Rabbits feeding their babies
Baby Bunnies | House Rabbit Society
If you find yourself caring for a domestic rabbit that you suspect is pregnant, or has recently given birth you will probably have a million questions. This article addresses not only rehabilitation care, but is also a guide for answering questions and concerns about the proper care of the domestic mother rabbit and her babies and orphaned Rabbits.
- First Things First
- Males or Females?
- Is There A Problem?
- Creating A Nest
- Are They Getting Fed?
- Are The Babies in Danger?
- Feeding Orphaned Baby Rabbits
- More On Feeding Orphaned Baby Rabbits
- As Baby Rabbits Come Of Age
First Things First
The first thing to do is to remove the father, or any male, if he is with the Mother. This is a great time to have the male neutered, while the mother raises the babies.
Males will probably not hurt the babies, but he can impregnate the female again, even on the day she gives birth. Not only can he impregnate the mother rabbit; he will also impregnate the female offspring as soon as they mature.
Males or Females?
Often times, people suddenly discover babies in their rabbits’ cage and never realized that they had a male and a female. Help is often needed to sex adults. We here at The Sanctuary have made mistakes sexing Rabbits, as have Vets we have known. A behavioral attitude, such as mounting, does not necessarily help identify sex in a rabbit. It is usually easy to identify the male once we know what to look for: large testicles, recognized as pink, hairless “sacks.” This can be difficult in young Rabbits, before the testicles drop. The scent glands in a young female can be mistaken for emerging testicles. Males can also pull their testicles in to their abdomen. If you have any doubt, a trip to the Vet may be warranted.
Is There A Problem?
Often times people are concerned that the mother rabbit “is not feeding the babies,” sometimes because she is never seen with them. This is normal behavior for a domestic (or wild) rabbit and that mother rabbits do not “lay” with their offspring in the same manner as dogs and cats.
Domestic rabbits retain some of the genetic imprints of their wild European ancestors, who are animals preyed upon by others in nature. Mother rabbits instinctually sense that staying with their offspring would call a predator’s attention to the nest. Adult rabbits have a scent, while babies do not yest have a strong scent.
Most mother rabbits will not hop into the nest (or box) to check on their infants during the day, although she is usually watching from a safe distance. This is normal behavior.
Rabbits feed their offspring only once or twice per day and will only do so when they feel safe, usually just before dawn and/or just after dusk. If humans and children are continually gathered around the cage, the mother may become too stressed to nurse the infants.
There is a way to determine that the mother is indeed feeding the offspring. Did the mother rabbit pull fur? Did she shred papers, or gather hay or rip up carpeting (if housed indoors) in an attempt to “make a nest?” Mother rabbits usually make a nest any time between a few days prior to the birth up to the day of birth itself. She may also do so without an actual pregnancy.
A mature female will often pull fur to make a nest, with or without a male present and regardless of whether actual mating has occurred. This hormonal behavior is known as a “false pregnancy.”
If the mother has pulled fur in an attempt to make a nest, she will probably be all right if her nest is appropriate. It is safe to examine the babies and move them, with the mother, to a more proper place, if necessary.
Creating A Nest
If the babies are scattered, cold and do not have plump tummies, the mother needs help making a proper nest box, and the babies need to be warmed up before anything else is attempted. No baby mammals can successful digest foods if their body temperature is below normal. This is extremely important to understand.
In this case, warm the babies as follows: Place a hot water bottle, filled with warm water (not hot,) into a small box of any kind. Line it with clean, terry cloth towels and place the bottle UNDER the towels. A small plastic container or a leak-proof plastic bag can be used if necessary. Make a small space within the nest and put the babies within the temporary warming nest.
Be sure the babies are not in direct contact with the warm water (it may become too hot for them.) Be sure that the towels do not have holes in them and are not frayed, because the fine threads could cut their delicate skin and holes could strangle them should they squirm through one.
In the meantime, prepare a proper box and nest for the mother, so she will feel secure when the babies are returned to her. Get a cardboard box, or make a wooden one, which is just slightly larger than the mother rabbit. It should not be too big, or the babies may scatter again and miss that important feeding.
A doorway should be cut in the center of one side, which is just large enough for the mother to fit through. The doorway should have a lip of about one-inch above the floor to help keep the babies in the box (until they are old enough to venture out on their own.)
