Sometimes baby rabbits need help, but do you know how to tell if they need your intervention for feeding? Most people who raise rabbits can tell you that many times baby bunnies look like they need help, but they really don’t. So then, how do you tell?
Let’s say you found a nest of wild baby rabbits in your yard. You watched all day and never saw mom come to feed them, but did you know that mom only feeds them once, maybe twice every 24 hours? Did you know they do it late at night or early in the morning? The fact is that most suspected abandoned baby rabbits are not abandoned at all! During the day mamma rabbit stays away from the nest, but close enough to watch her babies. She doesn’t want to risk alerting predators to her kits. Since rabbit milk is high in fat and protein, the babies only need to nurse once a day.
How do you know if it’s time to take over and foster those young baby rabbits?
#1 You know the mother is dead.
Sometimes mom will die from birthing complications, and sometimes she can be killed by a predator. If you actually saw mom die or found her that way, then you know it’s time to help out.
#2 The mother rabbit is too stressed, sick or injured to care for her babies properly.
Sometimes a doe will abandon her kits if she has recently been relocated to a new home (like what happened to me), or she has medical issues that prevent her from feeding them. She may not feel well enough or she might not be able to get to them in the nest.
The only way you will know for sure if the kits aren’t being fed is by inspecting their tummies to see if they are skinny looking and wrinkled or they look round and smooth. Babies who haven’t been feed will have wrinkly, shrunk-in tummies.
Checking early in the morning and again in the evening should help you know for sure. Just make sure you aren’t checking constantly if they are wild rabbits or you may actually be spook mom enough to keep her away! Contrary to popular belief, if you touch them, their mom will still take care of them.
#3 The doe’s milk isn’t coming in.
You can test this by gently and securely putting mom on her back and hand expressing to see if there is anything. This is also a good time to try putting the babies on her to see if they can latch on and get things going.
If that doesn’t work, she can get a special shot from a vet that is supposed to help her milk production start. (This must be given by the third day, or it won’t work.) Or, if you are lucky enough to have access to another doe who has recently given birth, you can have her nurse them by either holding her on her back and putting the kits on her. Then put a dab of vanilla on her nose so she doesn’t smell a difference between hers and the new babies.
Just make sure they are close to the same age as her babies, or it won’t work!
#4 The litter of baby rabbit kits is unusually large.
If this happens giving supplemental feedings can help them get enough to eat until they start solid foods.
They have a harder time fighting their siblings for the food and as a result, become weaker and weaker. You can help them stay in the game and compete by supplementing with raw goat milk formula. Just because a baby is smaller and weaker, doesn’t mean it won’t turn into an amazing rabbit!
Just an FYI on keeping them warm:
If they fall out of the nest, you must put them back. The doe will not pick them up like dogs or cats do with their babies. You will also need to help with warmth if there is only one kit. In a situation with one kit, you also have to worry about it getting too much milk from mom, so be prepared to keep an eye on that.
Here is a picture of the nest my friend’s son found while mowing the backyard. Can you see those cute little baby rabbits? Their camouflage is pretty good! These guys are almost old enough to be weaned. Our best guess for their age was 5-6 weeks old. Wild rabbits are a lot smaller than most domestic rabbits!
Here is a picture of one of our hungry baby rabbits before feeding:
Here is a picture after feeding the baby rabbits:
Notice how round and tight the baby rabbit belly is? This is what a kit looks like when it is getting fed.
What should you do if the baby rabbits are really abandoned and there are no other rabbits to foster them out to?
If you know that they truly are abandoned, see if you have a wildlife rehab expert in your area by calling the department of fish and game, or a local animal shelter. Another option is to get in touch with a local rabbit breeder or veterinarian for help or information. If you can’t find a competent resource for help and you want to try and save them, see my blog post on feeding newborn baby rabbits. It is not easy and the death rate is high, but if you are sure they will die anyway, then you can definitely try to save them. Be very suspicious of formulas you find on the internet. Most use products that are made for puppies and kittens. The very best formula, in my opinion is a specially modified raw goat milk formula that you can make yourself. I have my recipe here.
- Baby bunnies that look abandoned probably aren’t.
- Full tummies are the biggest clue to know if they are being fed. They will be round and not saggy.
