Info on Rabbits and Bunnies: This rabbit information FAQ page answers questions about pregnant rabbits, rabbits giving birth, and taking care of bunnies.
Q: Babies: "Are you allowed to pick up the baby rabbits from the litter?"
A: Are you the one taking care of the mother and babies? Then yes, picking up the babies to check that they’re doing well is fine. You need to check the babies and their nest once a day to make sure everything is clean and okay. If you check them over and over every day and also play with them, you wouldn't want the mother to get fed up with you and begin to threaten you. So, check the babies once a day, and wait to "play" with them until they come out of the nest box at the earliest.
Q: Birth: "What comes out at a rabbit
A: A baby rabbit comes out. It is wrapped in a
membrane and a lot of liquid. After the baby is born the placenta comes out.
The placenta is also known as the after-birth. The mom cleans everything up by
licking the baby clean, eating the membranes and the placenta. This might sound
gross, but it is normal, and helps to tell her body to make lots of milk for
the bunnies. See Rabbits
Giving Birth for more info on rabbits and bunnies.
Q: Bunnies: "How are baby rabbits made?"
A: The doe (mama rabbit) makes an egg, which
combines with the sire’s (father rabbit’s) sperm. The sire puts the sperm in
the doe by mating. When the egg and sperm join together, that is the beginning
of the baby rabbit. It takes just 31 days for the baby rabbit to grow inside
the doe and then get born. More info on rabbits and bunnies and breeding - Rabbit
Q: Bunnies: "How soon after bunnies are born can you change a rabbit’s drip tray?"
A: It is usually okay to maintain your normal
routine around the rabbits, unless the doe is very nervous and very skittish.
With my does which are used to me, I would be comfortable changing the rabbit’s
drip tray on the day of kindling (birth). You’ll have to be the judge, however,
because you know your own rabbits.
Q: Bunnies: "How to get prepared for a litter of baby rabbits?"
A: The most important preparation is keeping records. Make a note of when the doe was bred. Mark the calendar 28 days later for putting the nest box in the cage. Mark the 31st day because this is the date the doe will likely kindle (give birth).
About preparing the nest box, palpating the doe, feeding the
doe, and other info on rabbits and bunnies, please go to Breeding
Rabbits and follow the links as necessary.
Q: Bunnies: "Our mother rabbit had 15 babies..."
A: That’s a lot of babies, and it happens quite a
bit, especially in larger meat rabbit breeds. Unfortunately, unless you have a
fabulous milking doe, the kits might not all survive. (Those does exist, but...) In our
rabbitry, we usually try to foster kits to other does. If that’s not possible,
then we wait a couple days to see which kits are not able to fight for a teat.
The weaker, unthrifty kits are the ones we cull. A large litter like this
usually ends up with at most 11 or 12 kits. I hope your doe happens to be one of the
Q: Bunnies: "Our doe has two-bunny litters..."
A: Yes, this is the flip-side - tiny litters. The
immediate concern is keeping the kits warm. Two kits keep themselves warm
better than singletons, but 3 kits per litter is usually preferred. The next concern, if the doe repeatedly has tiny
litters is: is she old? Does she have any underlying health problems such as a
retained fetus from a prior litter or immune-draining disease such as
asymptomatic snuffles? The answers will help you know how you proceed.
Q: Food: "When do baby rabbits start eating rabbit food?"
A: Baby rabbits start nibbling on straw or hay
just as soon as their eyes are open, at around 10 days old. The bunnies also nibble on the doe’s fecal pellets and cecotropes in the nest box which deliver correct bacteria
to their guts.
At around 14 days old we remove the nest box. The bunnies
are still sleeping a lot, however they soon locate the pellet feeder and begin
eating rabbit pellets, typically within a few days, or 2 1/2 weeks of age.
Q: "How old do rabbits have to be to have babies?"
Info on Rabbits Answer: The answer to your
question depends on the breed of rabbit. Very large breeds tend to mature
later, and the dwarf breeds tend to mature earlier. A good middle-of-the-road rule of thumb is
about 6 months, however don’t think that male rabbits can’t make babies before
this age. Bunnies have been known to breed before 4 months of age (it is
probably not good for them to breed this early), so breeders separate litter
mates before they reach 3 months of age.
Q: Nest Box: "Do my baby rabbits need a nest box?"
A: Yes, probably, and certainly if you are using a wire-bottom cage. In hutches with a solid bedroom area, nesting boxes are still advantageous, as they confine the litter in a warm nest and prevent them from wandering away, getting lost, and then chilling to death. Nest boxes save bunny lives.
Go to Rabbit Nest Box for more info.
Q: Peanuts: "Can peanut rabbits live?"
A: No, sorry - the ‘peanut’ is a very tiny rabbit
that has inherited two copies of a dwarfing gene. The two-gene combination
is 100% fatal. The peanuts are born dead, usually, but a few live a couple
days, and even fewer live a couple weeks. See Dwarf
Rabbits for info on rabbits and bunnies that carry the
Q: Pregnant: "How do you know if a rabbit is about to give birth?"
A: There are a few ways - see Pregnant Rabbit.
What to do? If you think there’s any chance that your rabbit
is pregnant, get it a rabbit
Q: Pregnant: "How does one care for a pregnant meat breed rabbit?"
A: For the first two weeks, there is no need to
change the care you are already giving. 10 - 14 days after breeding is when you can palpate your doe to see if you can detect little kits. Once a pregnancy is confirmed, slowly increase the doe's feed until she is nearly free-fed. Check our Rabbit
Breeding page which links to info regarding each of the stages of rabbit reproduction.
Seems like there's always another angle of info on rabbits and bunnies that can be considered.
See the questions and comments below.
Or, see our book, Rabbit Raising Problem Solver for 301 pages of questions and answers.
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
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My Netherland Dwarf gave birth 2 weeks ago and is pregnant again! HELP!
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How to teach rabbits to drink from a water bottle?
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How can I get my pregnant doe to trust me?
We just bought two rabbits, a young buck and a year-old doe. Since the breeder didn't have a mature buck for us, he went ahead and bred the doe with one …
Nesting Box Not rated yet
The hutch that my bunny is in has a nesting box built on the side, my bunny stays in it a lot of the time, is this okay or should I close it off until …
2 Litters of different ages in same breeding box Not rated yet
I have a doe who gave birth to 5 healthy bunnies about 10 days ago and unbeknownst to us the other female in the hutch was pregnant too. She gave birth …
Lionhead Manes Not rated yet
Mane retention is one of the biggest challenges of Lionhead breeding! What are some of the signs that a kit will have a wonderful mane? Those that seem …
Rabbit conception ages? Not rated yet
I read somewhere that if my female rabbit does not have sex before she reaches 4 months old she can get urinary cancer?? But I also read that if she gets …
Dying Babies/Bad mother? Not rated yet
I have owned around ten bunnies in my life, and have always loved having rabbits around! I began trying to breed with a single maned Lionhead doe and a …
Many Thanks, and Fostering Question Not rated yet
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Caging Bunnies Together Not rated yet
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Help!! Not sure if the rabbit is the litter's mother? Not rated yet
Two weeks ago my Rabbit gave birth to a litter of 3, which was a surprise as we didn't expect either of our does to be pregnant. Firstly both of our does …
Doe is rejecting the nesting box Not rated yet
I had no idea that my Netherland Dwarf was pregnant until I found babies in her cage this morning. I didn't have a nesting box in there so I quickly made …
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My doe has given birth to 6 babies. We unknowingly removed the babies and kept them in a tiny cardboard box. The doe is not ready to give milk or it is …
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