Care and feeding of baby rabbits

Feeding Your Rabbit | VCA Animal Hospital

Rabbits are herbivores (plant eaters) and are considered grazers, in that they eat continuously. They have complex digestive systems and are very efficient at processing food. They also have very specific dietary needs. If you introduce new foods too quickly, or feed inappropriate food choices, the rabbit's normal digestive flora (normal bacteria) will be disturbed, gas- and toxin-producing bacteria can overgrow, and the rabbit may become very sick and possibly die.

What do rabbits eat?

Rabbits should have a daily diet of mostly hay, a smaller amount of fresh vegetables, and a limited number of pellets. Hay is the most important part of a rabbit's daily intake. Unlimited, high-quality grass hay, such as Timothy, orchard or brome, should make up the bulk of a rabbit's diet. Grass hay is high in fiber, which is critical to maintaining a rabbit’s healthy digestive tract. While young, growing rabbits can eat any type of grass hay, alfalfa hay is not recommended for adult rabbits, as it is too rich in protein and too high in calcium.

Timothy pellets can be offered at approximately 1/8-1/4 cup per 5 lbs (2.25 kg) of bodyweight. Over-feeding pellets to adult rabbits is a common cause of obesity and soft stool (caused by an overgrowth of abnormal bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract), as pellets are generally low in fiber and high in carbohydrates. In addition to hay, wild rabbits eat a lot of other fresh vegetation.

A pet rabbit's diet should be supplemented with a variety of leafy green vegetables every day. Rabbits can consume as many vegetables as they want to each day as long as they do not get diarrhea and as long as the vegetables are not high in carbohydrates, as carrots and potatoes are. Variety is important. Introduce new vegetables slowly and in small quantities, and monitor for soft feces, diarrhea, or signs of gas pain.

"Carrots should be fed sparingly, as they are very high in carbohydrate and may upset GI bacterial flora."

Particularly good vegetables include the dark leafy greens like romaine lettuce, bok choy, mustard greens, carrot tops, cilantro, watercress, basil, kohlrabi, beet greens, broccoli greens, and cilantro.

Some leafy greens, such as collard and dandelion greens, parsley, kale, Swiss chard, and escarole, should be fed in limited quantities, as they are high in calcium and may contribute to the development of calcium-based bladder stones if fed in excess. Other acceptable vegetables include broccoli, green peppers, Brussel sprouts, endive, wheat grass, radicchio, and squash. Iceberg or head lettuce should not be fed, as it is mainly water and contains few nutrients.

Carrots should be fed sparingly, as they are very high in carbohydrate and may upset GI bacterial flora. A small amount of many different vegetables is much better than a large amount of one food item.

Young rabbits, under approximately 7-8 months old, should be fed alfalfa pellets and alfalfa hay free-choice; they need the extra protein and calcium as they grow. They, too, can have a variety of vegetables. At approximately 7 months, they must be weaned onto an adult diet, as described above, since their growth slows down.

How often should I feed my rabbit?

Rabbits should be fed and provided with fresh water daily; hay should always be available. As nibblers, they should have food available at all times.

Do I need to give my rabbit vitamins?

No, rabbits do not require extra vitamins. They just need a varied, high-fiber diet.

Can I offer my rabbit treats?

Yes, but first be sure to check with your veterinarian about the types of treats that are recommended. Rabbits certainly can become overweight if fed an abundance of high-calorie treats. Cookies, nuts, seeds, grains, and bread should not be fed to rabbits.

"Cookies, nuts, seeds, grains, and bread should not be fed to rabbits."

Fruits can be fed in very limited quantities – no more than 1-2 tablespoons of high-fiber fresh fruit (such as apple, pear, or berries) every 1-2 days. The high sugar content in fruits (and even carrots) may upset the normal GI tract bacteria if given in excess.

What are the water requirements of rabbits?

Fresh water should be available 24 hours a day. Some rabbits prefer water bowls, and others prefer sipper bottles. If you offer water in a sipper bottle, be sure to inspect it for clogs and fill it with clean water daily. If you offer your rabbit water in a bowl, make sure the rabbit does not spill it in its cage or soil it with feces.

Is there anything else I should know?

Rabbits need to chew to maintain the health of their continuously growing teeth. Chew toys should always be available; hard wooden chew toys (blocks and sticks) and cardboard are best.

