Baby bunnies are small and adorable.
So raising them will absolutely be a fulfilling task.
But, it’s not a walk in the park.
It’s a crucial stage for them so you always have to make sure they’re strong and healthy.
And how will you do this?
Continue reading to learn:
- 11 tips to keep in mind when taking care of baby rabbits.
- The right age for them to be weaned off from their mother.
- What you should give to a kitten and how often they must be fed.
- How to take care of a wild baby rabbit and how you can keep them alive.
- And so much more…
How do you take care of baby rabbits?
To take care of baby rabbits, you should keep them warm and away from noises and stress. Make sure they’re well-fed. Then wean them off slowly when it’s time. But if they’re orphaned or not nursed well, hand-feed them instead. Also, help them pee or poop, clean their box, and give them ample space.
11 tips to take care of a baby rabbit (at home)
#1: Keep them safe and warm
The first thing that you should provide to a baby bunny is a cozy shelter.
“Is a nesting box necessary for rabbits?”
Yes. Female wild rabbits dig burrows and build nests days or hours before they give birth.
This will protect their litter from weather and predators.
But even though pet rabbits live in the safety of our homes, their kits still need protection and warmth. This is why nesting boxes are necessary.
Now, if you see the newborn kittens out of the box, you have to intervene to keep them warm.
Or else they’ll get cold and won’t be able to digest their food properly.
What should you do?
Before putting them back again in the box, make sure that you:
- Line it with clean cotton towel.
- Fill a bottle with warm water (not hot!).
- Put it under the cloth.
- Ensure that there’s enough space left inside so that kits can move around if they feel too hot.
- The warm bottle should be hidden well so that the babies will not have any direct contact with it. This is to avoid them from getting too warm.
- The cloth must not have any holes or dangling fiber to keep the kittens safe from cuts. (Since they have thin and delicate skin.)
Note: Remember, only do this when the baby rabbits are outside of the hutch or box. Leave them alone if they’re fine inside – snuggling with the other kits.
You might also like: Why do rabbits dig in their cage? & Why do rabbits move their bedding?
#2: Make the nesting box accessible to their mother
This tip is for newborn rabbits who still have their mother at home.
After creating a nest and giving birth…
You might be expecting a mother bunny to stay inside with their litter. Like what chickens, dogs, and cats do.
However, this isn’t the case for rabbits.
They’ll only attend to their babies to nurse them once a day. So they won’t snuggle with them inside the nesting box for so long.
And this is completely normal.
Experts say that this is due to their instincts.
In the wild, there are predators around. So to protect their litter, mother rabbits don’t stay much inside the nest.
This is to avoid inviting other animals and putting their babies in danger.
Adult rabbits usually leave a scent wherever they go. So they might leave a trail to their nest and attract predators.
What to do?
Mother bunnies will usually feed their babies late at night or early in the morning.
This is the only time you’ll see them inside the nest. So to let the mother rabbit nurse their kits, provide an entry for them to their box.
Cut a doorway for them. And it should be at least an inch (2.54 cm) from the ground to prevent the kittens from going outside.
#3: Place them in a quiet place
Aside from keeping them warm, they should also be away from noises and distractions.
For this, put the hutch or nesting box in a quiet area. Free from children, other pets, or things that create loud noises.
#4: Monitor them every day
Again, if the baby rabbit still has their mother and it’s not their time to be weaned yet, relax.
You don’t have to worry about feeding them.
But, this is one of the most important things you should do on your part…
Check the babies’ condition every morning to make sure they’re healthy and well-fed.
“How can you tell if a baby rabbit is underfed or not?”
It’ll be visible in their tummy’s appearance.
If they’re well-fed, their belly should be round, distended, and warm.
But if not, it’s wrinkled, sunken, and cold.
However, if you have a kitchen scale at home, you may also weigh each baby. (Provided that you have a way to tell every kitten apart.)
Take note of their weight every day. And if it increased by about 1/4 oz (7.4 ml), it means they’re eating well.
Note: Be extra gentle and only handle the kittens when necessary. They’re tiny and delicate. Plus, they may wiggle out of your hands.
Also, wash and dry your hands before touching them. This is to prevent spreading bacteria and other scents.
Now, if you see that a kitten is underfed, do the next tips.
#5: Make their mother feed them
When a kitten isn’t getting enough milk from their mom, it’s best to reassess the situation first.
If the mother is healthy, try to get her to nurse their kitten.
But only do this when the mother rabbit isn’t being aggressive to their young.
Stroke the mother rabbit first to calm them.
Then put them in the nest and hold them over their litter.
