This response was provided by Darryl Coates, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, District Wildlife Biologist.
Rabbits spend their lives in a fairly small area, typically 10 acres or less. Home ranges of one to five acres have been reported in central Illinois. Most residential lots are quarter acre 75' X 145' lots. Rabbits use forms (a shelter made from grass or weeds) and scrapes beneath the cover of vegetation.
Rabbits are polygamous (mate with several individuals), and they start breeding when they are as young as six months old. They breed from February through September, with the peak occurring between March and May. Gestation is 28 to 30 days, with four to six young born per litter. Rabbits often have three litters per year. The female digs a small, shallow depression about the size of a woman's hand. The nest is lined with grass and the female's fur. The top of the nest is camouflaged with grass and leaves. The young are born blind and without fur, but within a week their eyes are open and by the second week their fur has grown in.
If you find a rabbit nest do not disturb the young or the nest. The female has not abandoned her young. To keep predators from finding the young the female only visits the nest twice a day to nurse them, typically once in early morning and again in the evening. Young rabbits develop quickly and will leave the nest when they are about three weeks old. The best way to protect young rabbits in your yard is to leave them in their nest. Keep cats and dogs away from the area, and be careful when mowing overgrown lawns.
To encourage rabbits to leave your yard: Habitat modification - remove brush piles, weed patches, stone piles, and other debris and keep the grass cut short. Exclusion - Works well for small areas but is not practical for a large yard. Exclusion fencing is 1/4 inch hardware cloth. Very effective if protecting a small shrub and tree. Repellents: Repellents can be used but must be reapplied as plant material grows or heavy rain washes taste repellent off. Practical for small border planting but cost prohibitive for yards. Thanks for contacting us.