Like all pregnancies, it’s always anxious, exited when waiting for a rabbit litter. But are you prepared to care for the soon to be doe and its fur-less bunch? Take note that rabbits are not exactly like dog or cats when it comes to dedication to their litter. Some rabbit moms even abandon their rabbit litter halfway through weaning or even right after giving birth! When this happens, be prepared to assume the rabbit mom role.See also:
It’s time to brush up your rabbit litter mothering ability so that when your rabbit bunch came, you know what to do.
Mother Rabbit Characteristics
Few days before birthing, mother rabbits may shred paper, gather hay, or pull fur to make into nest. When the rabbit litter comes, the nest “should” be ready to warm the bare baby rabbits. However, some domesticated rabbit doe lost its ability to nest. So be ready to take this responsibility for her.
You should also know that in the wild, mother rabbits do not sit with their litter during the day. This is an instinctive strategy to avoid attracting predators in the nest. A rabbit litter is only fed twice a day during twilight hours. So don’t worry if you don’t see the doe suckling the baby bunnies during the day – they’re not abandoned but protected from predators. Just to be on the safe side, check their tummy during the morning or late at night if they are round and full. If they’re not, you may have to keep a watchful eye during twilight hours if indeed the mother is suckling the litter or not.
Building Rabbit Litter Nest
If the mother rabbit is so humanized that it’s no longer able to build nest, you can build the nest for her. Here’s what you can do.
1. Take a cardboard/wood box that just a little bigger than the mother rabbit.
2. Cut a small door just enough for the doe to go through but leave a lip to prevent the
baby bunnies from wandering outside the box.
3. Fashion shredded paper and Timothy hay in the box to form a somewhat large bird’s nest in
4. Gather rabbit fur and lay it over the nest to form a cushion. Don’t use cotton as cushion if
you don’t want to strangle the baby bunnies.
5. Cover the top with some thick, warm rag, and you’re ready to put the rabbit litter in.
If the room temperature is about 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, then heating pad is not necessary. Only provide heating pad in very low setting if temperature falls below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Feeding Abandoned Rabbit Litter
In case the mother rabbit did abandon her litter, don’t ring the panic bell. It’s fairly easy to feed baby rabbits with fresh goat’s milk (if available) or Meyenberg Regular Goat milk in the groceries’ milk section. KMR kitten powder formula will do, too, if goat’s milk is not available.
With a 3 cc syringe (don’t forget to remove the needle!), feed a baby bunny sitting upright on its nest or on a towel on your lap. It’s also best to use pet teat cannula you can buy from your vet or from a pet store to make suckling comfortable for the baby bunnies.
Remember the DOs in feeding abandoned rabbit litter:
1. Feed them only twice a day during twilight hours! Overfeeding is the number one killer of
abandoned baby bunnies.
2. Feed the baby bunnies upright. Feeding them lying down on their back can force the milk
into the lungs instead of the tummy – milk aspiration is fatal.
3. Be gentle. Point the teat cannula or the syringe toward the lower part or the sides of the
baby bunny’s mouth, and press the plunger slowly letting the baby suck the milk.
How Much Is Too Much
To avoid over feeding the rabbit litter, here’s the recommended feeding rate for baby bunnies.
Bunnies 1-2 weeks old – 5-7 cc or ml milk each feeding
Bunnies 2-3 weeks old – 7-13 cc or ml milk each feeding
Bunnies 3-6 weeks old – 13-15 cc or ml milk each feeding
Generally, you’ll know that the baby rabbit is full if it refuses to suck. After feeding, it’s necessary to stimulate the baby rabbits to urinate and defecate by rubbing damp, warm cotton ball on the anal area until they go. Continue doing so until they stop urinating or defecating. Lucky for you if you have baby jackrabbits because they go on their own without needing to be stimulated.
It must be said, though, that taking care of abandoned rabbit litter can be time-consuming and icky. The bright side is your bunnies will grow very close and endeared to you.