How to take care of newborn rabbits guide
Some people who have rabbits as pets have no idea of how to take care of newborn rabbits.
Unhealthy methods of handling newborn rabbits can cause them to be sick and eventually die.
You should know how to take care of newborn rabbits if you want to breed these special creatures at home or as a business.
If you are caring for pet rabbits, newborn baby rabbits, or you accidentally find a rabbit nest, be sure to handle the rabbit with special care and attention.
For baby rabbits that you may have discovered in the wild, here are important things you need to know:
- If you find a nest of wild baby rabbits, it is best to leave them where you found them.
- If you know that the baby rabbits are orphaned, ensure that the baby rabbits are taken to wildlife rehabilitation or a veterinarian.
- Do not attempt to take care of baby rabbits on your own if you are not knowledgeable about what is required.
How to take care of newborn rabbits: domestic rabbits
- Handling a baby rabbit:
According to some sources, it is believed that you should never touch a baby rabbit because the mother will smell your scent on her babies.
When this happens, it would refuse to feed her babies. However, as observed amongst domestic rabbits, this claim is false.
Domesticated rabbits are quite comfortable around humans and are considered as house pets for some people.
Since the mother rabbit is already comfortable around you, she won’t be alarmed when she sees you handling the babies.
So, don’t worry about your scent putting her off from caring for her babies. Immediately the baby rabbits are born, you can handle them right away.
Just make sure you are very careful, as they are delicate and tender. You should know this when it comes to how to take care of newborn rabbits.
Do not handle the baby rabbits longer than the time required to avoid stress.
According to the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, when baby rabbits are picked up, it can lead to stress because rabbits are a prey species.
- Ideal spot for your rabbit to give birth:
While birthing, your rabbit should give birth to all her babies at once in the nesting box. To regulate their bodies, the baby rabbits need to stay snuggled up together.
If the mother rabbit gives birth to her babies outside of the nesting box, you should endeavour to put them back together as the separated baby will quickly become cold and die.
III. Caring for your baby rabbits:
It is an established fact that mother rabbits do not move or retrieve their babies.
Many people who want to learn how to take care of newborn rabbits learn this the hard way.
Hence, if you notice a baby rabbit has fallen out of its nesting box on its own, then you must pick it up and gently put it back in the box.
Ensure that the sides of the nestling box are high enough to keep them secure and avoid them from falling off.
- Weighing the baby rabbits:
When it comes to how to take care of newborn rabbits, every day, choose a specific time to perform a weighing exercise for the baby rabbits.
Once per day, take each baby rabbit out to weigh it and check/observe its condition.
But if you have difficulty in telling the baby rabbits apart, you can simply mark the inside of their ears with a washable marker.
NESTING FOR BABY RABBITS
Below are the Do’s and Don’ts in nesting for baby rabbits:
- Get a soft, clean nesting box, and cover the baby rabbits with a clean towel.
- Ensure that they are covered and that the nestling box is dark until their eyes open.
- Ensure that the nesting box is kept in a room that is 65-70°, but not warmer.
- If the nesting box is in a cold room, then you can place an electric heating pad set on low or a warm hot water bottle just beneath part of the box or bedding,.
- However, make sure you give the baby rabbits enough room to move away to a cooler spot if they need to.
FEEDING BABY RABBITS
- To feed baby rabbits, keep their bodies upright.
- Using a syringe pointed downward and a bit sideways, insert into the mouth of the baby rabbits so that excess formula drips out of the side of their mouths.
- Feed the baby rabbits twice a day, once in the morning and in the evening.
- As each individual baby rabbit will have its preferences, do not give smaller rabbits to eat larger pellets as they will eat less per feeding.
- Do not overfeed baby rabbits.
- After their eyes open, you can introduce small amounts of rabbit food pellets or hay into their nesting box, to enable their transition to adult food.
- Ensure that the baby rabbits are stimulated after they feed to urinate and defecate.
How to Take Care of Newborn Rabbits: Stimulating Baby Rabbit
Using a cotton ball or the corner of a clean towel that is moistened with warm water, gently stroke the anal area of the baby rabbit until it begins to urinate and defecate.
Do not stop stroking until they stop. Usually, a mother rabbit would lick their babies to stimulate them in this way.
This is very important to replicate this behavior until the baby rabbits are old enough to urinate and defecate on their own after every feeding.
Amounts to feed domestic baby rabbits
|Age||Amount (in cc per feeding)|
|Three – Six weeks||15|
How To Identify An Orphaned Newborn Baby Rabbit
Some questions have come up by people who discovered baby rabbits in the wild such as:
How do we know if the mother rabbit is still around? How do we know if they are safe from predators?
In the wild, a mother rabbit would stay away from her babies as a defence mechanism to avoid attracting predators to the nest.
However, the mother rabbit visits her babies once or twice a day, usually at night, and only for a few minutes at a time to feed them.
She may only visit the nest for five minutes a day.
So while you may think that the babies are being abandoned, they are being protected from predators.
So if you watch a rabbit’s nest closely and do not see the mother attending the babies, it does not actually mean they are not being cared for.
Before you take out baby rabbits from their nest, you need to be certain that they are abandoned or orphaned.
