There are many parts of a rabbit’s body that are unique. Their large ears which go upright when listening for sound are one quality we think of when imagining a rabbit. The little cotton tail is another signature trait of a rabbit. While there are plenty of qualities exclusive to the rabbit, we may find ourselves wondering if rabbits have common characteristics, like eyelids, belly buttons, or nails. A common mystery is whether rabbits have umbilical cords or not.
Yes, rabbits do have umbilical cords. All mammals have umbilical cords, unless they are marsupials or monotremes. In the wild, it is often gnawed off by the mother.
I will be discussing what an umbilical cord is used for, as well as other important facts about newborn rabbits.
What is the Umbilical Cord Useful for in Rabbits? The Umbilical Cord can be Considered a “Life-Line,” in a Baby Rabbit Who is Growing in Their Mother’s Stomach. The Cord Enables the Baby to Receive Vital Nutrients, as Well as Move Around Freely in the Mother’s Body. This is Why the Umbilical Cord is Vital for Any Mammal Who Births Their Babies.
The umbilical cord connects the baby in their mother’s womb to their mother. The umbilical cord attaches from an opening in the baby’s stomach. The job of the umbilical cord is to carry oxygen, as well as nutrients through the placenta and into the baby’s bloodstream.
Placental mammals, who feed their babies through an umbilical cord through pregnancy, make up the majority of mammals. These animals will have belly buttons.
Placental mammals carry their babies in their womb, while nourishing them through the placenta. The placenta is a pancake-shaped organ that will temporarily act as the baby’s lungs. The placenta acts as the lungs until the system such as digestion, and kidney are able to function alone.
After a mammal gives birth, they will often chew the umbilical cord off of their baby, eating it in the process. The mother may ingest the placenta, and some amniotic fluid as well. While the mother is cleaning their baby after birth, they naturally take in some of this fluid, however, there are other benefits.
If an animal is a prey animal, they may consume the placenta, cord, and amniotic fluid as a way to hide their scent from predators. Consuming the after-birth will also help the mother replace nutrients she may have lost while giving birth.
What Else Should You Know About Newborn Rabbits? Since Rabbits Have a Fairly Unique Way of Caring for Their Young, it is Not Uncommon for People to Think Baby Rabbits have been Orphaned by Their Mothers, When They Have Not. It is Important to Understand the Way Baby Rabbits Are Cared for and Other Useful Information, So You Are Able to Treat them Properly.
Wildlife rehabilitators get calls every day reporting rabbits who have been orphaned. People may notice a baby rabbit alone for long periods of time without their mother and become concerned that they have been rejected. This is typically not what is going on.
A doe may build a nest for her babies; however, she does not cover her babies like a chicken. After the initial preparation the rabbit will leave the nest, and only return for feeding times. The doe will try to avoid the nest as much as possible, because they fear their presence will attract predators.
The babies will burrow to the bottom of the nest, where they will remain safe and hidden from predators. They will not leave the nest or come out from the burrow. The mother will come back at dawn or dusk to wake the babies and feed them. She usually only visits her young around 2-3 times per day, and each visit is kept to a time-span of minutes.
The first nursing from a mother rabbit to her babies will usually happen the night after she has given birth. It is rare that a mother rabbit feeds her babies immediately after giving birth. The milk from the mother can sustain the babies for up to 24 hours.
The mother also does not lie in the nest with her babies as a cat or dog may. She stands over the nest to feed them. This allows her to escape quickly if there is any sign of danger, and she does not get too comfortable since her visits are short.
While the mother is visiting, she will clean and lick the babies, similar to how a cat may.
Too often, a human will decide to get involved with a baby rabbit, because they fear the baby has been abandoned. There are steps that should be taken before any action is taken:
- For proof that a baby rabbit is being cared for,
look at their condition.
- A baby rabbit who is being taken care of by their mom will have a round belly, they will be warm, and they will be gaining weight.
- A criss-cross pattern of grass or other vegetation can be set up on the nest, and if it is moved then you know the mother has visited.
It is very rare for a mother rabbit to abandon or ignore her babies. Abandonment usually happens when a very immature rabbit gives birth, and she will often forget to build a nest for her young in this case.
If you fear any baby rabbits have been abandoned, call your local wildlife rehabilitator before getting involved or moving the babies from their nest.
Yes, Rabbits do Have Umbilical Cords. All Placental Mammals Have Umbilical Cords, as this is Essential for Delivery of Vital Nutrients During Pregnancy.
Some mothers may choose to chew off the umbilical cord at birth and eat it, along with the placenta and amniotic fluid. This prevents the attraction of predators, as well as provides extra nutrients the mother may need after giving birth.
Overall, baby rabbits have many similarities to other animals, but also many characteristics that make them unique.