You may have just found a nest of baby rabbits in the wild, or your pet rabbit may have had an unexpected litter. Normally the mother will take good care of the babies even if you don’t know it, but sometimes the mother may die, get sick, or try to hurt the babies. In this case, you may have to take care of them.
What do baby rabbits eat and drink? Babies should only have formula until 3 weeks, and then can start eating hay and pellets. At 8 weeks they should only eat hay and pellets, and at 3 months they can start eating vegetables.
How Long Does a Mother Feed Her Babies?
Mother rabbits feed their babies at nighttime when it is safe for them to go to their nest. During the rest of the day, the mother will stay away from the nest to keep predators away from her babies. This may make it look like she is not caring for them, but she’s actually doing what’s safest for them! Rabbit mothers usually feed the babies once or twice a day for about 5 minutes at a time at most. This is more than enough time for the babies to get their fill and get full and hydrated. Babies will continue to nurse even after they start eating hay, and are not fully weaned until about 8 weeks old, when they will stop drinking their mother’s milk and switch to a mostly adult diet.
What’s in a Rabbit’s Milk?
Rabbit’s milk is very high calorie because baby rabbits need the energy to grow and develop. It also contains all the bacteria that need to live in a baby rabbit’s gut to help its digestive system run smoothly when it gets older. The mother’s milk provides all the nutrients the baby rabbit needs in order to survive until it is weaned and starts eating hay and grass. Rabbit’s milk contains:
- 12.2% fat
- 10.4% protein
- 1.8% lactose
It’s important if you’re feeding a rabbit to try to match these proportions as much as possible to help ease any digestive distress. This is why cat formula is usually better than other formulas. It contains 10.9% fat, 11.1% protein, and 3.4% lactose.
What if a Mother Stops Feeding Her Babies?
The most frequent reason a mother will no longer be able to feed her babies in the wild is because she is seriously injured or dead. It’s very hard to tell if this is true because mother rabbits will only visit the nest a few times a day. You should be absolutely certain the mother will not come back before you attempt to rescue any wild rabbit babies. You can tell whether the mother is visiting by checking the bellies of the baby rabbits to see if they’re full. You can also pinch the skin at the back of their neck, and if it flattens out within about a second, that means the babies are hydrated and being cared for.
If the mother completely stops feeding the babies, they will die. Babies that are not being fed will be bluish in color, have very wrinkled skin, and have shrunken bellies. In this situation, it is okay to intervene. If the rabbits are wild, you should contact a local rabbit rescue or animal organization to see if they can take in the babies and nurse them back to health.
Do Domestic and Wild Baby Rabbits Eat the Same Things?
Domestic and wild rabbits can eat the same formula while nursing but in different amounts (see table below). Once they get older and start eating solid food, both domestic and wild rabbits should eat high-calorie hay like alfalfa hay. This is different from what a rabbit would eat in the wild, but is better and more nutritious for the rabbit regardless of whether it’s wild or domestic. You should incorporate greens into a wild rabbit’s diet much earlier than you would into a domestic rabbit’s diet, usually as soon as the rabbit starts eating hay and pellets. This doesn’t mean that you should feed the wild rabbit vegetables, but instead means you should feed it leafy greens like dandelions, carrot tops, or herbs like parsley. The domestic rabbit won’t start eating leafy greens until much later.
What Do You Feed Baby Rabbits That Are Still Nursing?
If you need to feed a baby rabbit, do not feed it human formula or puppy formula. You can feed it kitten formula (kitten milk replacer) or organic goat’s milk mixed with a probiotic powder. If you have other rabbits, an alternative is to mix in the nutritious cecotrope, or night poop, to integrate the right bacteria into their digestive system. You only need to give them the cecotrope once every four to five days.
There are many recipes out there for rabbit formula, and you can determine your own if you like. Here are some simple examples to help:
- 1 cup of KMR liquid
- 1/2 cup of Multi-Milk powder
- 1.5 Tbsp of freeze dried colostrum
A more complicated recipe:
- 1/2 cup of whole goat milk
- 1/2 cup of Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR)
- 1.5 Tbsp of freeze dried colostrum
- 3 cc of heavy cream
Colostrum is a substance rich in immunoglobins and contains antibodies that fight off any foreign bacteria that may have made their way into the baby rabbit’s gut. It’s an important ingredient in the formula to make sure that the baby rabbits survive in good health.
