Prognostic indicators for survival of orphaned neonatal and juvenile eastern cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus): 1,256 cases (2012–17)

Stephanie L. Principati, Krista A. Keller, Matthew C. Allender, Sarah Reich, Julia Whittington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Orphaned eastern cottontail rabbits (ECRs; Sylvilagus floridanus) often present to wildlife clinics within their geographic range and require considerable dedication of time and resources. The objective of this analytical cross-sectional study was to assess initial examination findings to be used as prognostic indicators for orphaned neonatal and juvenile ECRs. The medical records of the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic were searched for ECRs presenting between 2012 and 2018. This criterion identified 1,256 ECRs that were then classified as survivors (survived and released) or as nonsurvivors (euthanized or natural death) within 72 h of admission. Presenting weight, body system abnormalities, hydration status, intervention prior to presentation, and singleton versus group presentation were categorically recorded for each individual ECR. The data were modeled using a series of logistic regression models fitted using the general linear model. Individuals were significantly more likely to be nonsurvivors if they presented as singletons (P<0.0001), presented with moderate/ severe (P<0.001) or mild integumentary signs (P=0.0261), presented with multi-organ disease (P<0.001), presented with neurologic signs (P<0.0003), or had treatment provided prior to presentation (P=0.031). Factors that did not predict survival status in ECRs included body weight (P=0.210), presence of respiratory signs (P=0.674), and presence of dehydration (P=0.356). These findings may be used at wildlife medical clinics to make triage criteria for euthanasia as well as dedicate limited funds and labor to cases with the best prognosis for survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-529
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of wildlife diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Lagomorph
  • Mortality
  • Rabbit
  • Survival
  • Wildlife
  • Wildlife medical clinic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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