Dead Baby Rabbit

OK, so I was at my grandparent's house playing in the backyard, when I found a small baby bunny. It was very clearly dead, it was on it's side, eyes closed. My younger cousins were freaking out, so my grandma came out and picked it up with an inside out plastic snack bag. (Like you would with dog poop) After I took a few pictures for science purposes, she threw it away.

At the time, I estimated it was too young to be out of the nest. But after some research, it turns out it might have been 2-4 weeks old, meaning depending on how old it was, it could have been off on it's own. Apparently Cottontail Rabbits are almost completely on their own at 3 to 4 weeks.

It's eyes were closed, but I think that was just because it was dead. It didn't have any marks that indicated it was dead. It's feet were a little damp, but I'm pretty sure that's just from the dew. There were no predatory marks, and I took a few pictures because I was curious.

It was under a tree, the whole yard was well fenced in, and there were a few holes around the yard.

A few weeks before, my little brother and I had noticed a Cottontail Rabbit in the yard. We had dubbed it Nubbles, and I think Nubbles is a mother!

My guess as to how the rabbit died is that it was it's first night out of the burrow, and it froze to death. It's still having pretty frigid under freezing nights here, so it isn't out of the question in my opinion. There's honestly no concern or hurry, I'm just genuinely curious. There's plenty of places of people talking about skinned, beheaded, or disemboweled rabbits, but none about young rabbits without any marks. Any answers?

If this matters any, I'm in the suburbs of Chicago.

  • JD, nobody refers to " Cotton Tail" Rabbits in the UK so I'm not sure if our wild rabbits are even the same species.. The survival rate of young rabbits is fairly low which is why they breed in high numbers in the wild and many are also lost to predation

    Pete

    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • In reply to Seaman:

    So I finally realized that everyone here is from the UK.
    And I'm pretty sure they are different species.
    So do the baby bunnies just drop dead for no apparent reason, or are there a lot of diseases that target baby bunnies, or do they just have a high likelihood of not eating, or what?
  • Hi J Doggy Girl
    Welcome to the UK....

    Could you try one of your local wildlife ,I saw this ,not sure if it will help.
    www.dupageforest.org/.../baby-cottontail

     

  • In reply to JDoggyGirl:

    As rabbits soon became a pest species in the UK, eating crops and digging burrows that make embankments unsafe for example, as well as natural predation they are shot and we also introduce a disease called myxomatosis which is a virus I think but they seem to suffer a slow death from it.

    Pete

    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • RHD (Rabbit Hemorrhagic disease) has been reported in the USA which can lead to sudden death but I would expect you to be finding lots of dead bunnies. I think you are probably correct in you thought that it was probably too young to be sitting out and froze as you can see no signs of predation. Myxomatosis is unmistakeable and horrible.

    Cin J

  • In reply to Germain:

    Thank you for the answer! My curiousity has been satiated.