Bunnies multiplying in your home? Congratulations, you've entered the world of baby rabbit care! Raising these endearing fuzzballs is a big responsibility, but hugely rewarding. As your tiny kits grow from nursing newborns to munching machines, providing proper nutrition every step of the way is paramount. But what exactly should you feed fluffy youngsters and when? How can you tell their diet is working or if something's wrong? Get ready for an in-depth guide on feeding baby rabbits for healthy growth! We'll cover the key foods for each age, signs of a good diet, troubleshooting issues, and more. With the right nutrition, you'll have a happy herd of binkying bunnies in no time. Let's dig in to the baby rabbit buffet!
What Do Baby Rabbits Eat and Drink?
Baby rabbits, also known as kits, require a specific diet to support their rapid growth and development. In the wild, mother rabbits nurse their kits until around 4 weeks of age, providing them with the nutrition they need. As kits start to wean off their mother's milk, they begin eating solid foods that mimic what they would find in nature.
When caring for domestic baby rabbits, it's important to feed them an appropriate diet for their age. Kits younger than 4 weeks should continue to nurse from their mother. If the mother rabbit is no longer present, kitten milk replacement formula is an adequate substitute. The milk should be warmed to 100-102°F before feeding. Carefully hold the kit on its back and allow it to suckle from the corner of a cloth dipped in the formula. Feed young kits every 2-3 hours.
Once baby rabbits reach 4-5 weeks of age, they can begin transitioning to solid foods. Their first foods should be soft, wet, and high in fiber and nutrients. Good options include alfalfa hay, pellets made for young rabbits, and leafy vegetables like kale, romaine lettuce, parsley, cilantro, and spring greens. Introduce new foods one at a time to watch for any digestive issues. Chop produce into small pieces to prevent choking.
Kits also need access to clean, fresh water starting at around 3-4 weeks old. Provide water in a bowl that's heavy enough not to tip over. Change the water daily. Self-watering containers are another good option. Limit sugary treats like fruits, carrots, and yogurt drops, as baby rabbits' digestive systems are still developing.
With a proper diet for their age, baby domestic rabbits will grow up healthy and strong! Monitor kits for weight gain, energy levels, and normal poop to ensure they are tolerating the foods well. Consult an exotic vet if you have any concerns.
What to Feed Pet Rabbits
Feeding pet rabbits an appropriate diet is key to keeping them healthy and happy. As grazing animals, rabbits need a diet high in grass hay, leafy greens, and vegetables to mimic what they would naturally eat. Here are some guidelines on feeding pet rabbits:
Unlimited grass hay: Timothy, orchard, oat, or brome hay should make up the bulk of a rabbit's diet. Hay is essential for healthy teeth and digestion. Provide it free-choice in a rack or bin.
Leafy greens: Feed at least 1 packed cup daily of greens like romaine, red/green leaf lettuce, kale, spring mix, cilantro, parsley, basil, mint, arugula. Introduce new veggies slowly.
Vegetables: Give 1/2-1 cup daily of veggies like carrots, bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, celery, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes. Vary the selection.
Limited pellets: 1/4-1/2 cup plain pellets per day for adult rabbits provides nutrients without excess calories. Choose a timothy-based pellet.
Occasional fruits: A few tablespoons of fruits like berries, banana, melon, apple, pear make healthy low-sugar treats a few times a week.
Unlimited clean water: Change water daily. Use a bowl, bottle, or self-watering system.
No seeds, nuts, grains, beans, dairy, meat, corn, iceberg lettuce. These can cause digestive or health issues.
Hay-based toys and treats: Offer safe chews like grass mats or compressed hay blocks.
Feed twice daily, slowly transitioning any new foods. Monitor portions to prevent obesity. Each rabbit has unique nutritional needs depending on age, size, and activity level, so consult an exotics vet if needed. With proper diet and care, pet rabbits can live 10+ years!
Baby Rabbit Feeding Guide
Caring for baby rabbits requires providing them with the right foods at each stage of growth to support development. Here is a feeding guide for baby domestic rabbits:
- Nurse from mother Rabbit multiple times a day. No other food needed.
- Continue nursing from mother.
- Introduce alfalfa hay, allowing the babies to start nibbling on it.
- Provide a shallow bowl of water. Change daily.
- If no mother, feed kitten milk replacer 2-3 times daily.
- Provide unlimited alfalfa hay.
- Introduce plain alfalfa pellets soaked in water or milk replacer.
- Gradually offer leafy greens like romaine, cilantro, kale in small amounts.
- Continue access to clean water.
- Discontinue milk if still feeding.
- Transition from alfalfa to grass hay as primary food.
- Slowly change from alfalfa to grass pellets.
- Increase leafy greens to 1 cup per 2 lbs body weight daily.
- Add 1-2 tsp veggies like carrots, bell peppers and fruit treats.
- Free feed grass hay and water.
- Unlimited grass hay and water.
- 1/4 cup pellets per 5 lbs body weight daily.
- 1 packed cup greens per 2 lbs body weight daily.
- 1/2-1 cup vegetables and occasional fruits.
Monitor baby rabbits closely when introducing new foods. Slow transitions prevent digestive upset. Weigh weekly and adjust portions as needed. By 6 months, baby rabbits can eat an adult diet to support their grown-up nutritional needs. Consult an exotic vet to ensure proper growth and health.
