Bunny gave birth to one kit that died

by Georgia

So my bunny finally gave birth 6 days after she started nesting. I didn't witness her giving birth until probably 30 minutes later. I checked to feed her and there I saw a baby bunny just lying still. It wasn't even on the nest. The mother is on the nest facing the wall. I guess she didn't wanna see her dead baby. :( I looked at the baby and it was really dead.

I tried to observe what went wrong and I noticed that the bottom part of the baby (legs) are a little bloody compared to the top. I'm guessing it's premature birth...the baby also looked long compared to usual. Out was about 4 inches long and it's parents are dwarf bunnies. I'm curious why the baby is long, and why did the mother give birth to only one and why would she give birth early (if premature birth is the case). Please help :(

***** Karen Sez *****
It's hard to say if the birth was premature. Did you record the breeding date and count forward 31 days to the kindling date?

By your description I'd guess any of several other problems:

Genetically modified (GMO) feed, that is, pelleted rabbit food that is high in both soy and corn, seems to raise the risk of birthing problems, including fatal defects in the kits.

Overweight doe. Extra internal fat reduces the number of kits, including to zero or one, plus increases the difficulty of the birth itself.

Full term, excessively large kit. This happens at times with dwarf breed rabbits carrying just one or two kits. All the maternal nutrition goes to one baby only (or two), and it can get too large. The other scenarios may be true in the case of your doe, but this one is most likely the cause of the dead kit. The doe was probably in labor for quite a while, but because the kit was so big, she had trouble delivering it, and it died while inside the doe. You may be lucky the doe did not die as well.

About your doe with her back to the dead baby: It is impossible to put people-thoughts into bunny-heads. Unlike humans, rabbits have no emotional attachment to their dead offspring. Your doe's instincts in the wild would have prompted her to simply abandon the burrow and go dig another one. In the wild she would be rebred already, and she would be too busy watching her back trail to worry about a dead kit.

Here's another consideration: Are you sure your doe isn't still in labor, trying to have a second very large kit, which is dead inside of her??

Now what?
Put the doe on a diet. Check the feed and switch to a healthier feed (King Feeds in CA is a breeder recommended feed). Give lots of grass hay so she won't pork out on pellets. Try rebreeding, either immediately or within a couple weeks, giving the 'diet' a chance to help her drop a few ounces. Hopefully your doe will have several kits this time, and all will go well. And, keep good records, so you'll know exactly when to put the nestbox in the cage, when the doe is due and when problems might be ensuing.

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Jul 23, 2023
Rabbit Birth
by: Anonymous

A few days ago my rabbit gave birth to only one baby, however it died during birth as it was too big :(
She is still pulling out her fur and building a nest even though there is no baby. Is this normal or should we be expecting a double pregnancy? Her belly isn’t that big and I can’t feel a baby in there but I’m unsure.
Can anybody provide me with some information about this? I would appreciate it :)

Sep 20, 2021
3 Dead Kits and 1 Living Kit 5 Days Apart
by: Anonymous

Hi, I wanted to ask because I’m confused. I’m new to this.

So my rabbit was plucking her fur last 3 weeks and I immediately separated her from the female and male rabbit (because I had no idea she was pregnant). So after a few days after I separated her, she gave birth to 3 dead kits which were stretched and long. So I kept her in the cage for a few days just to be sure that there were no more kits. After that, I put her in the same cage as the female rabbit again. After a few days in the same cage, I was shocked the next morning there was a kit which is born alive and healthy.

I’m here to ask if it’s possible that she gave birth again after almost a week? Were her first 3 kits premature and that’s why they were dead when she gave birth? Or is it possible that the other female gave birth to 1 kit? Because before all this happened, all 3 rabbits (2 females 1male) were kept in the same cage cause all this while I tried letting them mate but didn’t get them pregnant so I left them all together in one cage.

So I’m confused – whose kit is this living one? Because I put both females in the same cage after a few days the rabbit gave birth to the 3 dead kits. Now I have 1 healthy kit, which I assume is the first rabbit’s kit because this has been almost 2 weeks and she gave plenty of milk to the kit.

***** Karen Sez *****
Welp, I have no idea from way over here, but I will give you some things to think about as you do your own research.

First: Kits that are 5 days premature are clearly not fully formed. They will look premature. Did those first three kits look not quite ready to be born?

