If you’re a fan of cute rabbits, bunnies, hares, all things furry. You may be shocked by the name of a baby rabbit. To cut straight to it, Baby Rabbits are called kittens (or kits), much like it’s cat-like equivalent.
This means a group of kittens is called a nest of kittens, a litter or a colony of kittens. Some people refer to them as a warren, however, this is more commonly referred to when talking about where rabbits live.
How to care for a Newborn rabbit
If you’ve got a pregnant doe, you should be prepared for their birth by creating a nesting area. This should be a small boxed area where your doe can mix her fur with hay to create a warn and clean birthing area.
Your doe may create a nest themselves, they will pull hay into a box and shed fur during this time.
What do I do when the kits are born?
The pregnancy for your doe can last around a month, from 31 to 33 days. You should leave your doe to perform the birthing process on her own, there should be no need to assist her as she will be very independent.
Every morning, you should check the nesting area for a new litter of kits, if there are any kits who didn’t survive, we highly suggest removing these after taking the mother away from the nest.
As a side note, you should also remove the placenta & any afterbirth.
If there are more than 8 kittens, you should contact your veterinary practice, this is becaus they may be too many kits for the mother to handle and this can lead to abandoning the litter.
During this process, you may need to hand feed the abandoned kittens, but these attempts are usually unsuccessful.
Once the kits are born, you should be safe to handle them as the mother will be familiar with your scent. However, you should make sure the environment is suitable.
Keep the temperature in that room at around 15°C (59°F), if the room is particularly cold or the kits feel cold you can use a hot water bottle (with warm water, not hot water) or even better a heating pad that’s been left to cool down a bit.
Once the kits are born, the mother will need constant access to fresh food and water. Change the water every few hours (preferably using a bowl), this will allow the mother to consistently provide fresh milk to feed the litter.
Side Note: It’s not unheard of for a doe to eat her kits should she not be receiving nutrition
My Doe isn’t nursing her kits
Your doe won’t always want to nurse her kits, like any mother she will want time away from her babies. As long as your kits have round tummies and are nice and warm, they should be fine.
Typically, if your kits are still making lots of noise, they require nursing. If they are making lots of noise and it’s been 8-12 hours, call your local veterinary practice.
Signs your kits need medical attention
Whilst you can handle the babies, try to do this as little as possible. You can handle the kits when you’re concerned for their well-being, as such you should look out for these signs:
- Babies are weak and do not respond when handled.
- Their tummies aren’t full and have sunk in
- Their skin isn’t smooth and is very wrinkly (This is Dehydration)
If your doe is pulling up fur but not feeding your kittens, there may be a chance they require oxytocin. Your veterinary can help with this as this will help with milk production.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should we let mamma rabbit out of the cage for a break away from the babies?
Yes, it’s perfectly fine to let the mother do her own thing. As long as she’s feeding her litter and occasionally looking after them, there are no problems.
As long as the mother can come back, she’s fine to leave them for a few hours at a time.
Should I hand-rear baby rabbits if the mother ignores them?
If you can, leave the parenting the the mother, she will only feed her babies twice a day and can often leave for hours at a time. This doesn’t mean they are abandoned, it simply means she’s busy exploring elsewhere.
When is the best time to start training your baby rabbits to use the litter box?
Your kits will likely not learn how to use a litter box, purely because their attention span is too small. As they are very young, they will likely use the corner of their hutch / cage, so if possible, place a small toilet there for them.
Is it possible to revive a dead baby rabbit?
Unfortunately, this is near impossible. You will be unable to revive a dead kit.
How often should I feed a baby rabbit?
A kit will need only its mother’s milk, at around 2 weeks of age you may introduce pellets and alfalfa hay to their diet. Do not try and force this onto your litter as they will still need nurturing and milk for around 8 weeks.