How to take care of newborn rabbits can be a hard task, even by trained rehabbers). Therefore, removing the babies from their nest puts them in harm’s way.
Below are some ways you can know if the newborn baby rabbits are orphans and need help:
- Observe the baby rabbits: The skin of the baby rabbits should be healthy and pink or red. Their skin should not be bluish or greyish and the babies should be warm to the touch.
- Observe The Stomach of the Baby Rabbits’: Their stomachs should be round and healthy and not sunken in
- Monitor Their Sounds And Activity: A healthy baby rabbit ought to have a normal, wiggling movement.
Regardless, they are quiet most of the time, so don’t mistake it for malnutrition or illness. A few minutes before their feeding time, you may also notice they may start to cry.
However, If the baby rabbits still remain dormant and sluggish, or cry for a longer than normal period.
This is a sure indication that the baby rabbits may not be fed well or even fed at all.
- Check For Dehydration: You can check whether the baby rabbits are hydrated by following this easy step.
Gently pinch the skin of the baby rabbits together at the nape of their necks. If you notice that the skin smooths down flat again, then this is an indication that they are well hydrated.
However, if the skin remains tented, then they are dehydrated and need water immediately.
- Observe the Environment: A good way to know if those baby bunnies may be orphaned or abandoned is by taking a close look at their environment.
Observe their nest. Simply cover the nest up again as you found it. You can cover the nest with twigs or sticks in a pattern that you will not forget.
Make sure you use a close pattern because a mother rabbit is discreet and will not disturb the nest too much when she visits.
However, if you come back the following day and the twigs haven’t been disturbed or the patterns still remain the same and the baby rabbits are not healthy.
It is probably time to involve a professional to help in teaching you how to take care of newborn rabbits.
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Take Care of Newborn Rabbits
- What Do I do If I Find Baby Rabbits?
- If you are keeping domestic rabbits, and they are healthy and growing strong, then you’re probably doing a great job.
But if they are not healthy and need medical care, then make sure you contact a veterinarian who is skilled at caring for baby rabbits.
We have made it clear when it comes to how to take care of newborn rabbits that you should be ready to do more.
A great tip to keep in mind before getting a baby rabbit is to contact your local veterinarians to find one who can treat rabbits so that you have their contact information in case the need arises.
- How Can I Keep Baby Rabbits Healthy?
- A baby rabbit will only get diseases when it is not being treated properly. This involves its nutrition and method of handling.
Thus, if you’re wondering how to take care of newborn rabbits and keep them healthy, ensure you provide the baby rabbits with adequate warmth.
You should check them every day to make sure they are well-fed, comfortable, and happy.
- Do Baby Rabbits Have Diseases?
- Diarrhoea is the most common illness of baby rabbits. The disease is usually caused by an imbalance of microbes in the cecum, which is part of a rabbit’s intestine.
The cecum is supposed to be filled with good bacteria, which help rabbits digest their food. However, if harmful bacteria, such as Escherichia. coli is found in that area, it can lead to diarrhoea.
Diarrhoea kills baby rabbits quickly. Ensure that you keep your baby rabbits healthy. Always take time each day to check up on them. Make sure that they are well-fed, warm, and wriggling.
Symptoms to look out for if your baby rabbit is unhealthy:
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- Stools containing blood
- concave stomach (caused by malnutrition)
Once you notice any of these symptoms above, do not hesitate to take your baby rabbits to the vet in their nesting box.
- Can You Touch A Newborn Baby Rabbit?
- Most times, you can gently touch a newborn baby rabbit if it is a domesticated rabbit and if the mother is calm.
Do not touch a newborn wild rabbit unless you are certain that it has been abandoned and needs human care.
- Can Baby Rabbits Drink Water?
- Baby rabbits will only start to drink water when they are about 3-4 weeks old ,although you can give them a very shallow bowl of water to drink from when they are still small.
Baby rabbits usually rely on their mothers to teach them how to drink from a water bottle. Remember this when learning how to take care of newborn rabbits.
You may need to lower the water bottle or make a little ramp to make it easy for the babies to reach when they get older.
- Can You Give Baby Rabbits Cow Milk?
- No, cow milk is not good for baby rabbits. In fact, a mother rabbit spends less than 5 minutes a day feeding her babies.
Therefore the rabbit milk is extremely nutritious and has special enzymes, which the baby rabbits need to grow properly.
Baby rabbits may not be able to digest cow’s milk, and it may not have all the necessary nutrients they need to be healthy and grow properly.
Instead of giving them cow milk, you can feed the baby rabbits a Kitten Milk Replacer formula, or even goat’s milk.
- How Long Can Baby Rabbits Go Without Food?
- At most, a baby rabbit can survive without food for 3-4 days.
In the wild, most baby rabbits are only fed once a day, between midnight and 5 a.m.
Unlike many animals, it is surprising that the mother rabbit does not nurse her babies right after their born.
The mother rabbit usually feeds her babies the following night.
Baby rabbits are undoubtedly adorable and cute, but if by chance you find a nest of wild baby rabbits, make sure you call a local wildlife center before you disturb the nest.
Also, do not decide to take care of a baby rabbit unless you are certain you know what to do. If not, it is best to leave it in the hands of a professional.