A month and three weeks ago my rabbit gave birth to four newborns and let's just say that this whole time, they've been quite a hand full. The first signs of your rabbit becoming a mother is when weeks after she mates, she starts to pluck out her fur in an attempt to prepare a nesting space for the babies. You'll need to notice signs like putting on weight, and being overly aggressive when it comes to your pet rabbit, since she is just being protective of herself.
Although some breeds may still seem gentle enough to approach, others like mine can come off as quite hostile. Just feed her like you normally would, and don't worry about how she handles herself when she runs about and jumps off high surfaces. Rabbits are quite active during this time, where you should just let them be. I was hoping she wouldn't give birth, but seeing that she had already mated, I really didn't have a choice but to accept the fact that she could get pregnant.
When the babies did come, I was panicky and had no clue about what to do in the moment. What I spotted caught me off guard and after I sorted out my chaotic thought processing, I was able to think clearly about what to do next. To care for baby rabbits is not easy, especially when the fear of losing one or more from the litter is imminently possible. Familiarizing yourself with these baby rabbit care tips will help you deal with the babies in a much calmer approach, with no worries on the horizon.
Baby Rabbit Care and Information
This baby rabbit care guide will help you look out for baby bunnies, and do what is needed in order to care for them.
When the Babies First Arrive
A litter may consist of as many as four babies or more, depending on the type breed and how their reproductive systems work. Make sure you have a cardboard box on hand that is low enough for your rabbit to hop into when it is feeding time, or look for a hollow basket that is wide enough to accommodate the newborns. You'll notice how your rabbit has tucked the babies under a layer of fur, or tried to cover them up with hay or newspaper shreds. This is because she wants to keep them warm, seeing that they have no fur at all when they're born. This makes it easy for them to fall ill from lack of warmth. Provide a nice warm layer of soft cloth that is thick enough for them to feel comfortable. Place a heating pad underneath the cloth, but make sure it set at a very low temperature. If your home is warm enough, then placing a thin light cloth over them will help keep them warm. Be sure to take note that placing a heavy cloth above them could smother them and not give them enough air to breathe. So just make sure you puff it up and provide for them enough warmth from the overlaying cloth.
Avoid Noise and Petting
When cleaning their nesting space, carefully place the babies in an alternative box while you clean up their droppings and change the urine soaked cloth. Their eyes will only open in about 8 or 10 days, so they will blindly wobble around a surface with no barriers. It is important to keep them in an enclosed space for fear of them either falling from a height or crawling into an area where they will be hard to reach. The only time that you should pick them up is when cleaning their sleeping space. Don't let others pick them up constantly to pet them, since they need their rest. Be careful while handling the babies since they wriggle a lot and can easily fall from your grasp. Keep them in an area where noise levels are at a minimum, since sudden disturbances can alarm them which isn't good for rabbits.
How to Know If They've Been Fed
Baby rabbits when fed will have slightly protruding bellies, where their feces and urine should be enough proof of this. The tiny black flecks that you will see embedded in the cloth are the babies' feces, and you will get a strong hit of urine while cleaning. That is how you can be sure that the babies are not neglected by their mother. Some rabbits tend to ignore their young and not take charge at all; this is where you come in. The chances of a baby surviving through human care is slim, but if done properly it could help you bring up the babies yourself. Newborns when taken care of by owners, should be given 5 cc of KMR formula and ½ cc of Acidophilus in the first two weeks, by gradually increasing it to 25 cc of KMR and 1 cc of Acidophilus from the third week on. When the babies then reach their fifth week, increase the amount to 30 cc of formula and 2 cc of Acidophilus. These formulas should be fed in very small amounts at a time to avoid the babies from choking. A thin spray of this should be used and not large droplets, while feeding.
What to Feed Babies While They're Teething
Keep alfalfa hay around the nesting area, along with pellet bits from week 5, to give them something to nibble on once their teeth start to grow. Introduce pellets into their diet, and try to exclude vegetables until week 6. Once their furs have grown and they've doubled in size, they will instinctively eat what their mother is munching on. Make sure there is enough for the mother and babies since portion sizes will now have to increase to cater to all of them at once.
Fear of Being Harmed
When the babies first came, I thought my pet rabbit was going to eat one of them or more, since some animals do eat their young after they've been born (I later discovered that my rabbit may have eaten one since I wasn't present during the birth of the babies). After I researched this disturbing information, I came across a write-up that stated this very point where animals would eat their young when they're either too weak to survive or if stillborn, in an attempt to clean up nature's mistake. I had to constantly look over to where the babies were to see if she was being hawkish towards them. Turns out that everything worked out okay and that she only pounced on them if they got in her way - thankfully not harming them. So if you notice this kind of behavior, don't be alarmed or set off the panic button since at this stage she will not harm them. Two months from being born, the babies are ready to part from the mother since they will have crossed over their feeding period and can now rely on solid foods alone.
You can always mix and match breeds to start out on your own rabbit breeding since a lot of people see it as a mini investment opportunity from home. Just be sure not to give these guys away until they're at least 2 months and 2 weeks old.