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Raising healthy baby rabbits (kits) require knowledge and proper planning
Rabbits are considered the easiest thing to raise because they are docile and easy to handle. Furthermore, they are not choosy eaters and they require minimum attention. However, caring for baby rabbits may require some additional effort. This is especially if their mother is deceased. A lot of advice is floating out there about rabbit care. Here is some advice from experienced rabbit rearers. It will save you a lot if time and money that would have been wasted on trial and error.
Provide adequate shelter
A mother rabbit usually prepares a nest made of soft materials. This takes place a few days before the babies are due. Rabbits are not as nurturing as cats or dogs so they may not make an adequate nest. Examine the mother’s nest for adequacy then adjust it accordingly. If the babies are huddled together in a nest, then let them stay that way. But if the rabbits are orphaned, or they are scattered all over the pen , then make them a nest.
Provide a Nest box
- Pick a cardboard box or a plastic container that is not too narrow. You can also purchase a nice nest box from any popular pet store or pick one available nesting box on this website.
- You can buy a metal or wooden one, it really doesn’t matter as long as your environment is temperature controlled. (metal ones will get hot/cold more if the temperature changes)
Fill the box with clean straw or wood shavings, so the doe can burrow a cavity for a nest.
Alternatively, you can use some soft fabrics and line the container to make a soft bed. The best material to use are cotton of soft terry cloth.
- Leave enough space for the mother rabbit to have access to the babies for feeding.
- Is you are using cloth, place some grass on the linen for the babies to use for waste removal.
- Place the nest box in an easily accessible part of the rabbit pen.
Isolate the mother rabbit and the babies
If you have other rabbits in your home, separate them from the mother rabbit and the babies. This is very important if your rabbit pen is a bit overcrowded. It is easier to practice hygiene in a pen where population is low. This is also done to avoid the mother rabbit being impregnated again too soon. It is easier to isolate the mother and babies because male rabbits are hard to identify. It is also easier to distribute the babies to adopting females if the babies are too many. The adopting females help the mother in licking the baby’s genitals to stimulate them into function.
Check the babies for feeding success
The mother rabbit usually feeds the young ones once or twice a day. She lies down and the young gather around her and suckle. She then links them clean and leaves them resting. She spends the rest of the day observing them from a distance. This is a survival mechanism that rabbits use to keep predators away from the scentless young ones.
Orphaned rabbits are fed with goats milk or enriched kitten milk replacer. The milk mixed with some whipping cream should be dispensed once or twice a day. This is done using an oral syringe. All this items are available in any good pet store. The babies genitals should be checked to make sure normal waste removal is taking place. This should be done by gently wiping the genitals with a soft wet warm flannel. This mimics the mothers cleaning function.
Baby rabbits open their eyes at about ten days of age. Some may open their eyes earlier and others later. They start moving about at this stage. Their weaning starts at this point by placing a shallow bowl of water in their pen. Introduce a new vegetable every day and observe how they react to it. This should include small amounts of cabbage, kale, carrots and other fresh produce.
When they turn three weeks old, pellets and hay should be added to their diet. They will begin to eat more and more of the solid foods and eventually stop taking milk. The milk should not be totally withdrawn until they are 8 weeks old.
Baby rabbits are prone to infections do their nest should be cleaned out every day. Their good and water should also be very clean. The person handling them should wash their hands well and keep any sick rabbit separate from the other ones. A better option would be to use disposable latex gloves so there is no residue or scent left behind. This is to avoid death due to diarrhea or blindness caused by infections.
Eight weeks old rabbits are independent enough to stay on their own but the longer you can keep them with the mom, the higher their chances of survival. 10-12 weeks old bunnies are of a good age to be separated from the mother. You should remove all except one to allow for the doe to adjust and her milk to try out. You can remove the last one 3-4 days later . They kits may be tagged for identification by tagging one of the years. If you rear other rabbits, then you may introduce these young ones into the general population. This is especially if you want them to start mating. You may wait for them to grow a bit more by placing them in individual cages until they turn twelve weeks old. By this time, you will have successfully raised up a litter of baby rabbits.