"Rabbits engage in coprophagy, which means they eat their own feces."

Rabbits engage in coprophagy, which means they eat their own feces. This occurs at night, and these fecal pellets are different from the ones normally excreted and seen by the owners. They are called cecotropes, cecal droppings, nocturnal droppings, or night droppings. They are usually small, soft or pasty, darker, and have a strong fermented or sweet smell. These pellets serve as a rich source of nutrients for the rabbit, specifically protein and vitamins B and K. Most owners never observe this behavior, as it happens in the early hours of the morning. If you do, remember that it is normal and necessary for the health of your rabbit.

Caring for Newborn Baby Rabbits


It’s that time of year again. Wild babies everywhere. But are they at risk?

Wild rabbits hide their nests in plain view, often in the middle of your yard, bushes, etc. If you find a nest that has been disturbed, do the best you can to restore it and leave the babies in there. If a dog discovers the nest, do your best to restore it (with grass, leaves, whatever mama has used), make sure the kits are in there, and find a way to keep the dog(s) away from the nest. Mama will return for her babies and taking them away will seriously decrease their chance of survival. If you do not see the mama—DON’T WORRY—they only nurse their babies a few minutes a day, then they stay away so as to not draw predators to the nest.

If a kit is injured or an animal brings you an injured baby, if you have no choice but to help a baby, please do not try to care or it yourself—-get it to a rabbit vet or a wildlife rehabilitator

  • Local wildlife rehabilitator:
  • List of rabbit vets:

The best thing you can do for wild babies is to leave them alone (restored to the nest) or, if injured, get them to a rabbit vet or wildlife rehabilitator.



Make the babies a soft nest area in a box with clean towels. We like to put one folded towel on the bottom and another bunched on top of that, so the babies can snuggle into it. You can also purchase soft nesting wool from a pet store and put that on top of the towel. You can also take whatever nesting material they were in and put it in the box as well. Cover the box almost entirely with a light towel, making sure that there will be enough air so the babies do not suffocate. Leaving about a one inch gap at the top is usually sufficient. Keep the babies in an out-of-the way, QUIET area, such as an adult’s bedroom. If the room temperature is between 68-72 degrees you will not need to provide extra heat, but if it’s cooler than that you will need to provide extra warmth. Use a heating pad set on low and slip it under one half only of the box. We do it this way so that the babies can move to a cooler area if it gets too warm. DO NOT put babies directly on heating pad, as babies can burn themselves very badly.

If the babies were with their mamma, but she is not caring for them (and you are sure she is ignoring them) you may need to separate her from them so they will not get hurt. Rabbit milk is very caloric and the kittens (baby rabbits) only nurse for a few minutes a day, so if you think that she is not caring for them based only on the fact you don’t see them feed…think again. If you do think they are being neglected, you can check: Are they cold? Are they making crying sounds for more than a few minutes before (or at) feeding time? Are they blue? Is the skin shriveled? Check for dehydration: gently pinch together the skin at the nape of the neck. If it sticks together or stays in a tent, they are dehydrated. A healthy kit has a round belly, is warm, gains weight on a daily basis, and snuggles with its litter mates. If they are dehydrated, cold, losing weight or becoming injured, of course, something must be done


Baby rabbits should be fed Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR) or goat milk, which you can buy at pet stores, or sometimes even a local veterinarian’s office. Because rabbit milk is the most caloric of all mammals, we add in one tablespoon of 100% heavy whipping cream (no sugar) to each can of KMR. Most kits will not nurse from the baby animal bottles you can buy at stores. Instead, use a sterile oral syringe, which can be purchased at most pharmacies. A better alternative are these nipples, which come the a syringe, but you may not be able to find them locally/right away (link).

It is best to feed baby rabbits no more than twice a day, but sometimes it takes more feedings to get an adequate amount into them, especially at first.

How much to feed varies greatly on what breed of rabbit you are feeding, and how big the kit is, but here is a basic guideline for the daily amount to feed a domestic rabbit who will be approximately 5-6 pounds as an adult (average rabbit size). You can increase the amounts as needed for larger breeds.

To help the kits maintain healthy gut bacteria, go to your local health food store (and get a bottle of ACIDOPHILUS. Ask for the capsules that have the “grainy stuff” inside (they are easier to mix than the “powdery stuff”) and add a bit to the formula at each feeding.

ALL amounts below should be divided into two feedings per day.

