How To Set Up The Right
Home or Living Environment
Making Mama &
her babies safe and cozy
provide the mother bunny with a comfortable
cage or living space. The living space
should be clean, large enough for her to move around, and
protected from direct sun and excessive heat or cold. The living
space should also be fairly calm and quiet -- no barking dogs,
loud or "grabby" children, etc. The mother will most likely want
to be left alone by your other pet rabbits -- so make sure she
has a room or cage to herself. (For some information on how not
to house a mother bunny,
Second, provide the
mother bunny with a nest box and
nesting materials. You can buy or make a wooden nest box, or
purchase an ordinary "litter box". Line the bottom of the box with Carefresh or your favorite "bunny litter" product to absorb any moisture
(urine, birth fluids, etc.), then cover it with Alfalfa, Timothy Hay, or
even dried grasses (pesticide free only). Don't worry about making it
look "right", your mother bunny will adjust it as needed. She will also
pluck out some of her own fur to add extra warmth and softness to the
Provide the mother bunny with plenty of fresh water, rabbit
chow, fresh vegetables
per day), and Timothy Hay
or Alfalfa. She should
also have a vitamin &
mineral enriched salt lick.
To Care For The
And what to do when Mama bunny won't do it
all for herself.
The key elements to caring for new babies are :
taking good care of the mother rabbit,
as well as
providing the right environment (which
includes a nest box), and attending to
issues of feeding, warmth,
sanitation/safety. We have outlined
the last three below. Please read carefully, and you will find
that most of your questions about raising baby bunnies will be answered.
But be sure to also read the preceding section
about providing the right environment. Be sure to also read our page about
general rabbit care. If you've read
all of this material and still have questions, then go ahead and
send us some
email, and we'll be happy to help.
Note: If you've found wild
baby bunnies, click here to learn
what to do.
|Please note that the mother
bunny will not reject her babies because of human handling.
Human smell will not worry her at all!
She is much more likely to be bothered by loud noises and
constant activity near the cage.
|If all goes
well, mother bunny will completely take care of feeding.
have to do a thing for the first two weeks. (After two
weeks you will see them trying the same foods that you provide the
mother. Be sure to increase the food provided as the babies
eat more solid food.)
worry if you don't see her nursing the babies the first day.
This is normal.
|But do watch to see
how the mother reacts to them. If after a day or two she
appears anxious or unhappy about being in the cage with the babies,
if she hides in the corner, then you will want to check on the
babies often to see that they are warm enough and that their little
tummies are somewhat rounded.
If after two days the
babies are looking shriveled, with loose baggy skin and sunken,
empty tummies, then you may need to intervene.
with the "Pet Cab Method":
If you have reason to
believe the mother is not nursing the
babies enough, you may try the following:
Line a small pet cab
with a thick towel and/or nesting material and place the mother and
babies inside. (Don't worry, as long as the floor of the pet cab is
well cushioned, she will not "squash" them or otherwise hurt them when
she steps on them.)
Attach a pet watering
bottle (such as "licks-it", etc.) to the outside of the cage so that
the metal spout of the bottle protrudes into the cage/pet cab.
Attach a food bowl to
the inside of the pet cab.
Do not keep the mother
bunny closed up in the pet cab with the babies all the time.
She should be allowed to come out and hop around for a few hours at a
time to get some exercise,
after being confined with the babies for 1-3 hours. You can leave her in
the pet cab over night however, but be sure to let her come out and get
some exercise first thing in the morning.
How long to confine
with the pet cab: many mother
bunnies will get the idea and begin feeding the babies on their own
after only a few days. However, in rare cases you may need to continue using the pet
cab arrangement for one to two weeks -- or until the babies can chase
her around the cage and successfully get a meal.
After the first few
days of using the pet cab to confine the mother, the babies should be
sufficiently re-hydrated so that you can reduce the mother's time in the
cab to night time plus 2 or 3 times during the day.
If the above intervention does not work
and the mother does not begin feeding the babies on her own,
next best option is to feed the babies formula.
Please note that most vets will tell you it is pointless to
bottle or formula feed a baby bunny who is less than one or two weeks
Having tried this several times myself, I can assure you... they
are totally correct. Hand feeding such a young bunny is very,
very difficult. And few things are worse than realizing
that the tiny baby you have tried to feed has probably just died
from formula milk ending up in his lungs rather than his
Therefore, do not try hand feeding with formula until you have
tried the pet cab method outlined above. So far we and everyone
we've recommended it to have had a 100% success rate. (For more
information on why some mother bunnies don't nurse their young,
still find you need to feed with formula
to read more about it.
important that your babies don't lose too much body heat.
The more they must burn calories to keep warm, the more they must
eat. And since the mother often doesn't feed them for the
first day, this could quickly become a problem. So keep your
babies out of the cold, and out of the wind.
babies have arrived at an unfortunate time, like the middle of
winter, and you have them in an outdoor cage or pen, you may need to
bring them indoors, at least for a few weeks.
It's also important
that the babies aren't getting wet.
So if you live someplace warm, but rainy be sure the rain isn't
getting inside to wet the bunnies or their bedding.
babies are being fed by the mother, but you think weather is too
cold, you may want to
provide a heating pad to help keep them warm during the first week.
You can place the heating pad under the pet
cab or cage bottom and set the heat on low.
Just be sure that the mother can't get to the
pad or the pad's electrical cord to chew on it.
