When baby bunnies are born, you’re instantly their caregiver. It not a hard job, but there are many important rabbit care tips you need to know. Actually, I get asked a lot about how the baby bunny caregiver. Here are my suggested baby bunny care tips.
First of all, if your pet rabbit is pregnant, put a little nest box into her cage or hutch. A few days before she gives birth, the mother rabbit will pull out some of her fur to line the nest. You can also add straw or hay. If the mother hasn’t made a nest, you should do that for her. Mother rabbits carry their babies or kits anywhere from 27 to 30 days depending upon the breed of rabbit. They can birth up to 14 babies at once. Because of the large number of kits born at once, sometimes a baby bunny needs a little extra care to survive.
Development Age Growth Chart For Baby Bunnies
Baby bunnies grow and develop quickly. Here’s what you can except for the first two months of your baby bunny’s life.
Newborn to Two Weeks 0-2
Baby bunnies are nursed, cared for by the mother rabbit(doe). Babies tend to stay in nest even though they might wiggle around. Check them daily to be sure they’re growing and gaining weight.
Two to Four Weeks 2-4
The nest box can be removed from the rabbit’s cage. The babies are moving around a lot, leaving the nest. At this age, they are susceptible to infections in the gut and eyes. If they fall out of the nest they can sometimes not find their way back so keep an eye on them. The babies will start to nibble on hay and pellets. Around ten days of age, baby rabbits will start eating their mother’s cecotropes. Cecotropes or night feces, as they’re called, is clustered soft gel-like fecal matter. It’s round like a berry. They’re full of proteins, vitamins, and fiber. Cecotropes are an essential part of a rabbit’s diet. The mother’s cecotropes provide nutrition and actually inoculate the babies gut with important flora that’s needed to digest their diet that’s changing from only milk to milk and solid foods.
Five to Eight Weeks 5-8
The kits will eat a lot, and grow like crazy. There are differing opinions about the best age to wean baby bunnies. Many breeders wean as early as 5 weeks, but those who oppose say it’s too early for the bunnies to stop nursing since nursing provides the necessary antibodies the baby needs. At this age babies often hop out of the nest repeatedly so breeders feel this is a sign they’re ready to leave.
Tips For Caring For Baby Bunnies At Birth
Baby bunnies, or kits, are born with their eyes close, deaf and without hair. They’ve been described as looking like a small purple rodent. When a kit is born, the first thing you need to do is to check each bunny in the litter. Pick up each bunny to feel if it’s warm. They are born without any hair. So,this is important since the babies will die if they get cold. If there’s a dead baby, take this one away from the litter, but sometimes when baby bunnies get cold they go into a sort of hibernation. You can actually try to resuscitate them. First, try to warm them up. You can put them next to your skin on your chest or stomach so that your body temperature warms them. Some people recommend putting their bodies in warm water, keeping their head above water of course. Dry them off with a towel once they start moving. Other bunny caregivers have used hair dryers to warm up a cold, dead looking bunny. Once they are warm, they can join their litter in the nest.
Next, give each bunny a once over to see if they have any missing body parts or have physical injuries. After you’ve done these few simple things, put each baby back in the nest.
The mother rabbit will take over caring for her baby bunnies. Nursing doesn’t begin right away, usually it’s at least 24 hours later. Mother rabbits don’t lie down in their nest to nurse like a dog might. Instead, she stands over the baby bunnies to nurse them. She also cleans them, licking their bellies and bottoms to help stimulate elimination. Be sure to give mama rabbit a little treat like parsley or apples leaves or carrot tops. She’s earned it!
Tips For Caring For Baby Bunnies A Few Days Old
Keep checking each baby bunny several times a day over the next few days. They should have little extended stomachs if they’re getting fed enough. Their skin all over their bodies should not be as wrinkled as at birth. Instead, their skin should be more filled out. Be sure that none of the babies got separated from the rest of the litter. Sometimes they wiggle into a corner of the nest. Typically, mother rabbits don’t move their babies so it’s up to the babies to find their way to their mother. They aren’t always good at this especially at first. So if you find a stray baby move it up close to the doe. If one of the babies isn’t eating enough you might need to help out. Turn mama rabbit over and place the baby on her nipple and let it nurse. This won’t bother the mother rabbit and the baby will get the idea about how to nurse.