- If they do need help, try and find someone who has experience hand-feeding rabbit kits.
- Understand they have a low survival rate when they are 100% hand-raised, but it can be done!
This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning I receive a small commission when you purchase from my links, at no additional cost to you… which helps me spoil my adorable rescue rabbits.
Disclaimer: Jaimie is not the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, a lawyer, a doctor, a veterinarian, or a CPA. Nothing your read in my blog is a substitute for professional advice and doing your own good research. Remember that just because someone has credentials doesn’t guarantee their advice is golden or perfect. Put your smart hat on and do your due diligence. Good luck!
Comments are now closed. Feel free to search this page and prior comments to find answers to your questions. If you don’t know how to search a web page to find a keyword or phrase, I’ve provided easy instructions here. Please contact your local veterinarian if you have an emergency.
I wonder if you can help me.
I have a litter of five kits, to a young doe that has not come into milk (she did not pull fur, or build a nest. I don’t think she really understands.) I’m hand feeding, and praying that her milk comes in sooner rather than later, but we’re on day three and it hasn’t happened yet.
1. I have another doe that is due today. Is the age different too great to graft them onto the new mum?
2. I’m hand feeding, but I can’t get them to get to that nice fat belly stage. They will suck milk out a qtip, but they aren’t drinking enough. Each day so far, they have all dropped 1 gram in weight, and they were only about 30 grams to begin with, so today that’s 10% of their birth weights. I’m being very, very careful because I don’t want to drown them, or asphyxiate them, or any of the other horrible things you can accidentally do whilst hand feeding. What am I doing wrong?
Hi, Sami! The age difference is not too great, especially since they are losing weight. Your best bet is to get them in with the new litter if it’s not too large of a litter already. I have heard that you can put a dab of vanilla on the doe’s nose and sneak the other kits in the nest. By the time the smell wears off, they will all smell the same. Keep watching for full bellies if you do this, of course.
If that won’t work for whatever reason, try switching to a cosmetic sponge cut in the shape of a triangle instead of a cotton swab. It holds more milk and they can suck on it better. The main thing to do when feeding is hold them upright and not on their back when feeding. They will get milk in their noses anyway, just minimize it as much as possible by going slowly and dabbing their nose ASAP with a soft clean cloth when they do start to get it up the nose. Keep trying, they will get better at it. Good luck!
Shalin Naugle says
We have 4 kits left out of 5 that are now 9 days old. They seem to be constipated on the ratio of formula you have posted….any tips? Thanks so much!
Hi Shalin! I am so sorry about your loss. If kits are constipated, the fresh goat milk without the added powder would probably help. When mine were dehydrated, I gave them the fresh goat milk for a few feedings to prevent constipation and slowly added more and more powder to the mix so they could adjust. I figured the more hydrated they were, the less likely they were to be constipated.
Tanise Crubbrest says
Mother bunny only gave birth to one living bunny. Bunny is now 2 weeks old and looks really fat. He is starting to nibble on hay. What should i do to make sure he isn’t being fed too much milk ?
Hi, Tanise! I don’t think it’s too much of a problem if he is fat right now, because he will be at weaning age in a few weeks. However, if you are worried and would like to keep his weight from ballooning out of control, you could remove mom into a separate area or move the nesting box into a separate area and only allow one feeding per day since that is all baby rabbits need. That way, even if he feeds a lot when he eats, he won’t be getting multiple feedings a day.
My dogs found 3 baby bunnies in the back yard, I was worried the mom wouldn’t touch them if I did so I picked them up with a paper towel and put them back under some grass.
1. Will mom be able to find them?
2. Might another bunny adopt them?
3. Will mom still feed them after I touched them with the paper towel?
4. Should I be checking on them from now on?
Hi Kayela. I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. Somehow your message was placed in the spam folder. 🙁 If the babies were put back in the nest mom will be able to find them. Another bunny won’t automatically adopt them, especially with wild bunnies. With domestic rabbits they can be tricked into accepting kits that aren’t their own, but you actually have to intervene for that and have another mom rabbit around. The mom will still feed them after you touched them unless she can’t find them. If she saw you move them, she will be able to find them, but bunnies don’t pick up and move their kits back to their nest. You can check on them. It’ won’t harm them. The best thing to do in that situation is to put them back in their nest if you know where it is and put a small barricade around it to keep your dog away from them. Just make sure mamma rabbit can get to them.
