Rabbits feed their offspring by producing milk. Upon birth, baby rabbits nurse from their mother and consume their mothers’ milk. Rabbits do not lie down to feed their young. Instead, the babies lie on their backs while the mother rabbit stands over the nest.
A mother rabbit will often nurse her young several times daily to ensure they are getting enough sustenance. Nursing typically lasts around 10 minutes per session, during which the mother will stand on her haunches and allow her offspring to feed from her teats.
Solid foods like hay and pellets are introduced slowly into the diet as the babies grow. Still, nursing will continue until they are around 8 weeks old. After that, they are fully grown and able to fend for themselves.
Interestingly, male rabbits (bucks) do not usually participate in caring for the young, except in very rare cases. The responsibility falls almost entirely on the mother (doe).
What You'll Learn
- 1 The Importance of Mothers Milk
- 2 Mother Rabbits Stand When Feeding Her Offspring
- 3 How Often Do Rabbits Feed Their Babies?
- 4 How Long Does Nursing Last?
- 5 How Much Milk Do Rabbits Drink Each Session?
- 6 How Do Mother Rabbits Know When Their Babies Are Hungry?
- 7 Do Mother Rabbits Help Their Babies Eat After They Are Weaned?
The Importance of Mothers Milk
Like most mammals, a mother rabbit will feed her baby through milk produced by the mammary glands. After the babies are born, the mother will clean them off, and then the babies will begin nursing.
Rabbit milk is much different than other mammals. It contains all the nutrients baby rabbits need to grow healthy and strong.
High in Protein and Fat
Rabbit milk is very high in both protein and fat. The high protein content also helps the baby rabbits develop strong muscles and bones. The high fat content helps stimulate hormone production and increases much-needed calories.
Rich in Antibodies
Rabbit milk is also rich in antibodies. This helps the baby rabbits build their immune system and protects them from diseases.
The antibodies in rabbit milk also help the baby rabbits digest their food correctly.
Calcium, Phosphorus, and Magnesium
Rabbit milk is also high in calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. These minerals are essential for developing strong bones and their ever-growing teeth.
Mother Rabbits Stand When Feeding Her Offspring
The mother rabbit will stand on her legs and allow the baby rabbits to feed from her teats. The baby rabbits will lie on their backs while they nurse.
This might seem like an odd way to nurse, but it offers a few key advantages to both the mother and the babies.
Standing Makes it Easier to Protect From Predators
The mother rabbit can keep an eye out for predators while the babies are nursing. If she senses danger, she can quickly take action.
Keeps The Babies Warm
By nursing in a standing position, the mother rabbit can help keep the babies warm with her body heat. This is especially important in cool weather or if the nest is in a drafty area.
Easier For The Babies to Latch
It can be challenging for baby rabbits to latch onto the teats if the mother is lying down. By nursing in a standing position, the mother rabbit makes it easier for the babies to latch on and get the sustenance they need.
How Often Do Rabbits Feed Their Babies?
Rabbits typically nurse their young twice daily, every 12 hours or so. However, they will nurse more frequently if the babies are very young or if the weather is cold.
It’s also not uncommon for rabbits to feed once per day, especially if they have a big litter.
How Long Does Nursing Last?
Each nursing session typically lasts around 10 minutes. However, it is not uncommon for the mother rabbit to nurse for longer periods, especially if the babies seem more hungry than usual.
How Much Milk Do Rabbits Drink Each Session?
It is estimated that baby rabbits drink around 5-7 ml of milk per session. However, this depends on the age of the bunny. Newborn bunnies drink much less milk, about 2 ml per session.
How Do Mother Rabbits Know When Their Babies Are Hungry?
Baby rabbits will typically make a soft grunting noise when they are hungry. This noise is called a ‘pant.’ The mother rabbit will usually respond to this noise by coming to the nest and beginning the nursing process.
If baby rabbits do not get enough to eat, they will cry. This crying noise is very loud and can be quite alarming to hear.
If you hear a baby rabbit crying, it is important to check on the rabbit and ensure it is getting enough to eat. If not, you will need to supplement the diet with formula or solid food (if they are of the appropriate age).
Do Mother Rabbits Help Their Babies Eat After They Are Weaned?
Mother rabbits do not help their babies eat after they are weaned. Once the baby rabbits are old enough to eat solid food, they are on their own.