabbit-safe cleaners such as white vinegar to get rid of the bacteria that the rabbit carries. This should go on for all of its life, as it will not stop being a carrier for bacteria and diseases. The rabbit most likely won’t get sick with these diseases as its immune system has built up a resistance to the symptoms. However, a buildup of contaminants can get it sick with other diseases.
You should also make sure the rabbit has plenty of room to exercise and play. To stay happy and healthy, rabbits need several hours of exercise a day as well as plenty of toys to keep them occupied. Make sure your rabbit is mentally healthy by giving it toys such as balls of paper to kick around or tunnels to run through.
What Not to Do When Taming a Rabbit
There are certain actions that will make it harder for you to gain the tamed rabbit’s trust. You should avoid making yourself seem big or menacing by looming over the rabbit or reaching out over its head. When you’re spending time with the rabbit, it’s best to lay down and allow the rabbit to come to you rather than trying to get close to it. The rabbit will be more comfortable if it’s able to interact with you on its own terms.
Don’t try to pick it up. Picking up a wild rabbit may cause shock and even death, and at best the rabbit will not trust you and will think of you as a predator that will grab it. Similarly, you shouldn’t chase the rabbit or follow it around. These are also predator behaviors that will frighten it.
What to Do if You Find Rabbit Babies
Even if you think the babies are abandoned, they’re probably not. Mother rabbits only visit their babies during the dawn and dusk, and nurse for less than ten minutes again before leaving. This is to keep the nest safe and avoid attracting predators. To check if the mother is coming to visit the nest, you should place a piece of string over the nest and see if it has moved the next day. If it has, you should leave the babies alone and let the mother take care of them.
If the mother isn’t visiting, your next course of action should be to try to take the babies to a rabbit rescue. Baby rabbits have almost a 70% chance of dying if they are taken care of by humans, but they have a better chance if they are taken care of by professionals.
If you have no rabbit rescues near you and you have to take care of the babies yourself, you should bring the whole nest with the rabbits in it to disturb them as little as possible. You will need to feed them every day as well as help them urinate and defecate until they’re about ten days old. Be prepared for any or all of them to die despite your best efforts.
How to Tame Baby Rabbits
If your rescued baby rabbits manage to survive, it is actually fairly easy to tame them. Baby rabbits that have had humans in their lives from the beginning are much less likely to be skittish or frightened of the people around them. Just by spending time with them while they are little and establishing yourself as a source of food and comfort will be enough to develop a relationship with them and socialize them. While they will never act like domestic rabbits and will always be timid to some degree, they will be more adapted than rabbits tamed at an older age.
Why Shouldn’t You Tame a Rabbit?
Wild rabbits carry diseases. If you have other animals in the house, especially other rabbits, you run the risk of getting your other animals sick. In fact, it’s very likely that the wild rabbit is carrying diseases that will kill your rabbits, in addition to fleas and ticks that can spread and carry additional diseases. If you have any other animals in the house, taming a wild rabbit isn’t a good idea.
Wild rabbits also won’t be as affectionate or well-adjusted as domesticated rabbits. If you just want to own a bunny, it may be a better idea to adopt one from your local rescue that will be much friendlier and more likely to warm up to you. Domestic rabbits are also easily litter trained and are completely legal.
What can I feed wild rabbits? Wild rabbits like hay, grass, leafy greens, vegetables, and berries just like domestic rabbits do. Anything that can be fed to a domestic rabbit can also be fed to a wild rabbit.
How do I get my rabbit to like me? You should spend time with your rabbit by laying down bear it and offering it treats and food when it comes near you. Over time it will associate you with good things and come to trust you.
Where is the best place to get a rabbit? Rabbit rescues are probably the cheapest way to get a healthy rabbit, and they are in the most need of help and adoptions. They will also vaccinate and spay or neuter your rabbit for you.