Mowing the immediate area should be avoided. A good rule of thumb: most animals that appear alert, bright-eyed or are trying to run away from you do not need your help. Of course, if the bunnies are injured, they should be brought in promptly for care.
*A cottontail should never be kept as a “pet.” These animals are very easily stressed, and do not adapt well to captivity. They are also prone to fractures, and they may easily manage to escape your grip and fall to the ground. When discovered, people often assume they are “tame” when in reality, they are extremely frightened. Cottontails present many challenges for wildlife rehabilitators and can be difficult to raise; sometimes the stress of simply being handled is enough to kill them. Additionally, they require proper formulas that include goat’s milk, proper housing, care, and supplementary foods until they are weaned.
*If you feel the bunnies are in trouble do not feed them. Milk products and human baby products are detrimental. If you must transport displaced, orphaned or injured cottontails to the Wildlife Center, place them in a shoebox lined with a washcloth; close and tape the box; bunnies can jump and knock the lid off. Do not handle the bunnies or allow children to handle them.
Like bunnies of storybooks and stuffed toys, cottontails are “cute” especially when they are youngsters, but are not meant to be in captivity, cuddled and handled. Over the years, a few individuals have called for advice, and then insist “they want their child to raise the animal.” Instead of the outcome being a “positive” wildlife experience for a young person, almost 100% of the time this results in disaster for the animal and has an unhappy ending for the child as well.
Last but not least: If a nest of cottontails is discovered in an extremely inconvenient place, such as the middle a kennel, the nest can be moved about 6 inches every day until it is out of immediate danger. The mother will continue to care for the litter. This is a solution which involves keeping dogs, the usual suspects, away from the nest or out of the fenced in yard, for a shorter period of time.