Life Stages of Wild Rabbits

Written by sandra parker
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Life Stages of Wild Rabbits
Wild rabbits undergo several distinct life stages as they mature from newborns to adults. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Wild rabbits, like most mammals, go through a series of life stages between the time they are born and when they reach maturity. As with most mammals, wild rabbits are born blind, deaf and completely dependent on their mothers for food, warmth and protection from the elements and predators. But rabbits grow very quickly, reaching maturity in as little as six to eight months, and undergo quite a few changes during this time.

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Newborn wild rabbits are born with their eyes and ears closed, no hair and completely dependent on their mothers for every aspect of their care. The mother lines the nest with hair pulled from her own body to help keep the newborns warm while she is away. Baby wild rabbits will only nurse for a few minutes each day as the mother's milk is extremely rich. Within a few days of birth, the newborns will sprout hair of their own and begin to move around.

Two Weeks

At two weeks of age, the baby rabbits' eyes open. At this stage, the babies begin to venture out of the nest and start sampling solid foods, including the mother's faeces, though the mother's milk remains their main source of nutrition. The babies have developed a full coat of fur and spend a large amount of time learning how to coordinate their muscle movements and hop about.

One Month

At the one-month mark, the babies are spending almost all of their time outside of the nest. They are eating solid food and drinking water, though most will continue to nurse whenever the mother will allow it. Most wild baby rabbits will start the weaning process at six weeks of age. At six weeks the baby can now function completely separately from the mother, though many don't leave until they are eight weeks old or older.

Six to Eight Months

At the six- to eight-month mark the rabbits have become sexually mature and can begin having babies of their own. At this point the babies have reached their maximum size and will live approximately 6 to 10 years based on environmental factors.

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