Hi. I had to take in a baby bunny. I’m guessing 5-6 weeks old. & I saw him eat a leaf. Is this a sign he will eat & drink on his own? Or should I continue trying to use the dropper? (Which he wont really drink from).
Hi Celeste! It depends on if he is wild or domestic. If he’s that old, he should be able to drink from a small shallow dish either way. You could try introducing him to a rabbit water bottle. If you are trying to give him formula, you could keep trying. Sometimes it takes a while for them to adjust to that. Since you don’t know for sure how old he is, he might not need formula at all. It doesn’t hurt to try a few things to see what he does best with.
Wild baby bunny found flopping in a pricker bush..8/22/19 kids brought it home to me . Looks to be about 4-5 weeks old eyes open has teeth. Been bottle feeding it formula and introduced grass and weeds and seemed to really enjoy that. I think this poor baby rabbit has something neurologically wrong with it. Doesn’t really hop host flops around to get around..been using rice bags to keep it warm. Seems to be doing ok eating and stuff . Just concerned about the flopping around.
Hi, Holly! It’s really hard to tell what could be wrong. It could be neurological like you said, or it could be from an injury, illness or parasite. One of my bunnies got head tilt from an inner ear infection. It caused dizziness and falling over and we were able to treat that with rabbit-friendly antibiotics. It would be a really good idea to talk to a veterinarian or a wild life rehabilitator. Even if they aren’t able to figure out exactly what it is, they could help to rule things out. There are bunnies out there that will adapt to whatever disability they have, so it is possible that he may get through this. If this does happen to be permanent, there is no way it will survive if released back into the wild. Depending on what you want to do, you can continue to try and raise him yourself or give him to someone who can take good care of him. I know that’s probably a hard choice because of how the kids feel about him. Sometimes all you can do is the best you can and let nature take its course, too. There is nothing morally wrong with that, even though it is hard to do. I wish you the best of luck!
Hello, I have 2 domestic bunnies. Both are female, 1 is 3-4 months and the other is 5-6 weeks old. Both our not fixed yet. I was wondering if you knew if a baby rabbit is taken away from its mother to soon if it with fiercely lick my hand? I have researched enough to see most responses are that it’s just showing affection and love but she started out nibbling and biting until I would tap on her nose and kind of shriek like a bunny would if it was hurt and she stopped biting but is now just licking to the point where it seems to me she’s searching for her mom to latch on to? Maybe I am wrong, both my bunnies will come running when they see me and the older bunny will even lay down as soon as she gets to me in a way that she’s letting me know its ok to pet her and she wants the attention and the little bunny is starting to copy her. Also the older bunny acts like she is the mother, which is strange (but adorable) to me because she has never had a litter or really been around other rabbits other than her litter mates . Should I be giving the little rabbit some kind of extra type of food? Their diets are rabbit pellets, Timothy hay, romaine/spinach lettuce, celery, broccoli , and of course fresh water daily.
Hi, Whitney! Your rabbits sound totally adorable! I’m not quite sure about the licking. One of my babies had a habit of nibbling on me, but he out grew it, especially since I discouraged it. The licking could be part of her personality, or partially due to being so young. In my opinion, that is too young to be weaned. She might just be missing nursing, like you said. Give her a few weeks and see if it subsides. If not, a vet might have more insight. Hopefully, it will simply be a nice chance to bond with her. 🙂 Timothy hay and pellets are good. Also, rotating out the types of rabbit-friendly greens is nice for them. That is what my rabbits are happy eating. It sounds like you are doing a great job!
