Is this rabbit in distress?

Asked February 27, 2017, 9:18 AM EST

I'm concerned about a wild rabbit who huddles for hours along the foundation of my house. He appears to have no burrow or den mates, and I worry that he might starve or freeze to death. He has been loitering like this since the first cold weather hit back in December and it's now February, but the fact that he is always alone and exposed in freezing temperatures makes me worry. Yesterday, for instance, he was there from 7 in the morning until dark, when I stopped checking. There is nothing I can find online about this type of odd behavior, and I'd be very grateful if a wildlife expert could explain if this is normal for rabbits. If it's not, is there anything I can do besides tossing him carrots?

New Castle County Delaware

1 Response

The rabbit may be huddling near your home's foundation during daylight hours to gather warmth from the building material. If you are also feeding it at this location, the rabbit now knows where to forage for food - which will encourage it to stay in the area. Rabbits are adapted to find shelter/cover in adverse conditions. The rabbit is probably searching for food during evening hours and staying still, conserving warmth, during the daylight. They will be selecting mates soon and with the temperatures rising, natural food sources (clover, Henbit, Chickweed, etc.) will become available. I believe this rabbit might become more mobile, if it hasn't already. Skunks and opossums are now moving around, in search of food and new nesting areas. The rabbit might also be sticking close to your foundation to protect itself from hawk & owl predators. Rabbits have a very weak heart and exposure to extreme weather conditions will take it's toll ... since your rabbit has lived through the most harsh portion of our winter, I believe it will be fine and leave soon - or maybe stay around to get the carrots - they are more tasty than chickweed! ~DOT