Place a large handful of straw, grass or hay in the box and place it in a corner of the rabbit cage. Be sure it is not in the corner that she uses as a bathroom! Make sure that grass clippings do not contain any pesticides or fertilizers. Do not use fabric scraps, burlap, gauze or anything else with fine threads or holes in it. The straw/hay should be removed and replaced every three or four days as it may become soaked in urine. This is done by taking the babies out of the box, removing and later replacing most of the clean fur, and changing the rest of the bedding and lining the box with clean bedding.
The babies can be placed into the new nest as soon as their body temperature feels warm to the touch. (ONLY warm the babies if they have been scattered about on the cage floor. If they were huddled together in a good nest site, leave them alone, except to check whether they have been fed.).
Place the mother and the babies in a small, warm, quiet room. Give the mother a litterbox, in the opposite corner of the nest, if she’s placed indoors. If she is not used to being in the house, this may stress her more than being left in her outdoor cage. The only thing to do in that case is add a proper nest area.
Are They Getting Fed?
A well-fed baby will have a very distended tummy, looking like the “Pillsbury Dough Boy.” If the babies’ tummies are full, the mother is feeding them and the caretaker can rest assured. The babies can be examined every day if that will make the caretaker feel more assured.
If the babies have not been fed, they will have sunken tummies, their skin will be wrinkled from dehydration and they will be weak (their response to being handled will be weak or non-existent, although they will hopefully be breathing. ) Scattered babies are more likely not to have been fed, so make sure that they are warm first.
If the babies are weak or dehydrated, veterinary intervention is advised. Placing a drop of honey or fruit jam into their mouths sometimes helps elevate their blood sugar level until veterinary help and/or mother’s milk is available.
At this point, examine the mother for signs of lactation. By gently holding the mother upright, or gently turning her upside down in a lap, the nipples can be examined. They should feel slightly swollen and it is likely that the mother pulled a great deal of fur from her chest and stomach to not only make her nest, but also to better expose the teats for the babies.
Slight pressure in a milking motion should release either small amount of milk or clear fluid. If the mother is lactating, return her to the babies and allow her to calm down and become familiar with her new nest. Examine the babies the next day to make sure that they are being fed.
If the mother is definitely not lactating or has not attempted to pull fur or make a nest, etc. , take the mother to a qualified rabbit-experienced veterinarian immediately. The veterinarian will probably give the mother a small dose of oxytocin, a drug that will stimulate the milk glands. She should nurse within the next 24 hours.
If you feel it is necessary to examine the babies every day to verify that they have been fed, pet the mother rabbit first, to help cover human scents, and avoid wearing heavy perfumes when handling the babies. It is best to handle the babies as little as possible until they are old enough to leave the nest box on their own.
If your concerns begin on the day of the birth, wait a day before attempting to do anything. Some mother rabbits do not feed their babies until the evening of the first day or early on the second day.
If it has been close to two days and you are positive that the babies have not been fed, a veterinarian must be seen immediately. Oxytocin will not produce results if you wait more than forty-eight hours after the birth.
While waiting for a veterinary appointment, try allowing the babies to nurse, as suckling sometimes stimulates the milk glands. If that happens, monitoring the babies’ growth is the only thing that needs to be done. Mother rabbits stand upright while nursing and the babies lie upside down beneath her. Hold the rabbits in this natural position.
Are The Babies in Danger?
If you think that the mother is injuring the babies while kindling (giving birth,) while feeding, or has “cannibalized” any of the babies (eaten them,) several issues should be explored. Sometimes a mother rabbit will accidentally injure the kits because her nails have never been clipped, the nest box is not proper, or she is stressed and skittish by too much activity around her. It is possible, if she is housed outdoors, that neighborhood predators, such as feral cats, raccoons or fox, are causing her anxiety at night. Some rabbits are highly skittish (“fractious”) by nature.
Very young mothers, especially those under six months of age, may not “understand” what has happened to them and veterinary intervention is imperative. Nervous and young mothers sometimes abandon their nestlings for unknown reasons, which may include having produced unhealthy kits. Sometimes the nutritional status of the mother is highly inadequate.
