If a mother rabbit and her new brood or an orphaned litter of bunnies is under your care you will need to take action to make sure the babies remain healthy and reach maturity. Caring for newborn rabbits does take time and dedication, but it is very rewarding to watch these animals grow and mature with a bit of help from you.
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Things you need
- 12-by-14 inch cardboard box
- Straw or shredded newspaper
- Rabbit pellets
- Alfalfa, grass, timothy hay
- Cotton swab
- Small dish of warm water
- Kitten feeding bottle
- Canned kitten formula
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus
Build a nest box for the mother and newborn rabbits. Cardboard boxes that are approximately 12-by-14 inches work well.
Cut small holes in the bottom of the box to allow for drainage, and cut a hole in the front so that the mother (if there is one) can come and go as she pleases. Cut the front hole at least 4 inches up from the bottom so that the baby rabbits won't fall out.
Put hay or shredded newspaper in the box for the mother to build her nest. Make sure to check the condition of the box and replace it when it gets wet or dirty.
Keep the mother rabbit healthy by providing extra pellets and green vegetables and maintain the room at a comfortable temperature of around 70 degrees.
Assemble a Rabbit Box
Listen to see if the babies are being fed. If the box is quiet that means all is well. If you hear what sounds like kittens meowing then that means that the babies are not being fed by their mother. If the babies are being fed then skip to Step 5. If the baby rabbits are not being fed then continue to Step 2.
Provide the babies with a kitten feeding bottle. Adjust the hole in the bottle by cutting off the end of the nipple. You will know the hole has been cut to the correct size when just a fine mist of formula comes out when you squeeze it.
Feed the babies either 2 times per day or several small meals throughout the day. Each newborn rabbit can receive a total of 5 cc of kitten formula and 1/2 cc of acidophilus per day. At one week of age they should have 15 to 25 cc of kitten formula and 1 cc of acidophilus per day. At two weeks of age the amount increases to 25 to 27 cc of kitten formula and 1 cc of acidophilus each day, and finally at 3 to 4 weeks daily intake should be 30 cc of kitten formula and 2 cc of acidophilus.
Assist the babies with elimination. This is important when caring for newborn rabbits. Dip a cotton swab into warm water and use it to wash their faces and bottoms.
Introduce alfalfa, grass, timothy hay, and water at around 4 weeks of age. Let them wean off the formula gradually as they become ready for more adult foods.
Baby-proof the area where the rabbits are going to roam. At around 2 to 3 weeks the babies will begin to leave the nest. If you have them in a cage or crate make sure there is no way that they can fall or climb out of it.
Care and Feeding of Newborn Rabbits
Tips and warnings
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus can be purchased at a health food store and it is a pro biotic
- Touching a baby rabbit will not cause the mother to reject them.
- If you have found a nest of rabbits and are unsure if the mother has abandoned the nest or not, sprinkle unscented baby powder around the nest or circle it with dental floss and check each day to see if it has been disturbed.
- If you find a nest of wild baby rabbits do not assume the mother has abandoned them. Mother rabbits spend most of their time away from the nest so they do not draw attention to the babies. They typically only nurse at night.
- When you care for newborn rabbits never try to feed them cow's milk or fruits and vegetables.