How Does a Rabbit Feed Her Babies? [Unique Feeding Method]

HomeBehaviorHow Does a Rabbit Feed Her Babies?

A mother rabbit feeds her babies by nursing them two times a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. This continues for about three weeks. After three weeks, the mother rabbit will leave her young in a nest built from fur and grass.

Have you ever wondered how baby bunnies are fed? Are they like cats or dogs, where the mom lays down to feed babies? Do baby rabbits even nurse from their mother?

Baby rabbits are just as needy as any other pet, requiring nursing from their mother until they are old enough to survive independently. However, they’re pretty different from the rest of the animal family.

How Does a Mother Rabbit Feed Her Babies?

Rabbits are unlike many animals. They do not sit to keep their babies warm. Instead, the mother rabbit creates a nest for their young.

On average, a mother rabbit will give birth to eight babies. The mother collects fur and grass to build a nest to keep her young warm and comfortable while they eat. The mother is obviously in the nest with her kits for the feeding times. However, when she is not feeding, the young are left alone in the nest.

When the mother rabbit returns, she does not lay down for the babies to drink her milk. First, she needs to ensure that she and her kits are safe. To nurse, the babies must reach upward to reach her nipples as she stands above them.

The kits nurse for approximately five to ten minutes, which is enough food for 12 -24 hours. When the babies finish, the mother leaves her kits to sleep in the nest and returns hours later, typically in the early morning, or late night, as the preferred meal time is between midnight and 5:00 AM.

What Should You Do If You Find a Rabbit’s Nest?

A rabbit’s nest consists of fur, grass, and small sticks. Typically, the kits are hidden well inside. If you ever encounter a nest, it’s best to leave it alone as the mother will return in the morning/late evening.

However, if you are unsure that the mother will return, you should return to the nest in the early morning and check on the rabbits.

When checking on the rabbits:

  • Remove the fur and grass and count the kits
  • Check for round, warm bellies
  • Weigh them each day to ensure they’re gaining weight

If they are gaining ¼ oz each day, their mother has been returning to feed them

If the rabbits lack a warm round belly and aren’t gaining weight, it’s most likely that their mother has abandoned them and they need extra care.

Only intervene if:

  • The kits are cold, wrinkled, and scattered
  • The kits have a blue tint to their skin
  • The kits are sluggish
  • The kits maintain the same weight for three or four days.
  • The kits are constantly crying

If you find a kit that has any of the characteristics above and is less than 5 inches in length, they are most likely abandoned.

How to Care For An Orphaned Rabbit

Hand-reared rabbits have a high mortality rate. The main factor is the stress of handling by humans.

However, if you have determined that the rabbits are orphaned, your first step is to build a safe and secure nest for the kits.

To create a kit, use the following materials:

  • An old shoe box with a cover
  • Fur, straw, grass, or soft objects with insulating properties
  • Warm temperature water bottle beneath a towel

Using these materials, you create a soft, warm environment where babies can survive. Place the box in a quiet, dark area. Refrain from giving them any food or water, and do not allow the temperature of their nest to exceed 65°-75°F.

Once you have completed a nest, you must immediately call a local veterinarian or wildlife rehabilitator. Caring for kits is complex and something only a licensed professional should do.

If you decide to raise the kit on your own, it is essential to consider the following.

Temperature: Maintain a temperature of 65°-75°F. You can put a heating pad under the box but check the temperature regularly.

Handling: Baby rabbits are stressed very easily when handled by humans. It is important to refrain from touching the kits more than needed. When you need to hold a kit, use cotton gloves.

Food: Baby kits should not eat or drink anything except for their mother’s milk until the kits have wide eyes and are weaned from the milk. Depending on their age, they should not drink stored milk for humans. Instead, ask a local veterinarian if they have kit replacement formula.

Once the kits are a few weeks old, you can place a bit of Alfalfa or Timothy’s Hay in the nest.

If the kit has been weaned from the milk, it is okay to feed it pellets or hay. They should have unlimited access to this throughout the day. If the kit is under eight weeks, refrain from providing leafy greens or vegetables.

How to Feed

Using gloves, place the rabbit on his back inside the nest. Then put the eyedropper in its mouth and allow the rabbit to suckle it at his own pace.

Watering: Water should not be placed in the nest until the rabbit eats solid food. Once the rabbit eats solid food, allow access to a water source and check it daily!

Extermination of Waste

Baby rabbits cannot exterminate their waste alone. Mother rabbits lick their kits to stimulate them after every feeding.

To help a kit pee or poop, you need to stimulate the area of the genitals and anus with a warm cotton ball after feeding. Stroke the cotton ball over this area until they begin to defecate or urinate. Continue this process until they finish. When kits reach eight weeks, they can go to the bathroom independently.

Rabbits Need Their Mothers, But Life Happens

The most crucial things for a baby rabbit are its mother and milk. Mother rabbits feed milk to their young twice daily, at dusk or dawn. Yet, sometimes they abandon their young or lose them. In that case, it’s best to call a licensed veterinarian to help care for the kits. It’s a challenge and commitment to feed orphaned kits, so use your best judgment if you ever find one.

Bryan Moore
Bryan Moore
I am Bryan, owner of I love all animals but find myself especially drawn to rabbits. I have been very lucky to be able to turn my passion into my profession, and I am grateful every day that I get to do what I love. It is my hope that through this website, I can help others learn more about these wonderful creatures and provide them with all the information they need to care for their own rabbit. View my Full Author Page Here

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