If the mother seems to be cannibalizing the nestlings, nutritional deficiencies are but one of the possible scenarios. It is normal for these vegetarian animals to eat the afterbirth, as it is for most other mammals. It prevents predators from discovering the nest and provides the mother which some much-needed nutrients. Sometimes people confuse this behavior (if it is witnessed) with cannibalism.
Sadly, if the father of the babies is much larger than the female, she could be inadvertently injuring the kits, which are too large for her birth canal, while attempting to free them. Seek immediate veterinary intervention should this be happening. The mother’s life is in danger, as well as the lives of the babies.
If the mother rabbit has died, cannot or is not feeding the babies, you can attempt to hand feeding them. Bottle-feeding infant rabbits usually culminates in the babies’ death within a few days to weeks. Hand feeding is terribly unsuccessful because there is no milk replacement formula that is 100% adapted for infant rabbits. This is also true for native species, such as cottontails. The physiological reasons are complex, and you should have the following information concerning what you will be facing when trying to hand-raise infant bunnies.
Feeding Orphaned Baby Rabbits
The most likely potential disease to cause infant/weanling mortality is mucoid enteritis. Although it does occur occasionally in weanlings who have been fed by their mothers, it is seen much more often in hand-fed babies and those who are removed from their mothers before eight weeks of age. It manifests as severe diarrhea, anorectic behavior (refusal to eat) and may contain blood or mucous. It also causes bloating and gas.
Mucoid enteritis is caused by a pathogenic bacterial overgrowth, usually of Clostridium spiroforme, in the hindgut (cecum) of the baby, as the normal microflora are attempting to establish. These normal microflora help the baby achieve adult digestive capabilities.
Adult rabbit stomach pH is 1-2, but a neonates’ stomach pH is much higher; the stomach and gastro-intestinal tract of neonates is also sterile (containing no living microorganisms.) As babies wean off of milk onto adult solid foods, the gut pH gradually changes by getting a lot of help from the mother’s changing milk constituents.
By ten days of age, the babies eyes will have opened, and they will begin eating their mother’s cecotropes, (also called “night feces” or “cecal droppings”). Cecotropes help provide the babies with essential nutrients and later, inoculate the hindgut with the essential flora that is needed to metabolize a diet that is changing from milk to solid foods.
Cecotropes are clustered, soft gel-like “bunches” of fecal matter, which are covered with a light mucous film and resemble a mulberry in shape and size. They are manufactured in the adult cecum through “hindgut fermentation,” and contain high concentrations of proteins, B and K vitamins, fiber, ash (nitrogen-free extract) and unidentified “energy” elements, as well as the hindgut microbes. Cecotropes are an important part of a healthy rabbit diet and are usually eaten directly from the anus as they are produced.
Remember that our domestic rabbits were developed from the wild European rabbit, whose native diet was lacking in many nutrients. Cecotropes, a self-manufactured source of proteins and other nutrients, provide rabbits with the necessary nourishment to sustain their lives.
Infant rabbits also have an antimicrobial fatty acid in the stomach that differs from digestive gastric acids. It is produced only from an enzymatic reaction with a substance found only in the mother’s milk. This action controls the gastro-intestinal microbial contents in the babies’ tract.
As the babies begin to wean, at four to six weeks of age, they lose the guardianship of the mother’s milk/stomach enzymatic reaction and gradually develop the adult pH of 1-2. Often babies will seem to do fine until this critical stage is reached. It is at this point that both the mother’s milk and her cecotropes begin introducing the necessary adult flora (to digest solid foods) into the babies’ gastro-intestinal tract.
Note that a diet low in fiber and a high level of grain have been documented to cause enteric disturbances in adult rabbits as well as weanlings. Toxic microbes proliferate in the cecum due to the high-carbohydrate levels, and the lack of dietary fiber slows down the gut motility, providing a perfect environment for the toxins to grow.
In hand-raised babies, it is essential to provide adult cecotropes to the babies after their eyes are open. Usually, the babies will eat the cecotropes immediately, because it the natural thing for them to do. However, if the babies do not eat the cecotropes on their own, add two to three of the individual pellets in the cluster to the formula at one feeding per day for three to four days. As the babies begin to explore adult foods, it is impotant to monitor their fecal output. At the first sign of “mushy” stool, re-introduce cecotropes to them, in formula if necessary.