You can turn the heating
pad off when the mother is in the pet cab or nest box
(to prevent her getting too warm). If for some reason you did
not provide the mother bunny with actual nesting materials (but
substituted a towel instead), you can place a heating pad under the
nesting box to keep the babies warm. (Note that with nesting
material, the babies will burrow down, allowing the nesting material
to completely cover them, thus keeping them warm and cozy.
This makes heating pads unnecessary in most cases.)
Safety & Hygiene
Keep the cage and
nest box reasonably clean.
This means you'll need to check in each day to be
sure the environment is not becoming damp or excessively
babies safe from the intrusions of other rabbits
(especially during the first two weeks). This is
especially true of other pregnant females who may kill the young bunnies to make room for their
own kits in the nest.
If the breeding male has remained in the cage or etc.
with the female, you will want to carefully observe his
reactions to and interactions with the babies.
Most people prefer to remove the male for the first week
or two, just to be on the safe side. He can have
supervised playtime with the female when she comes out
Certainly the male should be removed completely if his
has a tendency toward rough or aggressive behavior.
But often it is the female's own aggressive behavior
prior to giving birth will make it necessary to remove
the male, for his own safety.
we advise neutering your male rabbit right away to
prevent unwanted pregnancies.
rabbit can become pregnant again a mere three days after
30 days later,
you will have another litter of babies. This is
not good for your doe's health. Nor is it
responsible pet ownership. Read
Breeding Like Rabbits!
|Keep the mother and babies safe from potential
includes raccoons and other wildlife as well as family
pets. Baby rabbits look tasty to cats and dogs who
are otherwise friendly or tolerant toward adult rabbits.|
|Be sure that your cage or hutch will not allow the
babies to fall out --
either through the bottom, or other the sides.
Baby bunnies only a few hours old have been known to
fall or creep out of the cage and become lost under a
bed, leaf litter, or other item.|
|After about a 3-7 days you may need to clean out the
Put a clean towel in a deep-sided box
and transfer the bunnies to this while you dump out the
dirty litter from the nest box. Save as much of
the mother bunny's fur (lining the nest) as you can, and
put this back in the next box on top of the clean
litter. Return the babies to the next box.|
||Always be careful about handling the babies.
It is so easy for them to squirm and leap out of your
hands and thus fall to the floor. A baby can break
a collar bone or worse in such a fall. So only
hold one baby at a time. Cup one hand under the
baby, and one hand over, covering completely.
If you want to interact with
them, please sit down on a soft carpet or thick
comforter or quilt. Keep your hands low to the
carpet/quilt. And be prepared for the baby to
suddenly twitch or squirm, causing itself to leap
surprisingly high or far! Always supervise
children carefully around babies. In the case of
preschoolers and young toddlers it is often better to
make them wait until the bunnies are two weeks old
before allowing them to pet them while an adult holds
the bunny (or the bunny is in the cage).
What you can expect in the weeks to come
For some really detailed information on a baby
bunny's first few weeks of life, read our page about
AlohMayla's First Babies.
In general however, at birth your bunnies will be about 4 inches long,
completely hairless, with their eyes still closed (an adaptation that
allows wild babies to live in underground burrows), and with their small
ears pressed back flat against the sides of the head. They will slowly
develop until -- at about 2 weeks old -- your bunnies will be
bright-eyed and fluffy, with bouncy legs and large, upright ears.
At about 2 to 3 weeks your babies will take a real interest in sampling
grasses and other "solid food".
The babies will continue
to nurse heavily however until they are about 4 weeks old.
They will continue nursing
from the mother until they are about 8 weeks old, during which time they
will be slowly transitioning to more and more reliance on bunny chow and veggies. At about 8 to 10 weeks old, the
mother will refuse to feed them any further and will often lose interest
in them. This is the ideal time to find suitable homes for them if you
plan to sell them or allow them to be adopted. Please resist any
temptation to part the mother from her babies prematurely. The babies
benefit greatly from the protein intake of the mother's milk, and the
mother is often deeply emotionally attached to her babies during this
At 3 to 4 months old (i.e.
12-16 weeks), your bunnies will begin to sexually mature.
At this point
you will want to separate the males from the females (a vet can help you
with determining gender). We strongly recommend neutering or spaying
your bunnies to prevent your bunny population from getting quickly out
of control. Otherwise, by the time your new bunnies are 5 to 6 months
old, you will have yet another generation on the way! Considering that
bunnies typically have anywhere from 5 to 9 babies in a litter, you
will soon be likening your home to the set of Star Trek during
the "Trouble With Tribbles" episode -- or at least your friends will!
Breeding Like Rabbits!
It Could Happen To You!)
One final note -- not only
will you have to keep un-neutered males away from females, but you will
usually have to keep them separated from each other as well. Most male
bunnies have a very strong territorial impulse and will give each other
quite a bloody beating as they work out their dominance hierarchy-- a
hierarchy which basically amounts to one male strutting freely about the
house or barn while the other spends the rest of his life cowering
Raised properly, bunnies
are sweet, curious, trusting, and intelligent little creatures -- don't
spoil your bunny's temperament and personality by subjecting him to
unnecessary brutality -- or neglect!
Take good care of your bunny
and show it plenty of loving kindness and you will receive the
attentions of a gentle, affectionate pet in return.
If you have any further
questions, feel free to drop us some
We will try to answer them as best we can. Otherwise....good luck raising
your new baby bunnies! And as with any new baby in the family, remember
to take pictures! You will be amazed at how quickly your bunnies grow and
how dramatically they change and develop.
Click the image
above to download and print
your own rabbit care guide.