How Do You Feed Baby Rabbits That Are Still Nursing?
You should use a small syringe without a needle to push the formula into the baby rabbit’s mouth. The baby should be upright so that you are pointing the syringe down and at an angle to the rabbit’s mouth so that if you overfeed, the rabbit doesn’t choke. Fill the syringe up with formula and push it slowly into the rabbit’s mouth, pausing periodically to let the baby swallow, until you’ve fed the rabbit the correct amount of formula.
If you are uncomfortable pushing the formula into the baby’s mouth, you can look for a bottle nipple small enough for the baby rabbit to use and attach it to the end of the syringe. Then the baby can nurse as normal until the formula is gone. It’s possible to find squirrel-sized feeders at rescues or pet stores, and some doll bottles may be small enough.
How Much Food Do I Give a Baby Rabbit?
The biggest danger to baby rabbits is overfeeding. You should always err on the side of less formula because it’s easy to feed them more if necessary but very difficult to save a baby rabbit from bloating or choking.Wild rabbits and domestic rabbits also eat different amounts of food at different stages.
|Age||Amount of Food|
|Newborn-1 week||2cc/twice a day|
|1-2 weeks||5-7cc/twice a day|
|2-3 weeks||7-13cc/twice a day (begin feeding hay)|
|3-6 weeks||13-15cc/twice a day|
|6-9 weeks||13-15cc (Jackrabbits only)|
|Age||Amount of Food|
|Newborn-1 week||2cc/twice a day|
|1-2 weeks||6-7cc/twice a day|
|2-3 weeks||12-13cc/twice a day (begin feeding hay)|
|3-6 weeks||13-15cc/twice a day|
|6-9 weeks||13-15cc/twice a day (mix with water)|
These numbers are guidelines only and may vary depending on the size of the rabbit. For small rabbits, you may need to reduce the amount of formula by as much as half. Always feed the baby slowly and watch for signs that it is full.
What Do I Do if a Baby Rabbit Starts Aspirating/Choking While I’m Feeding It?
One of the most common ways for baby animals to die while being hand-fed is aspiration. This is when a baby doesn’t swallow the formula correctly and the liquid gets into its lungs and essentially drowns it. If the baby begins to aspirate while you are feeding it, you can attempt to save it by holding the baby in the palm of your hand with its head pointing towards your fingertips. Put your other hand over the baby and hold it securely, then stand up and raise your hands to your chest. Swing your hands downwards firmly but gently between your knees. Do not drop the baby! This should force the fluid out of the baby’s lungs and allow it to breathe again.
When Do Baby Rabbits Start Eating Hay?
You should first introduce hay into a baby rabbit’s diet at around 3 weeks. Introduce the hay slowly, and allow the baby to get used to eating the new food. You should continue to feed the baby formula while you are introducing the hay, as the rabbit is not yet ready to be weaned off of the formula. You should switch the baby over to hay completely at about 8-9 weeks and remove the formula from their diet by diluting it with water until they no longer show interest in it. From then on out, only feed them hay and pellets until they are old enough to eat fruits and vegetables.
What Kind of Hay Should Baby Rabbits Eat?
Start off with alfalfa hay and pellets, as these are high in calories as well as nutrients. The baby rabbit needs these to survive and grow in these early stages. The baby should eat alfalfa hay for about seven months, at which point they’ll switch over to timothy hay, oat hay, or orchard grass. These hays are lower calorie, which is better for adult rabbits who aren’t growing so quickly, but they still provide the nutrients and fiber the rabbit needs to stay healthy. You can get hay from local farms or online
How Much Hay Should You Feed a Baby Rabbit?