Depending on the infant’s dietary status and stress factors, that may include the babies’ immune system (which varies greatly from genetic factors,) the infants’ sterile gut may be unable to colonize with normal adult microflora. The gut would then become overloaded with abnormal bacteria, which leads to bloat, electrolyte loss and death from mucoid enteritis. The most common pathogens found in weanling rabbits that died of enteric disturbances are E. coli and Clostridium spp., and protozoa such as Coccidia spp.
Intravenous or intra-osseous fluid therapy supplied by a veterinarian experienced in rabbit medicine may help in some cases, as the ensuing diarrhea severely affects hydration and electrolyte levels. Oral hydration would be of little help in this instance, and the use of antibacterial agents in infants is not advised. Administering antimicrobials in an attempt to control abnormal gut flora may further disturb development of normal gut microflora. Products such as Baytril (enrofloxacins) are extremely detrimental for use in baby mammals.
More On Feeding Orphaned Baby Rabbits
Some practitioners and rehabilitators use “probiotics,” theoretically establishing the correct pH environment in the cecum to allow the “good bacteria” to proliferate, and thereby crowding out the “bad bacteria. ” The addition of Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures to baby formula may be helpful by acidifying the gut, although no scientific documentation has proven the theory. (There have been several studies done, with inconclusive results.)
While acidophilus is not a normal flora in the rabbit gut, it may help produce an environment which helps normal flora establish and grow. Other studies claim that none of the living cultures in acidophilus can survive the high pH in the stomach and therefore it is a wasted effort. However, this may be a clue as to why conflicting evidence is found: as the weanlings’ gut pH is undergoing drastic changes very quickly, the actual age of the baby may have a profound effect on whether or not the addition of acidophilus or other probiotics is effective. The addition of acidophilus has never been shown to be detrimental, at any rate.
Yogurt with live cultures has been used as a source of acidophilus and has been used in baby formulas. Adult rabbits do not produce lactase, the enzyme which digests lactose sugars (milk) and I advise against using yogurt as a source of acidophilus, if one chooses to supply it. Because a weanling rabbit’s gut is changing so drastically, it would be realistically impossible to determine at what exact moment a weanling rabbit develops intolerance for dairy products. Freeze-dried, organic acidophilus cultures are available at better health food stores and would probably be a better, safer choice than yogurt, in my opinion.
The probiotics “Bene-bac” (providing “beneficial bacteria” for avian species) and “Probiocin” (used most often for canine and feline species) have also been used to provide beneficial bacteria in rabbits and rabbit babies. The banana flavor of Bene-bac is popular with rabbits, which makes it easy to administer. No documentation has proven either product to be detrimental, although likewise, none exists supporting its use (except manufacturer’s claims.)
Fox Valley Animal Nutrition, Inc. also has a product called “Formula L A 200,” which is a viable lactobacillus acidophilus that acts in the same way as Bene-bac. The telephone number for Fox Valley is 1-800-679-4666
Unfortunately, because so little actual documentation exists regarding the use of probiotics, there does not exist a formulary regarding appropriate dosages, either. Too much could be as detrimental as the problem itself.
Probiotics also usually come in proportions of millions or even billions per milligram, which makes breaking down an appropriate dosage for a baby bunny difficult. “Bene-bac” in housed in a syringe calculated for the smaller weights of domestic-exotic parrots and other caged birds. This would be reason alone to argue that the use of avian “Bene-bac” is a more reliable dosage indicator for a weanling that weighs less than about half a kilogram.
There is another more recent product for veterinarians and rehabilitators on the market from Pet-Ag, Inc., Zoological Nutritional Components, called Milk Matrix. Manufactured for various wildlife species, there is a specific formula for native Eastern Cottontails (Sylvilagus Floridanus.) This may be the best substitute for a domestic rabbit’s milk available. I have not yet used it, but other rehabilitators have claimed success with it. The telephone number to order is 1-800-323-6878. If you have technical questions about the product, the number is 1-800-323-0877.
No substitute milk formula supplies immunity from disease (although the normal maternal antibodies are scarce) nor are most rich enough to supply the energy needs of the rapidly developing babies and without overfeeding them (leading to bloat.) For these reasons and the others stated, the prognosis is not good for the babies.