Second: It is very possible that both females were pregnant and that both gave birth. But I cannot say that is what happened. Which doe is primarily feeding the kit? Note also, that both does might be feeding the kit!

Third, and this throws a big monkey wrench into all the assumptions: Did you know that it is possible for a rabbit doe to have two pregnancies at the same time? This is because of their two-sided reproductive tract. So while both does could have been pregnant and both could have delivered a few days apart, it is also possible that the living kit and the three dead ones came from the same doe.

Okay! Now you get to do the research! Type a query into the search bar on the Raising-Rabbits website (top right corner), or use our excellent resources:

Rabbit Raising Problem Solver.
Rabbit Reproduction.

Enjoy your rabbits!

May 08, 2019
More babies
by: Maddy

I had a question: My doe after 4 failed attempts finally got pregnant and kindled last night. She had them out of the nest box so I buried the dead kits but left the nest. I kind of messed up the hair and I came back from school and it looks like she pulled more and put the original hair back. Could she kindle live kits later today or tonight?

***** Karen Sez *****

Hey Maddy, Thanks for asking. I am guessing your doe did NOT kindle any more kits?? So, Let's think this whole thing through. Your doe had 4 failed attempts, and then on the fifth, could not figure out how to kindle her kits IN the nest box? I'm thinking your doe really has no idea how to be a mum.

If you really want to raise rabbits, you need to have this doe fixed and just enjoy her as a pet. Then obtain another doe from stock that have sufficient mothering genetics. This way you'll achieve your goals, and your rabbits will know how to take care of their babies.

More details here.

Aug 24, 2018
I’ve had an identical incident!
by: Anonymous

You have described, word for word, what has happened to my doe but she’s only been free of the "fetus" for a few hours. I understand she must be tired after the painful "birth" but I am now fearful for a stuck kit or retained kit that may be the reason for her lethargy. She hasn’t really dropped her lethargic behaviour so should I be concerned??

Jun 26, 2017
Karen sez, thank you
by: Anonymous

Karen I recently had a doe with a few birthing concerns, and your response answered my questions before I needed to ask! Thank you

Apr 27, 2017
Same thing
by: Anonymous

This happened to me too, luckily i got one live kit. This was my doe's second litter and i can't figure out what went wrong. I was there during the birth and three of the four kits were definitely dead. The fourth was as healthy as could be compared to it's deceased siblings who looked very stretched and large. My original thought was her being slightly smaller for the dwarf breed however the buck she was breed to was not even a pound (he's tiny for a 3 year old bunny). I have my fingers crossed this little guy lives by himself. But this article was great, I'll have to check what is in the food that may have caused the large and stretched kits.

Apr 02, 2016
Dwarf Hotot
by: Anonymous

The same happened with my Dwarf doe. She was way past her due date, and when she gave birth to the dead kit he was also very long, and took her a long time to deliver. I re-bred her 2 days later.
Hopefully she delivers healthy kits this time.

Dec 28, 2015
Our love of bunnies!
by: Dee's Bunny Blues Rabbitry

If she is a Dwarf she should be getting a half cup of pellets a day. I have some Netherland dwarfs they are 2 - 2.5 pounds. For how much food I give a half cup pellets 16% and a fresh vegetable like a carrot with a good hand full of fresh hay once a day Pellets in am. And hay in pm. That's just how I feed mine.

I give my pregnant does and their kits 18% pellets on day 20 of pregnancy until kits are weaned at 8 weeks old.

My doe just did the same thing. She is a mini rex. Due date was Dec. 19th. She had 1 kit on the 21st; it was dead. Nothing since then... I'm planning to re-breed her on Dec. 31st.

Dec 10, 2011
Thank you so much for your help ! :)
by: Georgia

I couldn't tell when was the exact date they bred because they mate a lot..if the male flops to the side then that's the official one right?

The pellets I used is called Small World Rabbit which I get in Walmart..the doe is actually overweight probably because I supply her unlimited food and I rarely let her run around because she doesn't let me carry her out..& how much pellets and hay should I feed my bunny?

and it did take her a while to deliver the baby..i would see her just sitting on her nest for a long time and still no babies..btw since it was taking her days to give birth, I thought she was just going through false pregnancy so I tested it by putting the male bunny in her cage and she let him mate her then I took out the buck. The next day I put in the buck again and the doe just attacked him right away so I took him out. she finally gave birth after then..and i'm not sure if there is a second dead kit inside her..it's been 2 days and she hasn't taken out any kit since then...

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