What If The Mother Rabbit Isn’t Caring For The Baby Bunnies?
Mother rabbits rarely abandon their babies, but if you think the mother is ignoring her kits or she’s not feeding them, there are a few things you can do. Sometimes young or nervous rabbit mothers do abandon their litter. Sometimes it’s because her health is poor or because the kits are unhealthy. If you think the mother rabbit isn’t feeding her kits you need to investigate to be sure. Mother rabbits only feed their young one or two times in a twelve hour period. And they nurse their babies when it’s dark-either early morning or late at night. So you might not see the mother feed her young. But there are a couple of things you can do to see if she has, in fact, abandoned her babies.
First, check to see if the babies are cold or crying for longer than a few minutes? Pinch the skin on the nape of their neck to see if it sticks together. If the skin sticks together, they are dehydrated. If it’s obvious that they’re not being fed or in danger, you will need to take care of them. You will first need to remove the mother from the nest so the baby bunnies won’t get hurt.
How To Feed Abandoned Baby Bunnies
You can feed your baby bunnies KMR( Kitten Replacement) or goat milk from a pet store. Also, you should add in a tablespoon of heavy whipping cream to each can of KMR. Use a sterile syringe like the kind you get from a pharmacist, to feed them this formula. Feed the babies twice a day. Keep an eye on their little stomachs to be sure they are extended and their skin is filling out nicely. This will indicate they’re eating enough. To keep their gut healthy, you can also add Acidophilus to eat bit of formula.
Besides feeding the newborn abandoned baby bunny you will need to help it go to the bathroom This is done by using a cotton ball or soft cloth that’s been dipped in warm water and gently stroke the baby’s genital area. This should cause the baby to poop and urinate. Keep stroking until the baby finishes. This replicates the mother rabbit’s habit of licking her babies to stimulate them to go to the bathroom
Tips For Caring For Baby Bunnies At One to Seven Weeks
During these first few weeks, the babies will continue to fatten up and their fur will grow in. They will start to move around a lot. Baby bunnies get even more active as they get older, trying to get in and out of their nest.
Continue to handle the babies regularly. This helps them get accustomed to human contact. This will make weaning easier and less stressful for the baby. Rabbits that have been held from the time they were a babies seems to have less anxiety around humans later in the their lives.
Keep their nest clean and dry by removing any poop and urine. Replace with fresh bedding straw. Mother rabbits line their nests with their fur. If the fur is clean, put it back into the nest. This will make her and the babies more comfortable.
Also add extra hay to the hay rack. Baby bunnies start to nibble on their mother’s hay and pellets which is good for their own developing digestive tract. They will begin nibbling on hay found in their nest around 2 to 3 weeks of age. At three to four weeks, they will eat the same food as their mother rabbit plus nursing.
As mentioned, the baby bunnies will begin eating their mother’s cecptrprope or night feces. This can be shocking since they will eat the feces right as it comes out of the mother’s anus. Fortunately, mother’s cecotropes give the bunnies the nutrition and protection a baby bunny’s gut needs to digest food.
About the third week, the babies eyes should open. Check for eye infections which are common in newborn baby bunnies. The infection can be treated with Neosporin eye drops from the vet. It’s important to treat the eye infection immediately because the baby could end up blind when it’s older.
Look at the baby bunnies behinds to see if they are clean and there’s so sign of diarrhea. At this age the kits can sometimes have loose bowels. Their guts tend to be sensitive and they can get bacterial infections easily at this age. This is because they no longer get the mother’s milk enzymes all the time. Their bodies are developing the necessary pH. Also if a baby bunny gets more grain rather than hay fiber, they are prone to gut issues that allow toxins to grow quickly in their guts.
Tips For Caring For Baby Bunnies At Week Eight Weaning
Weaning means that the baby bunnies are removed from their mother and have stopped nursing entirely. Besides the baby bunnies being eight weeks old, there are other signs it’s time to wean your baby rabbits.