Infants lose the suckling instinct quickly, so if hand feeding is to be attempted, it must be started within 48 hours. Kitten nursers are much too large for the mouth of a baby rabbit. Toy doll bottles are sometimes small enough. If the baby has lost the suckling instinct, a tuberculin syringe (with needle removed, of course) can be used to carefully administer formula. Allow the babies to swallow naturally, or it may aspirate (breathe fluids into its lungs.) Be sure that the formula is warm, the babies are warm and that the bottle or syringe is sterile. Serious pathogens may be present in both the nursers and the formula, if not prepared correctly.
As Baby Rabbits Come Of Age
If the babies survive BIG IF, they may suffer from chronic gastro-intestinal problems throughout their lives, including stasis episodes and bloating. Both problems are treatable for quite a long time, but expensive and emotionally draining to do.
If the mother rabbit has died, call reputable commercial breeders to find a foster mother. Rabbits will foster another’s baby if they are the same of the same size and age. The breeder may charge for this service, if they are willing to do it. The breeder may also ask to keep one or more of the babies as “stock.”
As soon as the babies are weaned, at eight weeks, the mother rabbit should be spayed. She can then be placed back into the companionship of the now (hopefully) neutered male.
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!
Spay and neuter the offspring. Males should be neutered as soon as the testicles descend and females after four months but before a year of age. This is especially important in “open warrens,” wherein rabbits run free; as one pair of mature rabbits, with their unaltered offspring, can produce more than 200 babies within a year. That is a lot of responsibility, which could be curtailed by simply altering the existing bunnies.
Altered babies will make much more adoptable bunnies, be better human companions, will live longer, and will never be a contributor to the pet overpopulation problem. They will be less likely to be dumped at a shelter, most of which would be unable to accept such large numbers and would probably have to euthanize most… if not all of them.
Rabbits that are put up for adoption, especially babies, are often “adopted” to feed predator pets, such as pythons. “Free to a good home” is not a good advertisement for a safe new place for them. People take “free” bunnies not only to feed predators, but less ethical persons take them to train their dogs to kill. Some use them for “religious” practices that use animal sacrifices, such as Santeria rites. Some take a “free” rabbit I order to eat it and others will kill it for their fur (pelt.)
If one raises baby Rabbits, it is ones responsibility to find a “good” home . It is ones ethical and moral duty to adequately interview potential adopters and find the best home for the babies.
The best places to post advertisements are at veterinarians’ offices, organizations that promote Humane Education, “no-kill” shelters and civic organizations that support human services.
Thank you for caring for these special Rabbits. We pray for your success, and hope that your experience is as rewarding as Mary’s was in her care for Millie’s Children.
This article is reprinted by permission of Kindplanet.org
Below content merged from /care/newborn.html
Newborn Baby Bunny Facts
House Rabbit Society volunteers get countless calls from well-meaning people who find “orphans” or “abandoned baby rabbits” behind the shed or in a nearby field. Unknowingly they break up families and separate mother rabbits from their babies in an effort to “save” them. Also, we often hear from concerned owners, who don’t know that rabbits only nurse once a day, that their pet rabbit is not feeding her newborn litter. We usually reply with the question, “How do you know? Do you stay up all night and watch?”
Since House Rabbit Society rescuers have taken in many pregnant rabbits, who live inside our homes with us (instead of outdoors in hutches), we are able to observe, get close to, and participate in the activities of raising a litter.
If you are ever confronted with questions on baby bunny care-domestic, not wild rabbits-here are a few guidelines.
- Although rabbits build nests, they are not chickens and, after initial preparation, will not sit on their nests. They also do not stay on or by the nests after the babies are born. This would attract the attention of predators. The babies burrow to the bottom of the nest where they remain hidden until Mamma Rabbit wakes them up at mealtime.
- Only rarely does a mother rabbit nurse her young right after giving birth. Most often the first nursing will occur the night after the kindling. The rabbit’s rich milk sustains the babies for 24 hours at a time. The preferred mealtime is between mid night and 5:00 a.m.
- A mother rabbit does not lie down in the nest, as a cat would do, but stands over the babies to nurse them. She does, however, clean them and lick their bellies and bottoms to stimulate elimination in much the same way as a cat.
