There’s nothing quite as delightful as a litter of newborn baby bunnies! Their tiny paws, soft fur, and inquisitive nature capture our hearts. However, raising these fragile little kits requires specific care and knowledge to keep them healthy and happy. From preparing the ideal nesting box, to when and how to handle the babies, you’ll need to learn what’s best for their wellbeing and development at each stage. This comprehensive guide provides all the key information on caring for baby rabbits, whether you breed rabbits or end up with orphans. Follow these tips, and you’ll be prepared for the unique and rewarding experience of nurturing baby bunnies as they grow!

How to Set Up a Nesting Box for Rabbits

Setting up a proper nesting box is an important part of preparing for newborn baby bunnies. The nesting box provides a safe, comfortable place for the mother rabbit to give birth and nurse her kits. Here are some tips on how to choose and set up an appropriate nesting box:

  • Get a sturdy cardboard box around 12-14 inches high with a removable lid. The box should be large enough for the mother to move around in but small enough to feel secure. For medium-sized rabbits, aim for a box around 12×18 inches.

  • Line the bottom of the box with plenty of hay, straw, or other plant material to provide warmth and comfort. Shredded paper or fabric can also work. The nesting material should be 3-5 inches deep.

  • Place the lined nest box in the cage/hutch a few days before the expected birth to allow the mother rabbit to get accustomed to it. Observe if she starts gathering nesting material and rearrange it to her liking.

  • The box should be in a quiet, semi-secluded area of the cage away from the most active areas. Place it against the side or corner for additional privacy.

  • Once the babies are born, resist the urge to check on them too frequently. This could distress the mother and cause her to abandon the nest. Only lift the lid if necessary.

  • Remove soiled nesting material promptly to keep the babies clean and dry. Provide the mother with additional hay/fur to line the box as needed.

  • Avoid using plastics or wire flooring in the nest box, as newborn rabbits may get their legs caught. Ensure any gaps are smaller than 1⁄4 inch.

  • Keep the nesting box elevated a few inches off the cage floor and away from drafts. The kits cannot regulate their body temperature well initially.

Following these guidelines on setting up an appropriate nesting box will help ensure your newborn bunnies stay warm, safe and comfortable as they enter the world!

When Can You Handle Baby Rabbits?

Handling newborn baby rabbits requires care and caution. There are guidelines on when and how to handle kits to avoid stressing the mother bunny or causing harm to the fragile babies. Here is some guidance on when you can start handling baby bunnies:

  • Days 1-7: Avoid handling. The babies are deaf and blind at this stage and the mother will be very protective. Let her nurse and care for them without interference.

  • Day 8-14: Very limited handling. You can gently pick up kits for a quick inspection or weight check but return them to the nest immediately. The mother will still be anxious.

  • Days 15-21: Short handling sessions. As their eyes open and they become mobile, you can start acclimating the kits to human touch for 2-3 minutes at a time if the mother is comfortable. Support their bodies fully.

  • 3 Weeks+: Increased handling. At this point the kits are less fragile, can thermoregulate better, and the mother is less territorial. You can handle the babies for 5-10 minutes 1-2 times per day, interacting with them in your lap.

  • 6 Weeks+: Normal handling. The kits are now juvenile rabbits and can be handled and cuddled like adults. But continue to monitor their interactions with children or rowdy pets.

Key tips:

  • Wash hands before and after touching kits to prevent disease spread.

  • Handle gently, supporting their bodies fully. Avoid their fragile legs and backs.

  • Reunite kits with mom right after handling so she can nurse. Keep handling periods brief.

  • If mom seems distressed by handling, leave the babies alone and try again later.

  • Discourage children from poking fingers into the nest or being rough with kits.

With time and care, the babies will become accustomed to being handled, making handling safer and less stressful for all. Go slowly and let the mother's cues guide you on when handling is appropriate.

What Do You Feed Baby Rabbits?

Baby rabbits have very specific nutritional needs. Their diet progresses as they grow and leave their mother's milk. Here are some guidelines on feeding baby bunnies at different stages:

0-3 weeks: Mother's milk only. No other food or water is needed yet. The kits only consume mom's milk during this time. Don't disrupt or supplement nursing.

3-4 weeks: Introduce hay and pellets. At 3 weeks, place a handful of timothy or other grass hay into the nest box for the kits to start nibbling. High quality pellets made for juveniles can also be offered at this time.

4-7 weeks: Add vegetables. In addition to nursing, hay and pellets, starts offering some diced veggies once the kits are 4 weeks old. Good options are dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, carrot tops, parsley and cilantro. Introduce one new veggie at a time.

7-12 weeks: Decrease milk, increase solids. As the kits continue to mature, they will need less milk and more hay, pellets and vegetables. Providing fresh timothy hay should be a constant priority.

12 weeks: Transition to adult diet. By 12 weeks, baby bunnies should be completely weaned off mother’s milk and eating mostly hay, along with portions of fresh vegetables and limited pellets. Their digestive system is still developing, so introduce new foods slowly.

Avoid feeding iceberg lettuce, fruit or treats before 12-16 weeks. Never give rabbits food high in carbohydrates, sugars or dairy. Ensure they have unlimited access to clean water in a sipper bottle or heavy bowl. With a proper diet, your baby bunnies will grow up healthy and strong! Monitor their food intake and watch for signs of diarrhea, which indicates digestive upset.

Do Baby Rabbits Have Diseases?

Like any young animal, newborn baby rabbits are fragile and susceptible to certain health conditions and diseases in their first weeks of life. Here are some common illnesses to be aware of in newborn kits:

Coccidiosis – Caused by a protozoan parasite, symptoms include diarrhea, dehydration and low appetite. Transmitted through feces exposure. Treated with a coccidiostat from the vet. Keep nest box very clean.

Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) – Caused by bacteria. Signs include nasal discharge, wheezing, sneezing, eye discharge. Provide antibiotic from vet to treat. Keep area clean and avoid drafts.

Pasteurellosis – Bacterial infection that can quickly become fatal. Causes respiratory and neurological issues. Hitting maturity age around 8-12 weeks old is highest risk period. Vaccines and antibiotics from vet can help.

Diarrhea – Can arise from diet changes, intestinal issues, or serious disease. Signs include lethargy, dehydration, and wet bottom. Treat cause and provide fluids. Call vet if severe.

Splay Leg – Caused when kits can't gain traction in nest, resulting in legs splaying outwards. Splinting legs may help for mild cases caught early. Otherwise euthanasia recommended.

Always isolate any kit showing signs of illness from the healthy babies immediately. Take the kit to an exotic vet for diagnosis and proper treatment as soon as any symptoms arise. Provide supportive care such as fluids and nutritional supplements. Keep the nesting area very clean and avoid disturbing the young rabbits when possible. Protect them from drafts and introduce foods slowly. With attentive care, many diseases can be prevented or managed in baby bunnies.

How to Setup a Cage for a Baby Rabbit

Bringing home a new baby rabbit is an exciting time! Making sure you properly setup their cage and environment is key to keeping your new bunny healthy and happy. Here are some tips for establishing the ideal housing for a baby rabbit:

  • Choose an appropriately sized cage – At a minimum, the cage should be 4 times the length of the rabbit when fully grown. Babies grow rapidly so plan ahead.

  • Line the cage bottom with absorbent material – Line with paper bedding, grass mats, fleece or towel and use litter box with rabbit-safe litter. Avoid wire floors which can injure feet.

  • Include a spacious litter box – Rabbits are cleaner with enough litter space. Provide a box with hay they can nibble while doing their business.

  • Add hiding spaces – Boxes, tunnels, cardboard tubes give shy babies places to retreat and relax. Change up periodically to keep interesting.

  • Provide toys – Simple toys like willow balls, wooden chews, and tunnels promote healthy chewing and mental stimulation. Rotate new toys in regularly.

  • Keep food and water bowls secure – Use heavy ceramic bowls that cannot be tipped over easily. Elevate if needed. Refill fresh veggies and hay often.

  • Puppy pen for playtime – Let baby bunnies stretch their legs in exercise pen safely when supervised. Add tunnels, toys, dig box.

  • Bunny-proof the space – Ensure no exposed electric cords, toxic chemicals, or other dangers. Protect valuables.

  • Check temperature – Keep room around 60-70F. Position cage away from direct sun, AC vents, and drafts.

Setting up the ideal home from the start will help a baby rabbit feel secure in their new environment. Invest time bunny-proofing and watch for any signs of stress after bringing your new baby bunny home.

When Can Rabbits Leave Their Mother?

Knowing the right age to wean and separate baby rabbits from their mother is important for their health and development. Here is a guide to when baby bunnies can leave their mom:

  • 3-4 weeks old – Too young, kits still completely dependent on mother's milk. Do not separate.

  • 5-6 weeks old – Still too early, shouldn't be taken from mother yet. May struggle with eating solid food well.

  • 7-8 weeks old – Minimum recommended age, but better to wait longer. Kits still gaining independence.

  • 9-10 weeks old – Ideal age for rehoming baby rabbits, they will more easily transition away from mother.

  • 11-12 weeks old – Maximum age before hormonal behaviors may start. Monitor kits interacting, separate if needed.

Look for these signs a kit is ready to be weaned and rehomed:

  • Eating solid foods well for 1-2 weeks already
  • Consistently using litter box
  • Active, curious, and playful away from litter mates
  • Minimal nursing from mother, more independent

Separate genders at 10-12 weeks once signs of maturity arise. Always rehome baby bunnies in pairs, bonded siblings do best. Avoid rehoming around major holidays when adoption prospects are lower. Handle babies frequently so they adjust well. Weaning too early can harm health, but wait for maturity for the best transition.

Newborn Rabbit Care Without a Mother

Caring for newborn rabbits without a mother (orphaned kits) can be challenging but is possible with dedication. Here are some tips if you end up with motherless newborn bunnies:

  • Consult a vet immediately. Orphaned wild baby rabbits especially require professional guidance to survive.

  • Keep babies warm. Crucial for their survival, maintain air temperature of 90-95F. Use heating pads, microwavable discs, or incubators.

  • Bottle feed kitten milk replacer. Use kitten formula, not cow’s milk. Feed with specialized rabbit bottles. Target every 2-3 hours.

  • Encourage urination/defecation. Gently stroke genitals with cotton ball or cloth after feeding to mimic mother’s licking.

  • Keep extremely clean. Replace bedding, wash all supplies thoroughly. Their immune systems are underdeveloped. Isolate any sick bunnies.

  • Handle minimally. Only when feeding/caring for them, so they don't see you as a pseudo-mother. Return to nest right after handling.

  • Transition slowly to solid foods. Around 3-4 weeks introduce hay, pellets, veggies but continue bottle feeding as needed.

  • Provide security and comfort. Nest box, stuffed animals, and bonding with siblings help reduce stress.

  • Seek alternate caregivers if overwhelmed. Raising orphans is intense, have others assist with feedings if needed.

Orphaned newborn rabbits require round-the-clock care and high chances of complications. Always seek veterinary guidance to improve survival odds. With dedication, many orphaned kits can be nursed to health.


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