Just what exactly should you do with a baby rabbit? If you found a nest with baby rabbits, should you pick them up and take them home? And what if the mommy rabbit died and now you have whole fluff of pet baby bunnies?
If you find a wild baby rabbit in your yard or in the wild, it’s best to leave it be. Chances are mommy rabbit is nearby and the kit isn’t abandoned. Alternatively, contact a wildlife rehabilitator. When you have pet baby rabbits, you need to look after them with a soft and warm nesting box, nutritious milk, and more.
This guide teaches you what you need to do if you find a nest of wild baby rabbits and also how you need to take care of pet bunnies if the doe has passed.
Let’s get into it so you are prepared for either scenario.
Can a Baby Rabbit Survive on Its Own?
Baby rabbits (called kits) can’t survive on their own. Unlike baby hares, they are born without fur, blind, and totally dependent on their mom (the doe) for nourishment.
Wild Baby Rabbits
But just because kits aren’t independent to survive on their own, doesn’t mean you need to think you are rescuing the baby bunny if you found them in the wild.
Wild baby rabbits should be left where you found them. Taking them home and thinking you can care for a wild rabbit does more harm than good, and there are moral and ethical considerations too.
Most often, a wild baby rabbit isn’t abandoned just because the doe isn’t nearby. The doe is off looking for food and she comes to the kits twice a day to feed them.
Plus, the doe knows that if she stays with the kits, she is attracting predators. So to keep her babies safe, she stays away and only goes to them when they need to drink milk from her.
If you really, really do need to help the wild kits, the best course of action is to take the bunny to a rabbit vet or call your local wildlife rehabilitator.
Domestic Baby Rabbit
Domestic baby bunnies are a different story.
If the doe doesn’t care for the baby rabbits, you need to separate the kits from the doe so she can’t hurt them.
And if the doe can’t care for them because she’s sick or dead, you need to take care of the kits.
But how do you care for baby rabbits and ensure they thrive?
How Do You Keep Baby Rabbits Alive?
Keeping a domestic baby rabbit alive means looking after its needs.
A baby bunny needs:
- A warm place to sleep
- Love and attention
- Nutritious milk
- A quiet area
How to Take Care of Baby Rabbits
Follow these tips when taking care of a pet baby rabbit:
Warmth and Quiet
Place the baby rabbits in a soft nesting box with soft, clean towels.
It’s best to fold a towel and place it at the bottom of the box. Get another towel or two, bunch it up, and place it on top of the folded towel. The baby bun can now snuggle into the towel for warmth and comfort.
Place another light towel over the box, but ensure to leave at least an inch gap so the babies can breathe.
You should put the nesting box somewhere quiet and out of the way.
If the temperature in the room where you are keeping the kits is below 68℉, add extra warmth in the form of a heating pad that’s set on low.
The heating pad should be placed underneath half of the nesting box so the other half is cooler if the kit wants to move there.
For the first few weeks of the baby bunny’s life, milk is the only food source they need.
Nothing quite matches a doe’s milk for her kits, so try to find a nursing doe to feed your baby bunny.
If that isn’t an option, you can use goat milk or kitten milk replacer (KMR).
A rabbit’s milk is very high in calories, and babies need this. So it’s recommended to add one tablespoon of 100% (no extra sugar added) heavy whipping cream to a can of KMR.
Use a small oral syringe or a syringe with a nipple end to feed the kits.
You need to feed the kit twice a day – early in the morning (dawn) and early in the evening (dusk).
Based on a medium-sized rabbit that will weigh between five and six pounds when it’s an adult, here’s how much milk to give the baby rabbit a day (divide the quantity into two for two feedings):
- 4-5 cc for a newborn kit (Week 1)
- 10-15 cc (Week 2)
- 15-30 cc (Weeks 3 to 4)
- 30 cc until the baby is weaned (Weeks 5 to 8)
Make sure the kit eats at its own pace; it can suffocate if you squirt too much milk into its mouth.
Emulate the Mother Rabbit
A doe will lick their offspring to stimulate them to do number 1 and number 2. You need to replicate this behavior.
A kit needs to urinate and defecate after every feeding. So after you’ve fed the bunny, moisten a cotton ball or soft cloth with warm water and gently stroke the baby’s genital area until you see urine and poop.
Actually, you need to stroke until the baby stops pooping and urinating. And you need to do this after every feeding for the first few weeks of the baby rabbit’s life.
Things to Consider When Taking Care of Baby Rabbits
When you are taking care of pet baby rabbits, keep the following in mind:
- Just like with a newborn human baby, you also need to consider the needs of baby bunnies. Are they cold? Are they dehydrated? Are they hungry? Are they healthy?
A healthy kit will have a round belly, feel warm to the touch, put on a healthy amount of weight every day, and snuggle with its siblings.
- If the baby rabbit shows any signs of illness, you need to contact your local rabbit vet for an emergency appointment.
- Ensure the baby rabbits are kept in a quiet and warm area where they won’t be disturbed by adults or children.
- Make the nesting box comfortable.
My Last Bunny Thoughts
If you find baby bunnies in the wild, it is best to leave them be – no matter how much this breaks your heart.
Wild rabbits aren’t meant to be kept as pets and they don’t have the same temperaments, diet, and needs as domestic rabbits, making life in captivity grossly unfair to them.
If you find a baby rabbit in your yard, call the professionals – a vet and wildlife rehabilitator.
Domestic or pet baby rabbits, however, should be loved and looked after if their mother rabbit (the doe) can’t or won’t look after them.
You need to:
- Create a warm and comfortable nest for the baby rabbit
- Carefully and slowly feed the kit with a hygienic syringe
- Make sure the rabbit “does it business” by teaching (aka stimulating) it to poo and pee