- If you want definite proof that the babies are being cared for, check them early each morning. They should be warm and round-bellied. The best way to know for sure is to weigh them on a small postage scale or kitchen scale. Write down a description and the weight. If they’re gaining weight (1/4 oz. or so), they’re being fed.
- You can handle the babies even if the mother doesn’t know you. Domestic rabbits are not that concerned over human smells.
- Rabbits are not prone to cannibalism, as many people think. Cannibalism is an occasional result of a stillborn litter, and this is nature’s way of cleaning up the “mistake.” The activity and noisy squeaking of healthy babies trigger the “maternal instincts.”Only rarely does a mother rabbit truly abandon or ignore her babies. This may occur when a very Immature rabbit gives birth, In which case, she usually does not build a nest or make any preparations. Her milk production Is also delayed. Sometimes the babies can be hand fed for short time until the mother rabbit can take over the job. Again, their daily weight gain is the test of adequate nourishment. (If you must hand feed, refer to page 81 of the House Rabbit Handbook.
- Generally a male rabbit is tolerant of young rabbits and, if neutered, can remain with his new family. The father will begin to nip and play roughly with the sons as they begin to reach puberty and start acting feisty. Then It’s time for separation. A male rabbit must be neutered before being put back with the mother because she can conceive again immediately after giving birth. They should be kept separate for a month after neutering.
Caring for Newborn Baby Rabbits
IF THESE ARE WILD BABIES
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: https://www. nwrawildlife.org
- List of rabbit vets: http://rabbit.org/vet-listings/
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.
WHERE TO PUT THE BABIES
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
WHAT TO FEED THE BABIES
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
HOW DO I DO THIS?
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.
videos, useful tips and tricks
12/30/2020 13 013 11 new offspring. After the birth of babies, feeding them is an important task. How the rabbit feeds the rabbits, you can watch in the video below. Also in our article you will learn important points and recommendations.
Well-fed rabbits: how to find out?
What if the rabbit does not feed the babies?
Video "Newborn rabbits"
, which has maternal instinct, a few days before the appearance of babies begins to prepare a place, which may appear in the form , paper in the corner of the cage, pulling out their own fluff. This is done so that newborn rabbits, who are born without wool, do not freeze when their mother is not around.
The rabbit's milk arrives after parturition, so she can immediately start the first feeding. With traditional, natural feeding, the female feeds the babies infrequently. The number of meals is 1, sometimes 2 times a day, but she can fully feed no more than 8 rabbits and requires enhanced nutrition after birth.
Most often this happens at night with absolute silence. How many rabbits are in the nest, so much the rabbit will feed. If one rabbit crawled away from the nest, then the mother will not look for him to feed him, and he may die. Therefore, it is worth making sure that the kids are near a place specially designated for them. And those who accidentally crawled out or ended up outside the nest must be carefully returned.
After 10 days the rabbits' eyes open and they begin to move around the cage. At the age of 2-3 weeks, they can try roughage, while milk must remain in their diet.
After 45 days, you can think about transplanting the offspring separately from the mother. If frequent mating is practiced on the farm, then babies can be planted earlier. In the case of rearing broilers, rabbits are separated from the rabbit after 2 months.
It is also important to take into account the fact that after 3-4 days without feeding, the mother's milk disappears and it will not be possible to restore lactation.
Well-fed rabbits: how to find out?
Since the rabbit has only 8 nipples, the most agile and strong make their way to them. At the same time, they can trample the weak. If there is a lot of milk, then everyone has time to eat: first the most nimble and strong, then those who did not have time. If about 15 rabbits were born in the offspring, then you should take care to move some to another female who has few babies.
It's nice to see little rabbits sleeping sweetly after a heavy meal. But does the rabbit always make sure that they are full. Those babies who consume milk well and enough have moderately round tummies, similar to tight drums. Then you can be completely sure that they ate well.
If their bellies are hollow, their skin is wrinkled, and they look weak, it is necessary to check if the female has milk. Sometimes you can see a picture of how the babies lie in the nest not in a pile, but one at a time. This means that they were looking for their mother and remained hungry (except when the nest is too hot). The first thing to do in this case is to warm them up.
