HELP!! Mother rabbit abandoned her babies
My momma doe had her first litter after her 3rd time being bred!! She ate half the first one when I found her, 4 left and I saw her eating another tonight and I look in her box to check on the other babies and there were only 2 instead of 4 so she ate one :( I picked her up and she is full of milk but the babies are kinda cold (not too bad) so I have them in a box getting warm in the house!! We have newborn puppies that have to be fed every 2 hours should I make momma feed the bunnies too?? Help, I never had this happen. I need to know what to do ASAP.
***** Karen Sez *****
Ugh, I'm sorry. Your doe has indeed rejected her litter, and I'm not sure the reason, whether she did not have a proper nest box and nesting materials, or if it was the presence of the dog and the puppies, or other predators she can smell, like a rat or mouse smell in a dusty nestbox, or what. Some does lack any maternal instinct whatsoever due to inbreeding, or simply the (bad) luck of the draw. Your doe might not know how to mother. What do you think the reason could be?
What to do at this point: the doe needs to be completely relieved of her kit-privileges, except for feeding. Does only feed their kits once or twice a day. But in your case, I think you could take the kits to her for feeding 2-3 times a day. Put her on her back in your lap and give each kit, one at a time, a crack at each teat. In 5-10 minutes their bellies should be round.
Alternatively, you might try placing her in the nest box with her kits. She may allow them to nurse without much prompting. A big IF, possibly. Don't let her hurt the kits while feeding them. Bottle-feeding the kits will be the only other way to preserve their lives if they cannot nurse from the doe or she seems to be threatening to harm them. Unfortunately, bottle-feeding is associated with a close-to-90% kit death rate if Benebac or cecotropes are not also administered. Do your homework.
If you can successfully fix the reason the doe failed to mother the litter, your doe might be worth giving one more chance at a litter. If you feel she isn't genetically fit as a maternal doe, then keep her as a pet or consign her to freezer camp. It really is your call.
It'd be nice if you could let us know how it goes by replying to this post. Perhaps getting the whole story will help others learn about rabbit care as well.
Best of luck.