Marsh Rabbit Wrapped in Twine; Dove Trapped in Fallen Bird Feeder

A marsh rabbit and a mourning dove were among the 77 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include two Florida snapping turtles, an American redstart, a black-crowned night-heron and a black-bellied whistling duck.

A marsh rabbit with twine wrapped around its body

A resident of a local gated community reported seeing a marsh rabbit that appeared to have a piece of twine wrapped around his body just behind his front legs. The woman sent photos documenting the situation; she was very concerned but could only get within eight feet of the rabbit before he would bolt away.

Two wildlife hospital volunteers who lived near the area where the rabbit was located tried to capture the rabbit using fishing nets but were unsuccessful, the rabbit was just too quick. A nuisance wildlife trapper was contacted for trapping suggestions. Since trapping rabbits isn’t common practice, the only suggestion that seemed applicable was to try and use the house as a barrier and funnel the rabbit into a cage.

With permission from the home owner, the concerned resident monitored the property and kept an eye out for the rabbit. As days passed it appeared that the twine might be tightening around the rabbit’s body. Several rescue attempts proved frustratingly unsuccessful because there was never a guarantee the rabbit would be in the area by the time hospital volunteers could arrive on scene. It took a month for the vigilance and watchful eyes of the resident to pay off. Finally the rabbit was spotted and two wildlife hospital volunteers were able to corral and capture the rabbit.

Hospital staff examined the rabbit; the twine looked like white soccer netting. Our guess is the rabbit may have gotten stuck as he tried to hop through the net. While the marsh rabbit had chewed through several connecting sections of the net, he still had one section of net that had remained wrapped around his body.

The rabbit was in good condition and uninjured even though he had been entangled in the twine for such an extended period of time. The twine was loose enough that it hadn’t compromised his circulation or cut into his body. Once the Conservancy veterinarian removed the twine, the rabbit was able to be released back where he was found.

This isn’t the only example of a common place item causing an injury to a wild animal last week. A mourning dove arrived at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital after being found trapped in a cylindrical mesh bird feeder. Apparently when the bird feeder fell to the ground, the top was dislodged which provided access for the dove. Once the dove walked into the feeder it was trapped. The homeowner transported the bird feeder to the Conservancy with the dove inside.

A mourning dove trapped in a bird feeder

A Hospital staff member was able to gently cover the dove and work the bird backwards out of the feeder. The dove suffered lacerations along both wings which required medical treatment and a course of antibiotics. The mourning dove continues to recover in the bird room at the wildlife hospital.

Wildlife hospital staff removing the dove from the feeder and assessing the animal

The simplest of items can surprising pose threats to animals. Over the years we have had screech owls admitted after falling into buckets of paint and bleach. A laughing gull was left incapacitated after being accidentally sprayed with foam insulation at a construction site, and we have rescued bats and hummingbirds stuck to sticky fly tape. Home owners that are aware of the dangers that household items pose to native wildlife can help prevent injuries by employing safe usage practices. If you find an animal you believe is in need of assistance, call the wildlife hospital. Staff will provide guidance to ensure the animal receives the help it needs.

Recent Releases

Three gopher tortoises, two marsh rabbits, eleven eastern cottontails, six mourning doves, a peninsula cooter, a fox squirrel, a royal tern, a blue jay, a red-shouldered hawk, a common gallinule, a common nighthawk were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

Please visit the Conservancy website at to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. With the majority of our volunteers being away for the summer we are left with coverage gaps in our schedule. Please get involved if you think you could commit to one four hour shift a week. Your volunteer time, as well as your membership and donations, are vital in helping us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

Joanna Fitzgerald is director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Call 239–262–2273 or see



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Conservancy of SWFL

Conservancy of SWFL


Protecting Southwest Florida's unique natural environment and quality of and forever.