In order to determine if a female rabbit is lactating normally, do the following:
- remove the female from the cage, lay her on her back, placing her on her knees or on a table;
- examine the nipples, they should be slightly swollen;
- squeeze the nipple with your fingers until a little milk or translucent liquid comes out.
This procedure may indicate that there is enough milk. If lactation is disturbed, it is urgent to contact a veterinarian and take action. On the video from the Neriman Hesenov channel, you can watch the feeding process.
What if the rabbit does not feed the babies?
No matter how good and caring a rabbit is, for unknown reasons she can stop feeding her offspring. Some farmers are trying to solve this problem by using artificial milk. But this is not a very good way. On artificial nutrition, rabbits can die for 3-4 days, and the one who survives develops poorly and does not live long.
The force-feeding method can be used. In this case, the participation of two people is desirable. One should hold the rabbit and her hind legs, and the second should put the rabbits in and make sure that they can eat. It may happen that the rabbit will get nervous and try to run away. It's worth the effort to keep it in place.
It takes about 15-20 minutes for the baby to eat, sometimes less. It is important to understand that when feeding, babies can move from nipple to nipple, but this does not mean that the female does not have milk. In the process of feeding, their tummies should fill up and increase in size.
It is better to feed the rabbits in the morning and in the evening, maintaining a time interval of about 12 hours. It may take a 2-3 day approach of such feedings before the female begins to feed the babies herself.
- photo 1. Newborn white rabbits
- photo 2. process of feeding rabbits
- photo 3. Well -fed babies
- photo 4. Newborn babies
- Maternal secrets of rabbits
- Rabbit feeding
- How many times the rabbit feeds
- how many kids can feed the rabbit, and how long it will be fed
- What does a rabbit get sick when feeding baby rabbits
- Remove the mother from the nest box. This procedure must be performed every time the rabbit breeder wants to get to the kids.
- Wash hands with laundry soap. You can use the children's, without flavorings. Then they need to be rubbed with fluff from the nest.
- Mother has too little milk. Most likely, this is a consequence of an improper diet during the prenatal period and after birth. You can stimulate lactation by increasing the amount of juicy root crops in the feed, adding scalded nettles, dried dill, parsley, and carrot tops. Any dairy products stimulate lactation well: whey and milk itself.
- There are more rabbits in the litter than the female can feed. Experienced rabbit breeders mate several females at the same time. In this case, you can put a rabbit from a large family where few cubs were born. The foster mother will not detect a forgery if the foundling is first wiped with fluff from a new nest.
- The rabbit refuses to feed. This happens during wild hunting. What to do is described above. Another similar thing can happen if the female is young and this is her first litter. In this case, force-feeding will help - babies are placed next to the female being held. Often this method awakens maternal instinct in negligent rabbits.
- Physical condition;
- Genetic predisposition.
- Underexpressed milk. There is more of it than the rabbits can eat;
- Female rabbit infection or parasitic disease;
- Unhygienic condition in-cage;
- Animal hypothermia or stress.
9,00022 In this video (author Tina Kot), a rabbit breeder shares his experience in terms of breeding rabbits. You'll see how babies are born and learn how to tell if their mom is feeding them.
how many times a day the rabbits feed the newborn rabbits: how often
The gestation period of rabbits is 30 days. Sometimes, if there are many cubs, childbirth can begin a little earlier. Each rabbit breeder needs to know all the nuances of the birth and lactation period of the life of rabbits.
Maternal secrets of rabbits
A week before giving birth, the female begins to build a nest from hay and her own down. She pulls out the fluff from her stomach, around the nipples. This is done not only so that the cubs are warm and comfortable, but also so that they can easily get to milk. After all, babies are born blind, naked and completely helpless.
The female starts building the nest
Usually 4-8 babies are born in a litter. But there are cases when there may be 16 of them. Okrol, as a rule, begins at night, closer to dawn. If everything is fine, then the breaks between the babies that are born are no more than 10 minutes. Sometimes there are minor delays. If the female fails to give birth all day, you need to seek help from a veterinarian.
Immediately after giving birth, the new mother eats the afterbirth. She can eat a stillborn rabbit, which should not be allowed. The stillborn must be immediately removed from the nest. Some precautions must be taken when doing this:
Important! Hands must not have a strong odor. It is unacceptable that they smell of gasoline, engine oil, alcohol or perfume. The rabbit may completely abandon the cubs if a sharp alien smell is introduced into the nest.