Alden Phillips says
I’ve heard that celery can kill rabbits
Hi Alden! I have heard that too, along with cabbage, but fortunately both celery and cabbage are safe to feed in moderation. Of course, each bunny is different and can react differently to a food than other rabbits. Some are just more sensitive than others. Here is a great article that shows suggested food for rabbits and how much: https://rabbit.org/suggested-vegetables-and-fruits-for-a-rabbit-diet/
Hello.. I don’t know what to do. My Dad mowed my back lawn just over 48 hours ago and moved the baby bunnies to some weeds along the fence line. He didn’t tell me until about 24 hours later. So, I started doing research but I’ve never done this before. I went to check on the babies a few hours ago and 1 out of the 4 was dead. I tried to move the other 3 bunnies back to the den and cover them up with left over dried grass and some of mom’s fur. One of the babies got away from me and I can’t find it. So as I’m typing this, 2 of the babies are together in the den. I took a sock, filled it with rice and microwaved for a minute and put it half in the den, half out(trying not to disturb them into running out again). They are chipmunk sized and obviously need nourishment. Will mom come back tonight to feed them or has it been to long? I took 2 twigs and layed them over the nest in a cross cross pattern to determine in the morning if mom came back. If she doesn’t, what exactly should I do because I know the remaining 2 don’t have much time left…
Hi, Stephanie. It sounds like you got quite the shock after Dad mowed the lawn! You did the right thing moving the babies back to their den and covering them up with grass and fir. They don’t need the sock to keep warm if there are two of them. There is a chance the mom will come back when no one is around and feed them, because she knows where the den is. The feeding usually happens in the early morning or in the evening. If one got away, it sounds like they are a little bit older. If so, it might come back to the den. Since they weren’t at the nest for 24 hours, they missed one or two feedings, possibly more. If it becomes obvious they aren’t being taken care of, you can see if a veterinarian can help or try feeding them yourself. I have information on feeding baby rabbits here: https://jaimielistens.com/how-to-feed-orphaned-baby-rabbits/
Jodi S. says
I have baby bunnies in my liner of my whiskey barrel, worried about when they start jumping and moving around. If they fall out they won’t get back. So should I move the liner to the ground?
Hi, Jodi! You are right, that’s quite the jump to get back in! You could move it if you think it would be safer or slide something next to it that is easy for them to climb in if they do fall out. You might have to get creative on that, like stacking some wood or furniture.
Lisa Bella says
I had a puppy in my yard yesterday and he found a wild bunny nest he was pulling at the top of it but we didn’t see the babies until about 20 mins later. We kept the animal away and returned the one that was pulled out. I put the original nesting back on top with new grass and a couple sticks. I went to check this morning and the nest was covered back up but when I looked inside there is only one baby left. These are little ones no fur and eyes still shut. Would she have moved the others? From what I’m reading she would not but I’m concerned for this ones safety now that it is all alone. Staying warm enough and all do I leave it in the nest? I love animals and would hate to remove it from nest if she was going to come back but I don’t know what to think of the others not being there anymore. Your help is greatly appreciated!
Hi, Lisa! Rabbits don’t move their young, so that wouldn’t be the case. If the nest was covered back up, then more than likely mom did that. They sound really young, so doubtful they wandered off on their own. From what you said, it sounds like a predator may have took them and mom covered up what she had left. If mom is taking care of it, then that is the best chance it has. If the nest is well insulated it may stay warm enough. You could try putting a barrier or fence around the nest with an opening just big enough for mom to fit through to protect it as best you can. The only way to be sure the kit is abandoned is to see if it has a shrunken tummy. That’s how you tell if it is being fed. If it were me, I would check twice a day 12 hours apart. Good luck!
Found nest of dead baby rabbits. They were about size of small banana. Some of them DEEP DOWN in nest appear partially eaten (?) Were the babies cannabalizing each other. Some had blood around mouth. No rigormortis. No even the ones that appeared partially eaten. What do you think happed?
Hi, Carol. That’s a bummer! I have never heard of baby rabbits cannibalizing each other. From what you told me, it sounds like a predator attack. A small predator that could have easily done that would be a mink. They kill adult rabbits too, but they are really small and would easily fit down a rabbit hole. If you know the common predators in your area, you might be able to narrow it down. Here is a link that might be helpful for some of the most common predators for livestock, which might be relevant to the wild rabbits: http://icwdm.org/inspection/livestock.aspx
Back in March I found a lionhead bunny in the street and brought her into my home. To my surprise, she turned out to be pregnant. Now, I have four bunnies lol. The babies are about to be 4 months and they chase her around the whole house to breast feed. Should I do something about it or will they eventually ease up on her on their own?
