Baby Domestic Rabbits
Baby rabbits should not be removed from their mother until at least 8 weeks in order to develop a proper digestive and immune system from their mother's milk and cecals. If you bought a rabbit that still needs to be fed milk, be warned that your rabbit will not have a high chance of survival. Do not purchase any rabbits under 8 weeks of age from a pet store or breeder.
The links below include information about the appearance of baby rabbits as they grow.
- Tru-Luv Rabbitry, How Should A 8 Weeks Old Look Like
- Backyard Bunnies, Kit Development
- Miriam's Bunnies, Day by Day Growth of Newborn Bunnies
- The Nature Trail, Holland Lop Litters of Babies! Stories and Pictures
- Rabbits-Online.co.uk, Rabbits Growing Up
See Taking Care of a Pregnant Rabbit and Her Litter for more information.
Below are some useful resources on the care of baby rabbits:
- House Rabbit Society, Newborn Baby Bunny Facts
Baby rabbits should not be completely weaned from their mothers and sold until 8 weeks of age. Babies removed earlier have a high risk of developing enteritis, which is easily fatal in a young rabbit.
Below are links with more information about the process and age of weaning.
- Rabbit Welfare Australia, Warning to Rabbit Adopters
- American Rabbit Breeders Association, When can I sell or wean my rabbits?
- Nature Trail, Weaning Baby Rabbit Kits
- Golden Pines Rabbitry, Weaning young rabbits
- MediRabbit, Esther van Praag, Ph.D., E.coli and the protective role of Lactobacillus casi in newborn rabbits
Rabbit kits may need to be hand-reared in case of maternal death or mismothering or lactational failure of the doe. Does with a new litter may take 24 hours to start lactation. Mismothering can be diagnosed if the kits have not been fed for 48 hours. Unfed kits will have thin abdomens and wrinkled skin due to dehydration.
Kits under 7 days old should be kept at 27-30°C (80.6-86.0°F). A incubator, heated cage, or airing cupboard can be used to house the babies. The kits should be placed in a box lined with hay, maternal fur if available, or soft cloths and fleece. The temperature can be lowered after seven days if the kits are thriving.
The most common causes of failure and death when hand-rearing rabbits are aspiration pneumonia due to inhalation of milk into the lungs, and diarrhea due to the failure to establish a normal gut flora. Death at around four weeks of age are also common due to intestinal Escherichia coli overgrowth.
The following links contain more information on how to properly care for orphaned baby rabbits.
- House Rabbit Society, Sandi Koi, Domestic Baby Bunnies and Their Mom > Feeding Orphaned Baby Rabbits
- Dana Krempels, Ph.D., Care and Feeding of Orphaned Domestic Rabbits
- House Rabbit Society, Caring for Orphans
- Zooh Corner, How to Care for Newborn Baby Rabbits
- House Rabbit Society, FAQ: Orphaned Baby Bunnies > The Bunny is Domestic (NOT WILD) and Really Orphaned - How do I care for it?
- The German Angora Information Pages, Raising Orphaned Domestic Angora Rabbit Kits
Sexing young rabbits is very difficult, but here are some guides, some with pictures, on how to properly sex your rabbit. Refer to your rabbit-savvy veterinarian for the final judgement of your rabbit's sex.
- House Rabbit Network, How to Sex Your Rabbits
- Pet Informed, Veterinary Advice Online - Sexing Rabbits (Rabbit Gender Determination).
- peteducation.com, Holly Nash, DVM, MS, Sexing Rabbits
- Dana Krempels, Ph.D., How Can I Determine My Rabbit's Sex?
- Earth's Kids, How to Check the Gender of your Rabbit
The following are pages from rabbit breeder sites. As we constantly remind, we do not condone rabbit breeding for the common owner, and these have been linked for information purposes only.
- Debmark Rabbit Education Resource, Sexing Rabbits
- Rudolph's Rabbit Ranch, Brief Photographic Essay on Sexing Young Rabbits
- Deciding on a Rabbit
- Getting Started
- Pregnant Rabbits
- Spaying and Neutering
- Understanding Your Rabbit
- Wild Rabbits