It often happens that after the birth, the female starts hunting. It can proceed both calmly and in a violent form - it rushes around the cage, completely forgetting about the rabbits. If the rabbit breeder is set for further breeding, she must be placed with the male for mating. Even after mating, the rabbit takes excellent care of newborns.
Feeding the young rabbits
Feeding the offspring
Feeding the offspring begins after childbirth. But sometimes she refuses to do so. Not only to see, but at least to notice how the rabbits feed the rabbits, it is very rare. But you can understand that the cubs are hungry by their behavior. Well-fed rabbits have a smooth skin, a round, full belly and healthy sleep. If they are hungry, they constantly squeak, crawl and have an unsightly, disheveled appearance. Babies can be malnourished for several reasons:
The rabbit refuses to feed
If all else fails, then the babies will have to be fed additionally. For this, mixtures for puppies or kittens are used. You can find out about the availability of such mixtures at a pet store or veterinary pharmacy. There you can also buy a syringe with a pipette for feeding. At first, the rabbits will resist, refuse the rubber "nipple", but they will get used to it very quickly and even begin to recognize the breadwinner as soon as they are picked up. In the process of feeding, full cubs should be put aside so as not to get confused and not leave someone without a portion of milk.
The female rabbit does not feed the young rabbits - what to do
How many times the female rabbit feeds the cubs
In the normal course of the postpartum period, the female is not constantly in the nest. In its natural habitat, having a strong smell, it goes away from offspring, feeds under the canopy of trees and watches the hole. A similar thing happens in a cage - the rabbit will sit quietly, feed and do things, it would seem that it’s not at all what a young mother should be doing. But with the onset of darkness, the rabbit will definitely dive into the birth box and feed the babies.
Why does a rabbit eat her babies
Important! Rabbits are not dogs, they do not constantly sit near their offspring. But this does not mean that the rabbit does not take care of babies!
In general, data on how many times a day a female rabbit feeds newborn rabbits vary slightly. Some feed twice a day, others five. It is very difficult to catch the female behind this process, and if you count by the number of visits to the nest, then she can dive into it just like that. You should not immediately climb into the box and check the tummies of the babies. It's better to bother them less.
How many babies can a rabbit feed and how long will she feed them
A rabbit feeds baby rabbits
There is no exact data on how many baby rabbits a rabbit can feed. It depends on such factors:
Rabbit breeders have such a rule - do not leave more cubs under the mother than she has teats. In this case, all the kids will have food. That is why they are trying to make sure that several females give birth at the same time in the rabbitry - so that there is something to do with the "extra" babies.
Baby rabbits, born naked and blind, are covered with hair and become sighted by the 12th day of life. Only after that they try to gradually get out of the nest box. By three weeks, they begin to try "adult" food. But the female can feed them for up to three months. In the wild, after 35-40 days, a rabbit has new offspring (the number of births is up to 11 per year) and still the firstborn, no, no, and dive to the mother. With the cellular content of young eared rodents, it is customary to remove them from the mother's nest at the age of one and a half months.
How much milk a cow gives per day
What causes a rabbit to be sick while feeding baby rabbits
A rabbit is sick
During the feeding period, the female may categorically refuse to approach the babies. By her behavior, you can immediately determine what is wrong with her health. Most often, this behavior is caused by developing mastitis, an inflammatory process in the mammary glands. Causes due to which this disease develops:
With mastitis, the mammary gland becomes hard. At the time of feeding, pain appears. If not treated, purulent processes may begin.
You can try to overcome the disease in its initial stage. Just need a gland massage. The best "masseurs" are the cubs themselves. To do this, the female must be laid down and held firmly. Rabbits, sucking milk, massage the gland. With a certain degree of luck, such therapy can help.
But, unfortunately, in most cases, especially when precious time is lost, the intervention of a veterinarian cannot be dispensed with. Often, offspring from a sick rabbit have to be removed and either placed in other nests or fed artificially. In breeding, as a rule, such rabbits do not take further part.
On an industrial scale, sick or mastitis-prone females are removed from the herd without lengthy and costly treatment. An amateur rabbit breeder who does not want to lose a breeder is advised to regularly check the mammary glands of rabbits.