BASIC TIPS CARE

Another Tips In Raising Kit/Kittens (Baby Rabbit)

Once your baby rabbits are born, you must look after them well to ensure their survival. Mortality rates in rabbit babies (called kits or kittens) are unfortunately high. Don’t worry if the doe leaves the kits shortly after birth; this is perfectly natural and doesn’t mean she is going to abandon them. She will feed them twice daily, usually during the night or at dusk. She will only feed them when she feels safe and secure, so it may be best to leave her alone whilst they feed to avoid causing her stress.

Newly born baby rabbits do not have fur, and are deaf. Like kittens, they are born with their eyes closed. The buck should be removed after the birth; he will not deliberately try to harm the babies but will try to mate with the doe and may trample them. Removing the buck will increase their chances of survival.

After the doe has given birth, you will need to check the baby rabbits throughout the day and night to ensure that they are warm, fed and have not found their way out of the nest and become lost. Unlike other animals, rabbits don’t mind humans handling their babies and will not reject them if they smell human scent on them. You will need to check if the kits are warm; if they are not, use a hot water bottle containing warm, but not hot or boiling, water. Wrap it in a towel and place the kits on top. If the doe has not made a nest, you may need to provide one; use a cardboard box and cut an entrance opening, preferably leaving a couple of inches at the bottom so that the babies can’t crawl out. Line the inside with hay or straw, plus any fur shed by the doe. You should replace the hay or straw every other day, as moldy or soiled bedding could be harmful for the kits.

You may need to feed the kits of they are not receiving adequate nutrition from the doe. Keep checking the kits; if they are warm and their tummies are plump, they are likely receiving sufficient milk.

Sometimes the doe’s milk can be delayed coming through- you can try to stimulate this by tweaking her nipples and gently rubbing around her nipple area. If no milk comes through, seek advice from your vet. You will need to hand rear the kits- you may also need to hand rear any kits that do not appear to be receiving sufficient nutrition from the doe. Special milk formulas for hand rearing cat kittens can be used, your vet or pet store should be able to advise.

Baby rabbits will need to be fed every 4- 6 hours until they are a fortnight old. They cannot suck on a feeding bottle, so you will need to use a sterile syringe, and warm the milk slightly. Once the kits have been fed (which can take up to half an hour each) you will need to gently rub the anal area to stimulate defecation. Hand rearing is very time consuming but rewarding if the babies survive.

Baby rabbits generally start to grow fur from around 3 days of age, and open their eyes and start to hear at around 10 days old. When they are around 4 weeks old, they are quite active and will start to nibble on solid food. However, they will still need milk from the doe; if you are hand rearing them, you will still need to continue this. They will generally be ready for weaning at around 8 weeks of age, and will be able to eat adult rabbit food. Shortly after this they will be ready for their new homes.

Raising baby rabbits can be incredibly hard work, and often heart breaking. However, it is also one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have.

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