But if they go out and refuse to stay inside, you may also hold them in your arms.
Put the mother on their back. Then gently hold each baby and place their mouth close to the nipple.
#6: Hand-feed them (if orphaned)
If your baby rabbit doesn’t have a mother anymore, you should do the feeding instead.
Looking for a surrogate bunny is also a great idea.
But, this will take time. And you need to feed the kit as soon as possible to prevent them from getting weak and dying.
“What should I do then?”
For babies below 3 weeks old, they must be fed with a milk replacer.
The only options you should use are:
- Fresh whole goat’s milk.
- Kitten milk replacer (KMR).
Note: Never try a human baby formula or cow’s milk!
Now, a milk replacer may not be enough for young bunnies. So experts also recommend putting 100% heavy whipping cream (sugar-free) into every can of a kitten milk replacer.
Scientists found that a rabbit’s milk has the highest protein content among others – as well as fats.
So mixing some whipping cream will meet their daily fat intake.
If you need to hand-feed your rabbit, here’s a detailed formula you may use as per Dr. Dana Krempels:
- Goat’s milk – ½ cup (236 ml).
- Kitten milk replacer – ½ cup (236 ml).
- Heavy whipping cream – 0.6 tsp (3 ml).
- Lyophilized (freeze dried) colostrum – 1 to 1.5 tbsp or contents of 10 capsules.
Combine all of these. Shake them well until the solid ingredients are dissolved.
Then heat the formula to around 105° F (40.56° C) before serving.
How much milk should I feed to my baby rabbit?
According to Dr. Krempels, it’ll depend on their age.
- For 1 to 2 weeks: 5 to 7 cc/ml every feeding.
- For 2 to 3 weeks: 7 to 13 cc/ml.
- For 3 to 6 weeks: 13 to 15 cc/ml.
Give them formula twice or thrice a day. (Avoid overfeeding them.) And do this for 2 to 3 weeks.
How do I feed a baby rabbit?
First, buy a sterile oral syringe or dropper like this one. You can buy this online or at the nearest pharmacy.
Then once you’re done heating the formula, fill the syringe with it. And since it’s small, you have to refill it to meet your rabbit’s total dosage every feeding.
- Wrap your baby bunny in a soft clean towel. Make sure that they’re upright when you cover them up.
- Put them above a counter or on your lap. Whichever’s the most comfortable for you and the kitten.
- Hold them firmly in your hand (not too tight).
- Gently slip the syringe/dropper’s tip below their front lip.
- Slowly squeeze it and feed them drop by drop. This is to avoid the milk from getting into their lungs.
- Before squeezing again, ensure that they have already swallowed the previous one.
If you want to see how to do it in actual, watch this short video:
Note: Baby rabbits aren’t used to hand feeding. So expect that it’ll take a while before they learn how to eat from a syringe. Plus, it’s going to be messy during the first days. So prepare another towel to clean up any mess.
But if your baby bunny is already eating solid food and is unwell…
You might also want to check out: Rabbit Syringe Feeding: 13 Safe Tips To Force Feed A Rabbit
#7: Gradually wean them off
Baby rabbits are usually fully weaned when they’re about 4 to 6 weeks old.
Although some bunnies may take up to 9 weeks.
So if your kitten is at least 3 weeks old, you must start offering them small amounts of solid food.
Then feed them more dry pellets and hay as they grow old to have a smooth transition to adult food.
“What should I feed them?”
- Alfalfa hay: This is higher in protein, fat, fiber, and calcium than grass hay.
- Plain brown pellets: VCA says that bunnies below 7 to 8 months must eat alfalfa pellets.
Also, if they’re above 3 to 4 weeks old, they’re allowed to drink fresh clean water from a shallow dish.
“Should they still need milk?”
Until they’re not fully weaned yet, you must continue giving them milk.
This usually ends when the baby rabbit is around 6 weeks old.
So until then, hand-feed them or make sure they get enough milk from their mother.
Note: Monitor the baby rabbit’s stools. If it’s watery, experts say that it might be too early to fully wean them off.
Reading tip: Rabbit Poop Chart: 13 Different Types Of Bunny Poop
#8: Make sure they get enough cecotropes
“What are those?”
According to vets, rabbits produce 2 types of droppings.
The dry ones are called fecal pellets.
While the stickier and softer ones are called cecotropes. And it’s normal for bunnies to eat this type of poop.
It’s because, unlike fecal pellets, cecotropes came from their cecum. It’s a part of their small and large intestines that has good bacteria and fungi.
Rabbits can’t get all the nutrients from their food in one go. So by eating cecotropes (or partially digested food), they can absorb all of them at last.
