Mini lop rabbits are usually very capable parents. The mother often requires little to no assistance in building her nest and giving birth to her babies, and if she is well-tamed, you may be able to handle the babies from birth. However, there are things you can do to improve your kits' chances of survival and help to encourage healthy growth.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Make sure the babies are in a secure nest. Mini lops often start building the nest well in advance of the birth, as their smaller size can make moving materials more difficult. The kits needs to be securely nested in a soft place. Offer your rabbit more nesting materials, such as soft nesting wool, available from most pet stores.
Record the temperature of the babies' habitat. To thrive, mini lop kits need to be kept at between 20.0 and 22.2 degrees C. If the temperature is lower then this, try providing a suitable heat lamp or moving the rabbit hutch somewhere warmer. Most pet stores sell heat lamps and appropriate bulbs, or you may be able to rent one from your vet.
Check that the kits are OK frequently. Mini lops can struggle with large litters, but most cope fine and ensure all kits are fed and looked after. Don't be surprised if you don't see the kits feeding; naturally, they feed once per day, so it is easily missed. Listen out for the kits sounding very unhappy, though, and check that they appear to be growing. If they don't, you can offer them kitten milk replacement, which is available from most pets and some large pet shops. Offer the food once or twice a day if you feel the kits need it. Do not do this unless it is absolutely necessary; overfeeding is the largest cause of death in kits.
Mark down the rabbit's development on a calendar. When they become 10 days old, they should begin to open their eyes. When their eyes are open, begin to offer them hay and pellets. Young kits should not be fed fruit or vegetables; these should be offered to the mother rabbit when she is away from the babies if possible. Check that pellets do not contain extras, such as banana chips.
Offer fresh water regularly, but ensure that the container is shallow. This means the mini lop might walk through it or food may get into the water, so ensure it is cleaned regularly. Do not offer a deep container, as the kits could drown.
Begin to offer a more 'normal' diet when the kits are around 7 to 8 weeks of age. Offer small amounts of fruits and vegetables, and continue the regular supply of hay and pellets.
Take the kits to be sexed at around 8 weeks old. From this point, they are capable of breeding, and mini lop inbreeding can cause a variety of health problems. Separate the boys from the girls as close to 8 weeks as possible. Your vet also can check over the kits for any health problems.
Tips and warnings
- If the rabbits are wild, make a nest using a cardboard box padded with towels. Handle the rabbits as little as possible; feed them one at a time in your hand and use a cotton bud to rub the rabbits' lower stomach to simulate defecation. Do not get the rabbits too used to you.
- Rabbit litters frequently contain babies that are not viable. In the trade, these are often referred to as "peanuts"; they are often much smaller than the others and do not put on weight. These babies will die naturally. You also may have runts that also are smaller but will gain weight when given extra support.
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