Hi, Natalie! I guess that was a find one, get three free special. LOL! It sounds like mom could use a break and really, they are too old to be nursing. You could separate areas for them so they can still see each other but mom isn’t being chased. A baby gate or wire grid shelving pieces zip-tied together would work. I have the shelving and it works great because you can create them as big or small as you need. Also, since they are getting older, they need to be separated by sex and I wouldn’t wait on that one. You might have a baby boom on your hands. 🙂
We had accidentally discovered a bunny nest in front garden and moved some of the moms fur from the top. Saw for sure Two bunnies with eyes open move around so we covered again best as possible not to disturb, mommy bunny came later and fixed it fur on top and it looked protected and back to normal. That night I heard a bunny noise and unfortunately in the Mornin discovered on front porch blood and spoon full of guts left, with a cat paw print in blood. We feel horrible like we caused their scent to be exposed or somethin, they were almost ready to leave nest size wise from wat we’ve read. When I heard the noise, bunny yelp, at night I looked outside and the mommy bunny was further back on lawn standing and looking back at me I thought? But I’m sure it was watching this cat attack, do u think the mommy was able to save the other baby and move it or would the cat have killed them all? Jus a sad experience. I would really appreciate an private email with your thoughts on us disturbing the nest, then that night after weeks being safe it’s attacked. also if the mom could have saved any? Thanks so much
Hi, Steve! I feel your pain! This is totally NOT your fault at all. Cats do this all the time. At our place they get in our fenced back yard, use our garden as a litter box (totally gross) and kill our beloved humming birds, song birds and even adult wild rabbits. Cats are visual hunters and kill even if they are not hungry due to instinct. As old as the babies sound, there is a really good chance they were outside the nest to explore a little and the cat saw them and took advantage. There may have been survivors, so it’s OK to check. The mother will not move them, but some may have gotten away or were deeper in the nest. I am really sorry you had to witness the carnage thinking you accidentally played some part. Where we live we have leash laws and it’s actually against the law for the any neighbor cats to roam on to our property, but obviously outdoor cats go where they want. I removed your last name to protect your privacy before adding your comment. There are a lot of people who run into these scenarios thinking it’s their fault and they really need to know that it is not.
Thanks for the reply with kind words. It was sad for us to experience but I am thankful that someone like you, will take the time to help give advice or make a complete stranger feel better. Just a big thank you to a very beautiful person.
Thank you, Steve. Your comment really made my day!
Mowing the lawn today, my husband ran over a wild bunny nest! To our surprise all 5 were squirming and thriving. We fixed their nest back as best we could, and came back to check on them a few hours later. Two had escaped the nest. One was dead in the heat and another was dead inside the nest. My guess is, we live in Oklahoma and it is peak summer. Since my husband mowed and took away their shade, they are overheating. We moved the remaining three in a shoe box with a towel and have them inside where it is cool. Did we make the right choice and what can we do to ensure the remaining babies live?
Hi, Sarah! If the babies show no signs of a predator attack, then it probably was the heat. There are a few things you could try. First, you could try to make a shade tent over the nest and put them back before dusk. Or, you could try just keeping them inside for the hottest part of the day then put them back. I have domestic outdoor rabbits and I bring them inside for the hottest part of the day if it starts to get close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter, then when the sun starts to go down I put them back outside. The last option, and probably the most difficult, is to keep them inside and care for them until they are bigger. Since we aren’t exactly sure how old they are, they might have a higher chance of survival if put back. If you do choose to put them back and are afraid predators might find them, you could put a temporary fence around them with an opening just large enough for mom to fit through.
My dogs found a wild bunny nest on Tuesday. We had seen the nest prepped for about a week before the kits were born so I’m fairly sure they are currently 5 days old. They have a small amount of fur but their eyes are not open yet.
The dogs are very interested in the nest. When they go out to do their business, I place a large metal dog crate over the nest to protect them and the dogs just stare. I remove the crate when the dogs are in the house.
At night I’ve been marking the nest with a tic tac toe pattern of long grass to ensure mamma us retuning to feed each night and morning.
Today the nest appears untouched. The bunnies are active, “hoppy” and seemed to try and get to the surface for feeding when I uncovered them this morning to check.
I cut the lawn around the nest yesterday but would all the commotion have scared mom away?
When should I be concerned that they are not getting fed?