Now, besides milk, baby bunnies also need to eat some of these.
This is because cecotropes have the gut flora they need to digest solid food properly.
And if they don’t get enough of these, they might be at risk of mucoid enteritis.
“What is it?”
Research says that its common symptoms are diarrhea and shiny stools. (The latter is due to excess mucus.)
Experts believe that it’s caused by a lack of indigestible fiber in their diet. And it’s usually deadly, having a fatal rate of 60% to 100%.
What to do?
If your bunny’s eyes are already open, you should give them cecotropes from healthy adult bunnies.
But if they refuse to eat it, add some to their food. (At least 2 to 3 pellets per feeding.) Until they get used to it.
You may also wonder: 17 Weird Reasons Why Baby Rabbits Die Suddenly + 5 Tips
#9: Help them pee and poop
Mother rabbits will lick their kittens’ genitals to urge them to urinate or defecate.
But if your baby bunny is orphaned and they’re newly born, they’ll need your help.
However, put your mind at ease.
You don’t have to lick their private parts as a mother bunny does.
Instead, just do the following steps after every feeding time:
- Grab a cotton ball.
- Soak it in warm water.
- Gently dab and stroke it on your kitten’s anus and genitals.
Doing this will stimulate them to pee and poop. So expect pea-sized yellowish-green stools. As well as small amounts of urine.
Note: Keep on rubbing them gently until they stop doing their business.
#10: Clean their nesting area when needed
Baby rabbits will stay in their nesting box up to 3 weeks old.
And during this, they’ll accumulate pee and poop inside.
However, it isn’t advised to regularly clean their box.
“So when and how often should I do this?”
Usually, most parents clean their nesting box on day 9.
This is right before the kittens open their eyes. To avoid them from getting ‘nest box eye.’
“What is it?”
Baby rabbits are born with their eyes closed.
And based on vets, these will start to open between days 10 and 12.
So if their environment is filthy, dust or bacteria might enter their eyes.
This will irritate their eyes and cause them to produce tears and mucus.
And if these harden, they might not be able to open their eyelids. Or worse, they may stay shut forever.
So replace the soiled nest materials with fresh ones. And salvage any bunny fur that can be reused.
Note: For easier cleaning, put a newspaper at the bottom of their box. This is so that you can lift the soiled materials in one go. Plus, it’ll also help absorb excess water.
#11: Provide them with enough space
After 3 weeks, baby rabbits will start roaming around.
They’ll be curious about their environment. And this is also an important experience for them.
So before your rabbit reaches this stage…
Make sure to bunny proof the area where their hutch or box is.
Put all the electric cables out of their reach. As well as your belongings to prevent them from getting chewed on.
You can also install a playpen or baby fence in restricted areas. So that it’ll be inaccessible to them.
“How much space do they need?”
Bunnies love hopping around so they need a bigger area to do this.
And it must be a different space from their bedroom or sleeping spot.
PDSA recommends at least 10 x 6 x 3 ft (3 x 2 x 1 m) of total area. With a cage that’s 6ft x 2ft (2m x 1m) big.
People also ask:
How do you keep baby rabbits alive?
To keep baby rabbits alive, you have to keep them safe and warm in a nesting box. They should also be well-fed. As well as free from stress like noises and excessive handling.
You have to check their body every day. They’re well-fed if their bellies are round and distended.
And it’ll be sunken if they’re not getting enough milk.
If this is your case, try the tips I mentioned above to save your bunny.
Lastly, ensure that they’re in a quiet place. And avoid handling them too much. As it may cause fracture and stress.
Newborn kittens are small and delicate. So improper handling may easily result in stress or injuries.
Also, one study says that being handled is stressful for rabbits as they’re prey animals.
Their instinct to flee is strong. So it’s normal for them to be uncomfortable when picked up.
Note: If your bunny isn’t taking in any food after doing all the tips above, see a vet right away.
How do you take care of a wild baby rabbit?
To take care of a wild baby rabbit, you must first check their condition. An orphaned bunny will keep crying and have a bluish, skinny body. So with a clean towel or gloves, pick them up carefully.
Now, give them a warm nest as well. Just like what you’ll do to a domestic bunny.
Find a box (wooden or carton) and line it with a clean cotton towel. Then cover it up partially to make it darker inside.
Experts advise to not feed them at home. This is because they’re prone to bloat and improper feeding.
For this, look for a wildlife rehabilitator near you. Or call a local exotic vet to assess the wild baby rabbit.
Check out also: 13 Simple Tips To Befriend & Tame A Wild Rabbit (How-To)