How To Care For Newborn Rabbit?

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A person holding a newborn rabbit taking care of it.

Last Updated on August 2, 2021 by Rei

Do not try to care for a wild newborn rabbit if you happen to find one in the wild. Their mother will only be with them a couple of times a day to feed them and would leave them alone most of the day in order to not draw attention to the nest.

But if it’s a pet rabbit, you really don’t need to do much except provide the mother with a nesting box with bedding, high-quality nutritious food, and check the kits if they are nursing by looking at their tummies if they are round.

Wild newborn rabbits protocol

A wild newborn rabbit that's inside its cage.

If you encounter a rabbit’s nest in the wild, chances are, their mother just left them to get some food.

Do not disturb the nest and try to take care of wild rabbits yourself.

Baby rabbits need to be nursed by their mother. Their mother’s milk provides them with antibodies against pathogens.

But if you notice an injured baby rabbit in the wild, call a veterinarian or a wildlife staff to take care of those rabbits. It’s hard enough for experts to take care of abandoned baby rabbits, so make sure that you don’t try to take care of the baby rabbits yourself.

Pet newborn rabbits protocol

If your pet rabbit is pregnant, you need to get a few supplies in order to make sure that they have a successful and easy pregnancy.

Those supplies are:

  • Nest box with nest-building materials
  • Bedding
  • Nutritious food
  • Cleaning supplies

Now that you got the supplies you need, lets head over to what to do before your rabbit gave birth:

Before giving birth

A rabbit's nest box with a lot of fur inside of it.
“angora fur in nest” by henna lion is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The following steps that I will discuss below would simulate what a rabbit would do in the wild as closely as we can. This would ensure that your rabbit’s instinct is on point during pregnancy.

Follow proper feeding guide for pregnant and lactating rabbit

Pregnant rabbits don’t need to change both the amount and type of food you’re currently giving them prior to getting pregnant.

But after 3 weeks of pregnancy, you can now start to gradually increase the amount of pellet for the last 10 days of your rabbit’s pregnancy up to the first week of lactation.

How much pellets you feed your rabbit would depend on their breed.

Here’s a guide to help you determine how much to feed your bunnies.

Small BreedsMedium
Breeds
Large Breeds
•2-3 ounces of
pellets per
day
3 ½ – 4 ounces
of pellets per
day
4 – 8 ounces of
pellets per
day
Source: Understanding the Basics of Rabbit Care

Remember to gradually increase the amount of pellets based on your rabbit’s breed for the last 10 days of your rabbit’s pregnancy.

Another important factor is to make sure that the pellet you’re feeding your pregnant rabbits has the right amount of nutrition.

Here are the recommended nutritional facts for rabbit pellet according to the American Rabbit Breeders Association.

FiberFatCalciumProtein
•12% to
22%
•Not less
than 18%
•3% or less•Less than
1%
•14%-18%
Source: Understanding the Basics of Rabbit Care

Separate the doe from the bucks

Separating the doe from the bucks is to ensure that your rabbit would not get pregnant as soon as she gives birth. But make sure that they are still close enough to bond.

To do this, just place them in separate cages then put the cage close to each other.

Build a nest box

A nest box is required so that both the doe and the kits can stay warm. You can make a nest box with a simple cardboard box or from wood like the one from the video.

The important thing is that the nest box should be bigger than your rabbit.

After building your nest box, fill it with some kind of bedding like hay, grass, and straw.

After giving birth

A rabbit that's just given birth nursing her kits.
“sparrow and babies” by bonny_jean13 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

After giving birth, there’s really not much to do because it’s all instinct to rabbits on how to care for their kits.

Provide unlimited access to hay and clean drinkable water to the mother.

The most important thing you can do is provide the doe with unlimited amounts of access to hay and clean drinkable water because they need to eat high-quality food in order to nurse their kits.

Make sure to check their water and make sure it’s clean and doesn’t have any smell. Rabbits might refuse to drink dirty water due to its smell.

This is bad for a nursing doe because they need a lot of water and the lack of it could quickly lead to dehydration.

Check the kits everyday if they are nursing

Check the kits every day to see if their mother is nursing them. You can tell by looking at their tummies to see if it’s round.

If you suspect that your rabbit is not nursing its kits, immediately contact a veterinarian.

Clean the nesting box regularly.

Cleaning the nest box regularly because kits will poop and pee in their bedding. Make sure to replace their bedding daily.

You should also remove any placenta laying around after giving birth.

After two weeks, kits can now be given pellets.

After two weeks the kits might start to nimble on some pellets. But, they still need to nurse up to 7 weeks old in order to have a stronger immune system.

You need to control the amount of pellets the kits consume because if they weaned too soon, it could cause a weaker immune system because kits get antibodies from their mother’s milk to fight off pathogens.

Here’s a table to guide you on how much you should feed your rabbits as it gets older.

AgeHayPelletsVegetablesFruits
7 weeks to
7 months
Unlimited alfalfaUnlimited
12 weeksUnlimited alfalfaUnlimitedIntroduce vegetables (one at a time) in small quantities < 1/2 oz (15 g)
7 months
to 1 year
Introduce grass
hay, decrease
alfalfa
Decrease amount fed
to ½ cup per 6 lbs
(2.7 kg) BW
Increase vegetables
fed daily gradually
No more than 1-2
oz (30-60g) per 6
lbs (2.7 kg) BW
Adult
(1-5 y)
Unlimited grass
hay, oat hay, straw
¼ to ½ cup per 6 lbs
(2.7 kg) BW
1-2 cups per 6 lbs (2.7
kg) BW
No more than 2
tbsp per 6 lbs (2.7
kg) BW
Seniors
(>6 y)
Increase alfalfa hay
fed to frail, older
rabbits but monitor
calcium levels
Continue adult diet if
weight is okay; frail,
older rabbits may fed
unlimited pellets
Source: Basic-Rabbit-Care

Summary

If you found a rabbit in the wild, don’t try to take care of it on your own. Most of the time the mother is just out to get some food.

If it’s a pet rabbit, you really don’t need to do much except provide the mother with a nesting box with bedding, high-quality food, and water, and check the kits for signs of nursing by looking at their tummies if its round.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (November 16, 2021) How To Care For Newborn Rabbit?. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/how-to-care-for-newborn-rabbit-babies/.
"How To Care For Newborn Rabbit?." Bunny Horde - November 16, 2021, https://bunnyhorde.com/how-to-care-for-newborn-rabbit-babies/

Sources and further reading

  • Buseth, Marit Emilie., and Richard A. Saunders. Rabbit Behaviour, Health, and Care. CABI, 2014.
  • Lebas, F. The Rabbit: Husbandry, Health, and Production. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1997.
  • Patry, Karen, et al. The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about Housing, Feeding, Behavior, Health Care, Breeding, and Kindling. Storey Publishing, 2014.
  • Basic-Rabbit-Care
  • Baby Rabbits
  • How to Build a Nesting Box
  • Understanding the Basics of Rabbit Care