Hi, Kelly. That’s good you are keeping a close eye on them and keeping your dogs at a distance with the crate, which is a great idea! It sounds like you are doing a good job. Mom should come back when she feels it is safe to do so, unless she is injured or worse. Since mom usually feeds them in the early mornings or at dusk, you could wait until three possible feeding times have passed with no sign of her. That would be a morning, evening and morning OR an evening, morning and evening. You also could uncover the nest and check their bellies to see if they look fed. If the weather is really hot, they can dehydrate even faster, so just watch and use your best judgement. If you have a vet or local wildlife rehabilitator in your area you can call, it would be a good idea to get their advice.
My dogs found a nest and killed 3 of hopefully only 4 babies but the nesting is all over yard so idk where to put the one last baby this one I saved out of dogs month and seems to be doing ok what do I do
Hi, Andrea! I’m sorry you had this happen to you. You have a couple of options. You could try and put the nest back together and keep the dogs away. Or, you can try and care for the little one yourself. I do believe he would be better off with his mom, and you could always check on him periodically to see if he is being taken care of. Mark the top of the covered nest with 4 regular pieces of dental floss in a grid pattern, once you cover him up. That way you can tell if mom has visited. If he’s not being cared for, then you can try and care for him yourself if that’s what you want to do. It’s OK if you put him back and let nature take its course, too. Rabbits are prey animals and this is very common, so there is no reason for you to feel guilty or obligated, even though it still feels heartbreaking. I wish you the best of luck!
I have a bunny that got out from the kept bunnies in the barn. She made a nest a week ago with 5-6 babies and today one of the babies is far from the nest and around where momma hangs out. What should I do put the baby back with the rest of them?
Hi, Michelle. Yes, at a week old I would move the baby back to the nest.
Hi, I am kind of panicking at the moment. So I decided to breed by bunnies and it went very well. My doe gave birth today to only one baby. She seemed calm and relaxed, but I checked on the baby and noticed it was cool to the touch (still moving around though) because the mother is small and could not put fur everywhere in the nest box and it has no siblings to keep it warm. I tried to do a lot of research and decided to move the pair inside so the baby could be warm, even though the action of moving them inside might stress the mom into abandoning the baby. I waited about 3 hours after moving them to check on them, and the mother was in the nest box. I figured it was great, because maybe she was feeding it. I went in there again a few minutes ago and she hopped in it again. By now it is obvious to me that she is using the nest as a shelter for herself instead of a nest for the baby, which means she isn’t looking out for it really. The baby is less than a day old so it probably hasn’t been fed yet, and based on the mothers behavior, it won’t be.
So here is my question, how doomed is this baby?
Hi, Savannah! It’s still early on, so baby still has a good chance. Mom might still need time to adjust but the move may have stressed her. If it were me, I would make sure the kit is kept warm enough but not too hot. You might have to set up a box with a nest in it and a heating source beneath part of it or on the side. If you have to use a heating pad it needs to be set on low and watched closely. The next critical thing is feeding. You might want to try giving mom a little more time to see if instincts and milk kick in. If you don’t think the baby is getting fed after the first 48 hours, then your best option is to hold mom on her back securely and put the baby on her to nurse. If her milk doesn’t come in right away, it might be good to contact your vet to see if they have any treatments that can help with that. I did hear of a shot they can give them, but it needs to be done within the first two days or something like that.
I have a litter of kits almost 2 days old momma make a nest with her hair is that a sign she’s gonna take care of them I’m not sure if they are eating
Hi, Savannah! Making a nest and pulling hair is a good sign, but the only way to tell for sure is to check their bellies to see if they are round and firm or saggy and sunken in. If you check them a couple of times a day, you will get a better idea.
Sharon Hahn says
We have a nest of baby bunnies in a large flower pot in our yard. Two of the bunnies came out of the nest yesterday after eating some of the flower leaves. There are at least two bunnies still in the nest. I don’t know if they fell out of the pot because they were curious or it was time for them to leave the nest. They ate stuff in the grass and ran around but stayed together when they rested. This morning I can’t find them although there are plenty of places for them to go. I believe mom is still coming back. Should I put the babies back in the nest or let them be?