Baby Rabbit Food List
When raising baby rabbits, it's helpful to have a go-to list of healthy, appropriate foods to feed at each stage of growth. Here are good options for baby rabbits:
- Mother's milk
- Kitten milk replacer (if no mother)
- Alfalfa hay
- Alfalfa pellets
- Romaine lettuce
- Grass hay (timothy, oat, orchard, brome)
- Grass pellets
- Romaine lettuce
- Red/green leaf lettuce
- Spring greens
- Bell peppers
- Bok choy
- Apple (no seeds)
Avoid iceberg lettuce, beans, nuts, seeds, corn, dairy, meat, sugary fruits. Introduce one new food at a time and watch for diarrhea or decreased appetite as signs of sensitivity or intolerance. Consult an exotic vet to ensure the diet supports proper growth and health. With the right nutrition, baby bunnies will thrive!
How Can I Tell if My Baby Rabbit’s Diet is Healthy?
It's important to monitor baby rabbits closely to ensure their diet is supporting proper growth and health. Here are signs of a healthy diet in a growing bunny:
Steady weight gain: Weigh kits weekly and watch for consistent gains of 5-10 grams per day. Lack of weight gain may signal an issue.
Good energy: Look for normal activity levels and curiosity in baby rabbits. Lethargy can be a red flag.
Healthy coat: The fur should look smooth and groomed when healthy. Check for bald spots.
Bright, alert eyes: Bunnies should be observant and responsive. Discharge or crust can indicate illness.
Normal poop: Expect round, brown-black dry pellets. Irregular poops like small/wet ones or diarrhea indicate digestive upset.
Good appetite: Bunnies should eagerly eat their hay, veggies, and pellets daily. Decreased appetite is not normal.
No tooth issues: Check for overgrown or misaligned teeth, which makes eating difficult.
Minimal chewing/fur pulling: Excessive grooming behaviors signal stress or discomfort.
If your baby rabbit is meeting growth milestones, has normal poop, eager appetite, groomed fur, and energy, the diet is likely supporting health. Weigh weekly, watch for changes, and consult a rabbit-savvy vet for any concerns. With proper nutrition and care, you can raise happy, thriving bunnies!
My Baby Rabbit Eats Too Fast
It's common for baby rabbits to eat quickly and excitedly when first weaned onto solid foods. However, scarfing food too fast can lead to digestive issues. Here are tips if your baby bunny is eating too quickly:
Feed smaller, more frequent meals. This prevents overwhelming their digestive system.
Offer hay in a rack or stuffed in a toilet paper roll to slow down consumption.
Scatter greens and veggies around pen instead of pile feeding to encourage grazing.
Provide food puzzles like treat balls or snuffle mats to make bunny work for meals.
Use a wider, heavier bowl that makes pulling out mouthfuls harder.
Add clean rocks, balls, or ice cubes to bowl to block fast gulping.
Try feeding part of ration on a tile or plate so rabbit has to pick up smaller bits.
Offer compressed hay blocks for nibbling rather than loose hay.
Avoid fillers like lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers which are easy to eat fast.
Sit with baby during meals and gently pet or distract if eating voraciously.
With patience and creativity, you can slow your bundle of bunny energy down at chow time. Preventing speed eating will help ensure your rabbit grows up healthy. Consult a vet if concerns arise.
My Baby Rabbit is Not Feeding
Lack of appetite in baby rabbits is not normal and requires prompt attention. Here are some possible reasons and solutions if your baby bunny is not eating:
Illness: Get a vet exam to check for issues like gastrointestinal stasis, parasites, infection, kidney disease. Treatment may be needed.
Pain: Check for signs of injury, inflammation, or teeth problems causing discomfort and inability to eat.
Stress: Baby rabbits are sensitive. Loud environments, rough handling, or loneliness can cause them to go off food. Modify factors causing anxiety.
Too many diet changes: Introduce new foods gradually to avoid upsetting digestive system. Revert to previous diet.
Overheating: Get rectal temperature and move bunny to a cooler area if over 103°F. Offer frozen water bottles.
Dehydration: Check skin elasticity and hydrate with subcutaneous fluids if needed. Offer fresh herbs with high water content.
Depression: Lack of appetite after losing a bonded mate is common. Offer favorite foods and increase comforting attention.
Improper diet: Ensure you are feeding appropriate foods for baby rabbit’s age. Correct diet if needed.
Foreign object: Check for oral blockage making eating impossible. Don’t force feed.
A baby rabbit not eating is an emergency. Seek exotic vet care right away if appetite does not improve swiftly with supportive care at home. Nutrition is vital for growing bunnies. With quick intervention, your fuzzy friend will be munching happily again.
Alternative Food for Baby Rabbits
Although mother’s milk or kitten formula are best for the first weeks, baby rabbits can be fed alternative diets if those are not available. Some healthy supplemental or replacement foods include:
Goat milk – Dilute with water with approximate 4:1 ratio. Warm to 100°F before feeding with kitten bottle/syringe.
Mealworms – High in protein and readily accepted. Grind before mixing into formula for young kits or offer whole to rabbits over 8 weeks.
Oxbow Critical Care – Herbivore recovery food can be mixed into slurry and syringe fed if needed.
Zoologic Milk Matrix – Powdered rabbit milk supplement to blend with water if doe’s milk not available.
Vegetable baby foods – Pureed carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, peas, and greens are soft enough for weaning bunnies.
Pelleted feed – Grind an alfalfa-based pellet and mix into formula or water. Dampen for older kits.
Egg – Scrambled egg yolk or hard boiled egg can provide nutrients if needed. Mash well and mix with water.
Hay slurry – Grind timothy hay and blend into a mush to supplement older kits not eating solids well.
Always aim for commercial milk replacers or mother’s milk first for orphaned young rabbits. But in a pinch, healthy alternatives like goat milk, ground pellets, vegetables, and mealworms can help sustain bunnies until old enough to transition to solid foods. Consult an exotic vet for guidance. With the right care and diet, baby rabbits will thrive.