There is a reason for weaning worries when weaning young bunny rabbits or purchasing them. Rabbits age 3 weeks to 10 weeks are at an elevated risk for bunny diarrhea which can be fatal. It just so happens that weaning falls in this time period.
It is tempting, then, to assume that weaning causes bunnies to die of diarrhea. But not so – it is the stress at weaning which, if not handled wisely, can upset the bunny's digestive processes and result in a bunny’s death. And since death from diarrhea can strike at any age, including before weaning and throughout adulthood, I wanted to help you set the record straight as regards bunny weaning worries.
We discovered the following misguided Craigslist post aimed at both bunny buyers and bunny sellers, which linked to Raising-Rabbits as though we supported their argument:
(The post has since been removed, but in case it returns with a different posting number, we thought it best to leave this info here for now.)
Why should we care about a confused post on Craigslist?
Because the opinions of the poster seem to be widespread across the worldwide web, and because Raising-Rabbits exists to help present the truth about raising rabbits.
Here is the content of the post:
"ANYONE INTERESTED IN PURCHASING BABY BUNNY'S [sic]:
"Please, PLEASE! Be sure to ask the age! Bunny's [sic] sold before the age of 6 weeks will usually die due to lack of milk and their body not processing food (they get diarrhea) also called Enteritis. Do your research (http://www.raising-rabbits.com/rabbit-diarrhea.html) before buying a bunny and watching it suffer until death. An honest rabbitry will not knowingly sell a rabbit before 8 weeks of age because does not have a good chance of survival. Once a rabbit gets Diarrhea it is hard to save and usually considered gone. There is a reason for a weaning age! IT IS THE LAW a bunny is NOT sold before 8 weeks of age!!!
"I have seen bunny rabbits before the age of 8 weeks all over Craigslist lately. Just because someone says they are weaned does not mean they are of correct age! Many will selfishly sell rabbits before weaning age because they are "CUTE" at that age and sell quickly but only to doom them for death in the end. Even at 8 weeks some bunnies are not ready to be weaned. Look for diarrhea on the bottom to see if bunny's (sic) are truly ready to be weaned."
I certainly sympathize with the person who
wrote this. Problem is: the post is
nowhere near accurate.
At right: This 5-week-old kit shows the remnants of a mild bunny diarrhea. It was not weaned at the time. This kit never showed any other signs of illness and never experienced any loose stools later.
It is impractical to lay down dogmatic rules about when you can and cannot wean and/or sell baby rabbits.
It is far better to understand exactly WHY a rabbit might get diarrhea after weaning and to prevent it as much as is possible through excellent husbandry practices.
The point is not to see how early one can wean, but to identify the biological realities of weaning rabbits in order to establish best practices and to allay any unfounded weaning worries.