Info on Rabbits and Bunnies

Info on Rabbits and Bunnies:
This rabbit information FAQ page answers questions about pregnant rabbits, rabbits giving birth, and taking care of bunnies.

Frequently Asked Questions and Info on Rabbits and Bunnies

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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 for you. 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 are 2-3 weeks old and out of the nest box. 

Teen girl with pet gray rabbit

Q: Birth: "What comes out at a rabbit birth?"

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 Mating.

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.

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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.

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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 do exist.)  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. We keep an eye out for weaker, unthrifty kits with failure to thrive and try to remove these before they die in the nest and begin to rot. 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 super-milkers.

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, unless she is a dwarf rabbit, 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.

16 day old castor rex show rabbit

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. 

Excellent Nutrition for Both Does and Growing Kits

Pregnant and lactating does need optimal nutrition for the sake of their newborns, and so do the growing kits as they are weaned to solid feeds. The following links take you to the best pelleted rabbit feed that Karen has found...

--Sherwood Pet Health Pelleted Bunny Feed 10 Pounds
--Sherwood Pet Health Pelleted Adult Rabbit Feed 10 Pounds

(Click the above links to view these Sherwood Pet Health Rabbit Feeds on Amazon, and to research additional feed choices.)

4-week-old Chinchilla and broken chin rex bunnies.

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, unfortunately. The ‘peanut’ is a very tiny rabbit that has inherited two copies of a dwarfing gene. The two-gene combination is always 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 dwarf gene.

Q: Pregnant: "How do you know if a rabbit is about to give birth?"

A: There are a few ways - see Pregnant Rabbit.

  • If your rabbit has been scratching in the corners of its cage
  • If it tries to cram lots of hay in its mouth and then carries the hay around
  • If you know it was around a male rabbit about 31 days prior
  • If it has lost its waistline
  • If it’s been more cranky than usual, or is running away from you uncharacteristically
  • If it doesn’t seem to be eating quite as much (the tummy has more pressure in it due to growing babies)

What to do? If you think there’s any chance that your rabbit is pregnant, prepare it a nesting box.

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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 our book, Rabbit Raising Problem Solver, for 301 pages of questions and answers.

Rabbit Raising Problem Solver book cover.

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Raising rabbits? Consider a membership to the American Rabbit Breeders Association

Questions and comments from other visitors

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Will the mother rabbit eat any dead kits? Can two female rabbits be in the same cage when one gives birth?  
We have just acquired two female rabbits. One we knew she was going to give birth this weekend. We have had them for one week. I have two cages that …

Rabbit Runaways and Escapees 
Our family have rescued 2 grown rabbits, who I believe to be a male and female. We are housing them in a large guest bathroom until we are able to construct …

Maximum breeding age 
I have a doe that is approx. 18 months old and has never been bred. Is she too old to breed? ** ** No, not too old. The question is: is the …

Nursing Doe in GI Stasis 
Good morning, My English Lop doe suddenly stopped eating and passing feces, I am administering GI meds and giving sub q fluid therapy but her babies are …

Separating a bonded pair 
We've had 2 females and a male living happily together since we brought them in at 8 weeks old. They are Lionhead and Netherland Dwarf. At 6 months old …

Two does, how will they get along after babies? 
I have a bonded pair but they are both does. Actually they are from the same litter. We want to breed one of them, cuz I don't know if we can handle breeding …

Can rabbits breed through a chainlink fence? 
This may seem like a silly question, but I was wondering if it's possible for rabbits to breed through a chainlink fence... ie: the male is on one side, …

Does Rabbit Breeding Age Matter? 
When waiting to breed a virgin doe does age matter? So, would a virgin 9 month old have a better or worse chance than a 7 month old? Thanks I love your …

Two Normal Litters... When will they arrive? 
My bunny gave birth seven and a half weeks ago, and since four weeks after she delivered I can feel more little lumps under her tummy (no, not teats) that …

Mating Siblings 
It may be a dumb question, but, can you mate siblings with each other? *Moderator's Response:* No, this is definitely not a dumb question, as the rabbit …

My Netherland Dwarf gave birth 2 weeks ago and is pregnant again! HELP! 
My Netherland Dwarf Doe gave birth 2 weeks ago to 5 kits. However she has been with our male on the day she gave birth and we now are pretty sure she is …

How to teach rabbits to drink from a water bottle? 
Why won't my rabbits drink from their water bottle? They will only drink from dishes. I made their bottles drip into their dishes for a day, then took …

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
We are raising rabbits for meat. We have 1 buck and 4 doe New Zealand rabbits. They came of age in January to breed (8 months) but we waited until spring …

Caging Bunnies Together Not rated yet
Will boy bunnies fight if you cage 2 boys together with a girl? I have an additional question about Baby Bunnies. When do you separate momma and baby …

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 …

Doe not eating or lactating well Not rated yet
Rabbits are very smart, especially bunnies. But I am having problem in rabbit which is not eating well and not feeding milk well to bunnies. Rabbits …

Food for abandoned baby rabbit Not rated yet
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 …

(The ability to post your questions to this page, Info on Rabbits and Bunnies, has been temporarily suspended, however you can still comment on any of the posts above.)

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