Hi, Sharon! What a joy to be able to watch them! What you could do so you don’t have to handle them and worry is to put something near the pot that they can use as bunny steps. A couple of flower pots turned upside down of varying heights next to the big pot would work. That way they can hop up to the nest area a little easier. 🙂
Hi Jaimie, I have a litter of four kits and I’m worried momma isn’t feeding them. This is their second day and their bellies are wrinkly and a bit shrunken. I’ve seen people help nurse their does by putting them on their back and bringing the kits to her. Unfortunately this won’t work for me because my rabbit hates being held and squirms to run away. I want to help these bunnies but I don’t know what to do.
It does help them calm down if you have two people to turn the rabbit on it’s back with one massaging the rabbit and the other putting the kits on mom. (If you massage them between the ears and eyes on the side of their head it helps to calm them down.)
If that doesn’t work, by the third day of not being fed, you will need to feed them yourself. Here is an article I wrote specifically for feeding newborns. It’s how I fed mine when their mom wouldn’t feed them: https://jaimielistens.com/how-to-feed-orphaned-baby-rabbits/
Get the supplies you need quickly just in case. Good luck!!
My doe had a litter of five and four of them look healthy. One is small and skinny. I feel it is not getting fed. What should I do?
Hi, Lilee! The first thing I would try is having someone help you hold the doe on her back or side and see if you can give the weak one an opportunity to nurse. If that doesn’t work, you could rotate the kits in shifts to give the weaker one less competition at feeding time. Just make sure they are kept in a warm safe spot when in rotation. Another thing you could try is hand feeding goat milk to the weak one so it has more energy to compete at feeding times. It is riskier to hand feed if milk gets into the kit’s lungs, but you might not want to risk any trouble with the healthy kits by rotating them. The longer the weak kit goes without eating, the less it will be able to compete for food. I wish you the best with your new litter!
Edina Gruner says
My bunny gave birth now 3, 5 days ago. She has 3 cute babies. I was very shocked, cause I did not expect it, she gave birth in a very bad corner, so I had to put the babies into a box. I tried to be very careful, and I made very big research if I can touch them. After she did not find them, even they were in the same place but in a box. I was very scared that I made a big mistake. Next days I saw that she was in that box, she covered them with more hair, as I realised, or it was different like I did. Yesterday I checked the babies’ belly they seemed round as on your pic. This morning I checked them but their belly was smaller, not that around shape. They are moving much and seem strong, their skin is not dry, they seem ok, but I am not sure what is happening if she feeds them or not. I am very scared if I make mistake. I am the only one who cares about the mother, yesterday in front of the nest she was even licking and softly biting my hand, so I am sure she trusts me. Now they are 3, 5 days old, so I guess if she did not feed them would be seen? Sorry for my English it is not perfect.Thank you for your help.
Hi, Edina! From what you described, it sounds like she is taking care of them. The bellies will look smaller if you happen to look at them right before a normal feeding. That’s really good the mother trusts you. I hope they do well!
Hello. I have two female bunnies and one male bunny. One of my female bunnies recently gave birth to 11 babies. I check on them often to make sure their body temperature is warm. The momma is Bella. I let her out daily to allow her to get of her hutch to get exercise However, my other bunny name Lucy, sneaks in and sits on her babies. Is this normal or dangerous?
Hi, Christy! Congrats on the litter! It might be harmless, but for me personally – I wouldn’t allow it. Since only you know your rabbits, you will have to make a judgement call. Are the two females a bonded pair and get along? My concern is that it may be a dominant behavior and it may not be the safest thing for the kits. I really don’t know if it’s normal behavior, but there is no reason to let Lucy in to sit on them. They don’t need any help staying warm and if she panics about anything, she may stomp them. It may also make Bella less interested in caring for them.
Alaina McGuire says
Please help. My dog got into a nest which I saw there were 4 bunnies, then my dog got into again and got 1 bunny. Went to go put him back and he was the only one.. found his sibling and put them both into the nest. Checked on them today and the one sibling ran away while the other guy hung back, barely could run as fast as his sibling… barely could even run. I took him in and placed him into a box with the leftovers of the damaged nest. They have eyes open, ears up. But this guy just seems so weak compared to his siblings. Please give me some advice.
Hi, Alaina. I would put the nest back, keep the dog away from the area and take the injured rabbit to a vet or wildlife local rehabilitator. Depending on how old the other babies are, mom might still be taking care of them.