  • Newborn – 1 week
    • 4-5 cc formula
  • 1-2 weeks
    • 10-15 cc formula
  • 2-3 weeks
    • 15-30 cc formula
  • 3-6 weeks, until weaned
    • 30 cc formula


Baby rabbits feed from their mothers while lying on their backs. You may loosely wrap baby in a soft face cloth or hand towel and lay it on your lap or in the crook of your arm. If bunny will NOT eat this way, of course, do the best you can. It is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL to let the baby eat at it’s own pace—especially if it is not suckling from the syringe willingly. If you squirt the liquid in too quickly you can aspirate (get liquid in) the lungs and the rabbit will suffocate.

Until their eyes open (10 days): After each feeding it is important to make the bunny defecate and urinate to keep the intestinal tract and urinary system running smoothly. Use a soft cloth or a cotton ball moistened with warm water and gently stroke the genital area until the bunny starts producing stool and urine. Keep stroking until the bunny stops. You are replicating the behavior of the mother rabbit who would lick her young to stimulate them to go to the bathroom. The stool will be soft and may be varying shades of green and yellow. If the urine is brown and gritty, the buns are not adequately hydrated and you need to get them to a rabbit vet ASAP—-it is an emergency. Be sure to clean baby’s mouth with a damp cloth or paper towel, so that no milk dries in the hair.

Baby rabbit eyes open at about 10 days of age. You may start introducing them to hay and pellets at this point, but no veggies or fruits yet. Just leave some timothy or orchard and alfalfa hay and pellets in a corner of the box where the babies can easily get to them. Make sure it the pellets are plain, high fiber and fresh, with no added goodies such as dried banana chips or seeds. Don’t ever leave a deep water dish in which a baby could drown; instead, use something shallow and rinse and fill it frequently.

If you have any questions, please contact us.


Baby rabbit care

So, you are the happy owner of a pair of rabbits who are about to become parents. What you need to know about caring for rabbits to be fully equipped? Let's talk in this article.

There are many rabbits in a litter, about a dozen. They are born naked, deaf and blind. Immediately after giving birth, as soon as the rabbit leaves the nest, first check the condition of the babies. If the mother begins to act aggressively, distract her with a tasty treat. Do not be afraid, you can touch the rabbits, the smell of a person will not affect the mother's attitude towards the brood. nine0003

Dead or sick babies must be removed from the litter to protect the healthy ones. Also, if too many rabbits were born, you can divide the brood, and give some of the babies to a small rabbit. When transplanting, it is important to remove the future stepmother from the cage and put the adopted children in the very center of the brood. Usually the rabbit accepts other people's children without any problems.

Care in the first weeks

The main thing you need to do next is to constantly clean the cage. Hygiene is paramount for babies. nine0003

They do not need to be fed yet, they feed on mother's milk. But it is important to ensure peace and quiet for mother and children, especially during feeding. The rabbit should not be distracted. If the baby has enough milk, his tummy will be elastic and taut, without wrinkles.

If you see that the children remain hungry, you will have to introduce supplementary feeding.

Artificial formula can be prepared with whole milk replacer, ask your veterinarian how to dilute and prepare it correctly. nine0003

During feeding, the mother always regulates the process of defecation in the baby, so if you feed the baby rabbit, then you need to massage his anus.

The main stages of development

A week after birth, the first coat appears in the rabbit, its weight doubles compared to that at birth.

Two weeks later, the baby already looks quite beautiful, his fur has almost grown, his weight has increased fivefold, and his eyes have opened.

After three weeks, the rabbits begin to move around the cage on their own and begin to receive additional food. It is at this stage that the nest box is removed and the cage is disinfected. nine0003

After two months, the rabbit has almost no milk left, this is the right moment to put the babies in another cage.

Deposition in own cells

This process is especially important in the life of babies, this is a time of great stress, weaning from the mother and transition to adult food.

Healthy rabbits are placed first, the weaker ones are left for some time with their mother, they gradually catch up with the taken away brothers and sisters in development.

First, the rabbits are seated 3-4 in a cage. This makes it easier for them to adapt to life without a mother. It is important for babies to be in silence, without unnecessary people and sounds. Sometimes breeders put away a rabbit with weak rabbits, leaving strong ones in an old cage, so they quickly get used to life without a mother. nine0003

The first months of a rabbit's life provide him with the maximum increase in weight and height, which is why it is so important to provide him with the right care during this period of time.

