The most common species of rabbit in Illinois is the Eastern Cottontail. Cottontails have litters of 1-8 young every 28 days with 3 to 4 litters per year. Babies’ eyes open at 6-8 days and they are weaned at 3 weeks of age. As soon as they are weaned they are considered on their own. At this time they are only 4 to 5 inches long. Their eyes are open and their ears stand straight up. They give the appearance of a miniature adult cottontail.
Cottontail body temperature is 100-103 degrees.
Mothers only return to the nest about 2 times a day, usually at night. You probably will not see her. If you find a nest, leave the bunnies in the nest. Place yarn or a twig on the nest. If the yarn or twig has been moved after 12 to 24 hours, then the mother is tending the nest. You can also check the bunnies to see that they are warm and hydrated; this is another indication that the mother has been to the nest. If a bunny is not cold, is fully furred, eyes open, and not in danger from pets, it has a better chance on its own than with human care.
If you have found a rabbit or litter that is in need, please refer to our Wildlife Help and Resources page: http://vetmed.illinois.edu/wildlife/wildlife-help-and-resources/rabbits/