Baby rabbits accidentally burned in bonfire

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

Two eastern cottontails were among the 42 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a common tern, two black scoters, a Brazilian free-tailed bat and a Florida softshell turtle.

The eastern cottontails were two of 14 that were admitted to the hospital last week. Undeniably, their cause of injury was one of the most heartbreaking we have witnessed.

The young eastern cottontails were injured after a family cut some brush in order to have a bonfire. Their son heard distress calls coming from the fire; when they searched the area they found one rabbit had been burned. They immediately brought the rabbit to the wildlife hospital.

Staff advised them to go home and search to make sure no other babies were injured since it is unusual to find a single baby rabbit. When they went home and further inspected the fire area, they found a second rabbit had also been injured.

The burns and injuries the two young rabbits endured were extensive leaving euthanasia the only humane course of action.

No one could have ever foreseen the situation that occurred with these baby rabbits. Tragic as it was, it can serve as a reminder for everyone.

If you are involved in any type of landscaping or trimming activities please check the area for active nests. Young birds and mammals are helpless when still in the nest and therefore unable to flee from danger. Often time, young animals react to danger by hunkering down and remaining still, making it even more difficult to notice their presence.

The extra time spent checking your lawn, trees and plantings before starting any landscaping can be well worth it if it prevents injuring or displacing an animal.

Recent Releases — 16 Go Home

  • 1 big brown bat
  • 3 eastern cottontails
  • 1 Florida red-bellied turtle
  • 1 raccoon
  • 1 peninsula cooter
  • 1 grey squirrel
  • 1 pied-billed grebe
  • 1 red-shouldered hawk
  • 1 grey catbird
  • 1 osprey
  • 1 Virginia opossum
  • 1 sandwich tern
  • 1 great horned owl
  • 1 gopher tortoise

Opportunities to Help

Please visit our website at and learn about the many opportunities there are to get involved.

Volunteers are vital in our efforts to assist native wildlife.

If you are unable to give of your time as a volunteer, become a member or donate.

However you choose to become involved, your support will help the Conservancy continue to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

Have you read these blogs from the wildlife hospital?