Basic principles of post-laying care

After the babies are in a separate cage, they should not be immediately transferred to another type of food, as it is important to maintain the most familiar conditions for the cubs.

Instead of mother's milk, rabbits can be given oatmeal with skimmed milk powder, as well as fish oil and liquid mashed potatoes. You can also buy special nutrition that is ideal for a growing body. But whatever diet you choose, you need to introduce it gradually, starting with the minimum portions. nine0003

Every animal should be checked once a week to make sure they are healthy. After three months, you can determine the future fate of the rabbit: prepare it for sale or breeding.

What to feed rabbits? Feeding rabbits for rapid growth

Do you raise rabbits for meat or fur? Take care of a balanced and varied diet, because the rapid growth of animals and their precocity depend on it.

Overfeeding and underfeeding will lead to a decrease in the productivity of rabbits. Due to malnutrition, the quality of rabbit meat and skins is deteriorating. The menu should be made taking into account the general condition of the rabbit, its weight, age and season. nine0003

Ears eat a lot. Animals have weak stomach muscles, so food passes into the intestines only when a new portion of food arrives.

What to feed rabbits?

Animals should receive grass, vegetables and cereals, as well as useful elements. You should not feed rabbits with the same type of greenery, as the animals will begin to grow more slowly.

Types of feed:

Greens are the main source of nutrients. This includes various herbs and plants (nettle, plantain, dandelion, clover, alfalfa, sage, etc.), as well as vegetable tops (beets, carrots, peas). Rabbits receive such food only in summer and in moderation (10-20% of the daily diet). nine0003

Succulent foods are products such as root vegetables, vegetables and fruits. They are especially important in winter and early spring, when there is no green grass, because they contain vitamins, carbohydrates, protein and fiber. Succulent feed is 10% of the daily diet.

Rabbits should be given:

  • carrots,
  • beets (in moderate doses),
  • pumpkin,
  • zucchini,
  • potatoes (preferably boiled),
  • nine0077 cabbage (white cabbage - in moderation),
  • watermelons,
  • apples, etc.

Roughage is a source of vitamins, protein and fiber. This is hay and tree branches (pine, willow, maple, acacia, linden, etc.). Eating branches, the animals sharpen their teeth. The food is suitable for winter feeding.

Concentrated feeds include: bran, cereals (oats, wheat, rye, barley, corn), legumes, cake and compound feed. This is half the daily ration of rabbits. nine0003

Animals must always be provided with water. In cold and frosty water should be poured into the drinkers warm.

Feeding rabbits

The diet of animals in winter and summer is different. Nutrition is also changed, based on the physiological state of the animals.

Feeding rates (g/day):

Condition of rabbits








Dry grass

Rabbits at rest






Rabbits in mating







Pregnant rabbits






Lactating females






What is bad for rabbits?

Not all herbs and foods can be given to rabbits. Some plants cause diarrhea or constipation in animals, lead to respiratory diseases and can cause their death.

Prohibited herbs and foods:

poisonous plants (euphorbia, dope, celandine, foxglove, wild radish, etc.) cause poisoning and can lead to death;

sweets provoke the development of diseases of the heart, joints, bones and skin in rabbits;

exotic fruits and vegetables disturb the digestive process in animals (especially if you breed local breeds).

Feeding young animals

The diet of young rabbits generally coincides with that of adults. Animals grow intensively up to 8 or more months (depending on the breed).

Young rabbits should always have clean water in their trough as they need more liquid than adult males and females.

Succulent foods should be introduced into the menu in stages, starting with small proportions (from 4 months of age). At the same time, it is recommended to alternate different types of feed and monitor the condition of the pets. nine0003


PC 92-1. Grass meal grower, for rabbits 5-14 weeks

Feeding rabbits for accelerated growth

In order for individuals to grow quickly, they need to be fed grass or hay, vegetables, cereals and compound feed - 3-4 times a day.


Age of rabbits

Green and succulent foods (g/day)

nine0317 Concentrates (g/day)

1-2 months



3-4 months



5-7 months


nine0317 55




Age of rabbits

Dry grass (g/day)

Root vegetables (g/day)

Concentrates (g/day)

1-2 months




3-4 months




5-7 months



Rabbit fattening

Meat rabbits are most often fattened in autumn and winter.

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