Give the baby rabbits unlimited access to hay. You should provide it in containers that are within easy reach of the baby rabbits so that once they are mobile they can go and eat as much as they want whenever they are hungry. Rabbits need to eat a lot of food in order to keep their digestive system moving constantly, so they will eat all the time, including while they’re going to the bathroom. They instinctually know how to regulate the amount of food they’re eating and even from a young age will eat what they need without hurting themselves.
When Can Baby Rabbits Start Eating Vegetables?
Baby rabbits can start eating vegetables at around 3 months old. You should introduce the vegetables slowly into their diet to avoid causing any gastrointestinal distress. Start with leafy greens like dark lettuces (not iceberg), spinach, or kale in small amounts. Make sure you only introduce one vegetable at a time. Don’t start to feed baby rabbits sweeter vegetables like carrots or broccoli until they are mature, usually around 7 months old. This is because these vegetables can cause gas and bloating, which are especially dangerous to a young rabbit. You should introduce these types of vegetables slowly later on.
When Can Baby Rabbits Start Eating Fruits?
Never feed a baby rabbit fruit. You should wait until the rabbit is at least 7 months old, which is typically the age at which rabbits are considered to be juveniles instead of kits. At this point, you can introduce one fruit at a time slowly, to make sure your rabbit doesn’t have any digestive issues. If any appear, stop feeding the fruit immediately and wait a few weeks before trying to feed fruit again.
How Often Do Baby Rabbits Use the Bathroom?
Rabbits less than two weeks old can’t use the bathroom by themselves. Each time you feed them, you will need to stimulate them so that they poop and pee after eating; this is extremely important to make sure their bladder doesn’t rupture.
To do so, take a wet cotton ball and gently stroke their anal area until you see poop and pee start to come out. Keep doing this until the rabbit is completely finished. You’ll probably want to do this over a towel or other cover, as it’s going to be pretty gross and messy. You’ll need to do this every time you feed the baby until a few days after its eyes open, which usually around 10 days. Make sure that the baby is now peeing and pooping on its own, and if it’s not, then continue the process until it can. It’s important to be very gentle when you’re doing this, as rubbing too hard can cause redness and irritation.
Once the baby rabbits are going on their own, you should see them peeing and pooping regularly, including while they’re eating. They’ll begin to produce a hundred or more pellets a day once they’re eating hay and pellets regularly.
What Foods Aren’t Safe for a Baby Rabbit?
Until a rabbit is about 3 weeks old, it’s not safe to feed it anything other than formula. Any other foods, including hay and pellets at this age, are not safe and will cause serious digestive issues. Once the rabbit reaches 8-9 weeks of age, it’s no longer healthy to feed it formula and it should be weaned off. You shouldn’t feed baby rabbits fruits or vegetables until they’re old enough, which will be around 3 months for vegetables and 7 months for fruit.
It’s never safe to feed a rabbit foods like bread or meat no matter what its age. These foods can cause GI stasis, a dangerous disorder that causes a rabbit’s digestive system to stop completely. This can be caused by feeding a baby rabbit any sugary, starchy, or high-protein foods.
What Drinks Aren’t Safe for a Baby Rabbit?
You shouldn’t give a baby rabbit anything to drink besides formula and water. Water should only be given mixed with the formula while weaning the baby rabbit off, and after the baby has been weaned off of the formula as their regular drink. You shouldn’t give a rabbit human formula and should only use small amounts of cow’s milk or puppy formula due to the large differences in composition. You should never give a baby rabbit vegetable or fruit juice, as these contain added sugars that can be very dangerous for a young rabbit.
When should I spay or neuter my baby rabbit? Male rabbits can be spayed starting at about 12 weeks and female rabbits can be spayed starting at around 6 months. It’s important to spay or neuter your rabbit as early as possible to keep bad habits from forming.
How much does a baby rabbit cost? Depending on the source, baby rabbits can cost anywhere from $5-250. This doesn’t include the price of a cage, toys, a bed, a litter box, or food to start out.
How do I know what sex my baby rabbit is? It’s very difficult to tell whether your rabbit is male or female until the testicles drop on the male, which is around 12 weeks. You can have your rabbit checked by a breeder or vet to see what sex your rabbit is before then.