Baby rabbits and hares

Identification #

Although rabbits and hares look similar, their breeding habits are quite different so the advice on when to help them varies somewhat too.  Firstly, let’s help you identify which is which.

A baby rabbit
A baby rabbit

Baby rabbits are born furless and with their eyes closed. When they’re a bit older, their fur is quite short and smooth and their ears are smaller than those of leverets. Their eyes, once they open, are all dark brown.

Leverets, on the other hand, are born fully furred and with their eyes open. Their fur looks thicker and more textured than that of rabbits, their ears are larger, and their eyes have a lighter coloured outer ring.

A leveret (baby hare)
A leveret (baby hare)


When to Rescue #

Either species caught by a cat or dog

Any animal caught by a predator will need to be checked for injuries and given antibiotics. Bacteria on the cat’s teeth can cause fatal septicaemia if they get into the bloodstream.

Either species with a visible wound or injury

The baby won’t survive without treatment.

Baby rabbits with their eyes closed found above ground

Rabbits should not leave the nest until their eyes are open so any young babies outside the nest are in trouble.

A rabbit nest is disturbed or destroyed

Unlike other species, rabbit Mums will often abandon babies if the nest is disturbed. Cover the babies over to keep them warm and safe and seek advice from a rescue.

A baby of either species found with dead litter mates or a dead adult

This suggests something has gone wrong and help is needed.

The animal has swollen eyes with discharge or crusting

This could well be myxomatosis and the animal needs urgent help.


When to Leave Alone #

Leverets on their own without Mum

Mother hares leave their babies alone during the day while they feed. The baby’s instinct is to sit still and wait for Mum. This is normal and no intervention is needed.

Babies of either species above ground if their eyes are open and they are uninjured

If the eyes are open they’re either a leveret, in which case it’s normal for them to be on their own, or they’re a baby rabbit old enough to be out of the nest. As long as the baby is uninjured, all is well and no intervention is needed.

Finding Help #

You can find details of rescues in your area by searching our directory. If you're unsure whether to intervene or you have difficulty finding a rescue who can help, we have information about sources of bespoke help. We also have articles with detailed, practical advice about capturing an animal, providing short term care, contacting a wildlife rescue, and getting the animal to them.

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Updated on May 6, 2024