- Mother rabbit might nip at the babies when they try to nurse. This means she’s done nursing. She can actually hurt the baby so if you see her nipping, act quickly.
- If the mother rabbit is backing up to her male babies as if she’s ready to breed, remove the babies. It’s her hormones setting in, getting her ready to breed again so there needs to be immediate separation between the mother and babies or you’ll have another litter in 30 days!
- Mother rabbits
sometimes just quit nursing babies around 7 to 8 weeks. They might be pregnant
or just need a break from the kits.
- It’s often easiest to remove the mother from the nest rather than the babies. Put mother rabbit in a separate cage or hutch. This will help the mother rabbit’s milk to dry up.
By now the babies are eating exclusively what adult rabbits eat. Although many people suggest weaning baby bunnies around four or five weeks, it’s best to wean not to wean the babies from their mother until closer to eight to maximize the nutrition they can get from their mother rabbit.
Baby bunnies who are weaned prior to eight weeks have a high risk of developing enteritis. Enteritis is an inflammation of the rabbit’s intestinal lining. It’s the leading cause of baby bunnies’ death that have been weaned early.
Don’t wait too much longer than eight weeks or they’ll start breeding because male rabbits are sexually mature at ten weeks. You can also separate males from females to guard against unwanted breeding.
In any case of domestic rabbit babies, do not remove the babies until they are a full eight weeks of age. Separate the male babies from the females at this time. Males can become sexually mature as early as ten weeks !It’s often a good idea to neuter and spay the babies around this time since they are able to breed. One pair of mature rabbits with their offspring can produce more than 200 babies in a year. To offset unwanted breeding, be diligent about altering the bunnies no later than 10 weeks.
Best Baby Bunny Diet
When you’re feeding your baby bunnies, be careful to be consistent in the amount of food and kind of foods you give them. They are sensitive to food changes, they get sick easily. Choose good quality foods for your baby bunny so he’ll grow and develop the way he should.
Your baby bunny’s diet should consist of hay such as timothy or grass hays, water and fresh vegetables. Like adult rabbits, hay is the most important part of the baby rabbit’s diet. It provides the fiber your baby bunny needs. Hay should make up at least 50% of the baby rabbit’s diet to guarantee proper digestion and good gut health. You can also give your baby bunny alfalfa. It’s high in protein and calcium which is important for young rabbits development. In fact, alfalfa is best for younger rabbits because it’s too rich for older rabbits. One caution: if you’re feeding your baby bunny alfalfa, be sure to mix it with hay. Bunnies tend to love alfalfa so much they won’t want to eat anything else.
Protein Requirements For Baby Bunnies
If you choose to feed your baby bunny dry food, be aware of their need for extra protein compared to adult rabbits. Read the label on the rabbit food. Some brands of rabbit food have junior rabbit food for young rabbits.
|Age of Rabbit||Protein Requirements|
|Baby bunnies up to seven months||16% protein|
|Adult rabbits seven months and up||12-14%|
Tips For What Vegetables Baby Bunnies Can Eat
Baby bunnies need vegetables for vitamins and roughage. Introduce vegetables one at a time to prevent stomach upset for their sensitive tummies. Slowly adding new foods allows the gut bacteria to adapt. Keep an eye out for overly soft stools or diarrhea. If they happens to pull back on the vegetables and add more hay to their diet. Baby rabbits can eat leafy greens such as spinach, spring greens, raspberry and blackberry leaves, parsley, carrots tops, kale, and herbs. Skip fruits until your baby bunny is older. Give your baby bunny fresh, clean water every day. Keep his water bowl or bottle clean, sanitize these regularly. Bunnies need lots of water to help their digestive tract function properly.
Baby bunnies often need a little help from you to survive the first two months of life. Hopefully, these tips will give you the necessary information you’ll need to be a great baby bunny caregiver. It’s not too hard, job, but one you’ll enjoy as you watch your baby bunny grow and develop day by day. Enjoy the process.