There is more to caring for baby bunnies than just using indoor rabbit cages where you can improvise a nest. By taking our recommendations into consideration, you will be able to offer the proper environment to the kits and help them thrive. If your female rabbit is pregnant and due soon, it is essential to be prepared for what comes next.
Create a nest for the mother to be and her babies
One thing you may not know about newborn rabbits is that they come into this world without fur. That, of course, means that they need warmth and it is ideal to provide them with a nest that can cater to this basic requirement.
You don’t have to think of anything extremely fancy. A cardboard box is enough, as well as some bedding that will create the right conditions for the newborn bunnies to feel warm and protected. Leave the rest to the mother rabbit as she will know what to do.
Make sure that the cardboard box is a bit bigger than the mother so that the kits can huddle close together. Also, a box that has the edges a bit raised is a good idea, as you surely don’t want to search the entire house for lost baby rabbits.
To ensure extra warmth, put a towel on the bottom of the box, and then spread some grass on top. Prepare this nest before your female rabbit gives birth. This will give her time to arrange her nest as she likes, and you will notice that she will add some of her fur to enhance it.
As far as the location of the nest is concerned, you should think about placing it in a darkened area, away from the noise and the usual traffic in the house. Also, it should be away from the litter box.
The first days
Just as is the case with the babies of any species, the first days are crucial. Female rabbits usually give birth early in the morning, so you may wake up and find that she already gave birth. Draw the mother rabbit away with a small treat, and check for dead kits. Remove the placenta and other waste generated by the birthing process.
If there are kits outside the nest, put them back in. If you notice that the nest is not warm enough, you can fill a bottle with warm water and place it under the towel inside the nest. Since the mother will be away most of the time, that may be a necessity.
During these first days, ensure that the mother has enough food and water. Don’t be surprised if you never catch the mother in the act of nursing. In the wild, rabbits feed their young only twice a day, and then just for a very short time. In the wild, female rabbits don’t stay with their newborns in the nest, as they don’t want to draw predators’ attention by doing so.
You will be able to tell that the kits are well fed by their round tummies. Also, if you hear no noise coming from the nest, that means that they do what babies do after eating: they sleep.
Make sure that the nest is cleaned daily
While they are very young, baby rabbits will do everything in the nest, which includes all the regular activities. That means that the nest will get quite dirty fast and it is highly recommended to clean the nest and change the bedding every day. This simple measure will reduce the risk of disease and infections.
Don’t wean your baby rabbits too soon
Kits will continue to feed on their mother’s milk until they reach eight weeks of age, but they will also start eating pellets from as early as two weeks old. By doing so, they will go smoothly through the necessary transition to become fully weaned.
The female rabbit’s milk contains important antibodies that are necessary for creating a healthy immune system. Another thing you should bear in mind about the diet of baby rabbits is that they should not be introduced to greens too soon, as they may suffer from digestive problems if that happens.
When they are about two months old, you can try feeding them a few greens, but pay close attention to what happens while doing so. At the first signs of diarrhea, you should stop giving them greens for a while, and try again later. To be safe, start with carrots, kale, or lettuce.
How to handle baby rabbits
You may fear that handling the baby rabbits too much would make the mother reject them. First, that should not happen if your female rabbit is already used to your scent. You can handle the kits from the first day, and you might have to do so regularly, for keeping them together in the nest, or for cleaning their living space regularly.
When you handle baby rabbits, you should thoroughly wash your hands before. During this very delicate period, rabbits are particularly prone to disease and bacterial infections. For instance, if they get in contact with E. coli, they might die within just a few hours.
There is another reason why handling your baby rabbits regularly is highly recommended. Rabbits are not as tame as cats and dogs, no matter how adorable and benign they might look to you. They have natural instincts, so they are not particularly fond of humans.
By teaching your kits to be familiar with your scent and touch, you will manage to grow rabbits that are violent toward humans and are used to their owners’ company.
As long as you respect all the recommendations above, you will be able to help your baby rabbits thrive and turn into healthy, tame adults. Take care of the mother rabbit, as well, and ensure that she gets a proper diet and hydration during this time.