It is a difficult task to feed newborn domestic rabbits by yourself. However, you can make it an easy and fun activity by being cautious, careful, and familiar with the baby rabbit’s needs.
You can use a clean oral syringe for feeding goat or kitten milk replacer to the baby bunnies. Until the babies reach the eighth week, you have to feed them milk two times a day. Depending on their growth and age, you can decide the amount of milk for each baby.
Below are a few comprehensive instructions and knowledgeable advice for feeding baby rabbits.
Which Food Should I Feed Baby Rabbits
The best food for baby bunnies is either KMR (kitten milk replacer) or goat milk. You can buy the kitten milk replacer in ordinary pet shops or at veterinarian’s hospitals. However, finding goat’s milk is not easy, and they are not present in local stores.
Many rabbit owners use KMR as the instant baby rabbit’s formula. To prepare the milk, you can read the instructions on the formula box.
It is better to avoid feeding ordinary cow’s milk to the baby bunnies as it is poisonous.
If you want, you can mix one tablespoon of sugar-free whipping cream in the milk before feeding babies. The rabbit milk has high calories, so adding some whipping cream into the formula encourages the baby bunnies to grow.
When you have a healthy mother rabbit in your home, it is better to gather their cecotropes. These are the soft and fluffy droppings the bunnies eat and add a pellet to the milk.
For a healthy and good digestive system, the baby bunnies need to have typical bacteria in their intestinal tracts, and the above formula will act as a supplement to it.
To make the formula for five days, you need at least one cecotrope each day to the replacer. It is crucial to provide this supplement for baby bunnies that are less than seven days old.
When the baby bunnies are a week old, they will open their eyes, and you can feed them different kinds of food such as timothy hay, pellets, and oat hay. It is natural for the baby bunnies to not eat these foods at first, and later on, they will learn to eat them and starts growing. These baby rabbits will slowly eat the hay or pellets but don’t forget to give them milk.
When the rabbits reach the third or fourth week, you can introduce water to them. It is better to keep a water bowl in its pen.
After eight or twelve weeks, you can start feeding them green leafy vegetables and fruits. You have to be careful while feeding new kinds of food to the bunnies, so keep a specific limit to the amount.
When you see that the mother is not feeding the baby rabbits during the day, it is not a problem. Most mother rabbits frequently feed their baby bunnies during the night as it is peaceful.Only give them food when you are sure that the babies didn’t get enough food.
Below are a few symptoms that show that the baby rabbit is not getting enough food.
- Boredom and lazy
- Deficiency in growth
- Having constant cold
- When it has blue shade skin
- When the rabbit looks like crying while you are feeding it
- Dry skin because of dehydration
When Should I Feed The Baby Rabbit
As the baby bunnies are tiny, they can die when you feed them too much food. It is better to feed the rabbits only two times a day and make sure that you leave enough time in between before feeding again.
If you think that the mother is not giving sufficient milk to the baby rabbit, you can feed formula to it, and before that, know the perfect timing and exact amount of formula to feed the baby bunny. It implies that you can give food to the baby rabbit only one time a day or two days, and the baby should get the food from the mother.
The newborn rabbit can not open its eyes in the first week. After feeding, it needs stimulation in its intestinal and urinary tracts.
Generally, mother rabbits will lick the baby’s bums, and this method helps the baby urinate and defecate quickly. When you are providing food for them, you have to stimulate their bum area.
It is productive to use a moist and warmer cotton piece for rubbing the bums of the babies. Even when the baby bunny is doing its activities in the bathroom, you need to rub the bum area till the baby rabbit finishes its activities. When the babies open their eyes in the following weeks, you can stop doing it.
After a few weeks, if you see that the baby rabbits are growing healthy, you can reduce the feeding time to only once a day. When the rabbits develop a fluffy and round abdomen, it means that they are active, and you are feeding them well.
How Much Amount Of Food Should I Feed The Babies
You can decide the amount of food for feeding the babies by checking on their natural breed, age, and size. When the bunnies are born, they are too small so give them milk twice a day in small amounts. You can use the sterilized oral needle to check the quantity of the formula.
To know more about the average quantity of milk per single feeding, here is a simple list:
Stage 1: 0 weeks: 2 to 2.5 cubic centimeter
After the baby rabbit is born, a few drops of the formula is enough to make their belly full. You have to be cautious while preparing the milk as they have delicate bodies.
Stage 2: 1 week: 6 to 7 cubic centimeter
You can increase the quantity of formula, and you don’t have to worry if the baby rabbits are not consuming the whole amount.
Stage 3: 2 weeks: 12 to 13 cubic centimeter
It is the stage where you can start feeding water and new food like hay or pellets. However, you still need to give them milk as they are young, and sometimes it is good to stimulate their back while they are doing their bathroom activities.
Stage 4: 3 to 6 weeks: 15 cubic centimeter
Here, the baby bunnies are ready to eat vegetables and can drink water. Often the babies will express the weaning signs.
Stage 5: 7 to 9 weeks: starts weaning
At this stage, you don’t have to feed them formula. The babies can eat various foods like fruits, hay, green leafy vegetables, and pellets. When the baby bunnies reach the second month, you can separate them from their mother.
You have to remember that if you are feeding small breed rabbits, they may eat only a tiny amount. Every baby bunny has certain limits, and you don’t have to worry if other bunnies are eating more or less than the average quantity. Besides, the babies will get the nutrition from the rabbit foods like hay or pellets.
As you know, that the baby bunnies could die from overfeeding, so you have to feed them only the required food and not more.
How Should I Feed Baby Rabbits
When you feed the baby rabbits, place them in a vertical or straight position as this posture reduces the risks of choking on food.
You can carry the babies in your bare hand, and if your hands aren’t warm, it is better to keep them in a warm blanket or towel for the rabbit’s comfort. You have to remember that if the rabbits are cold, they are less willing to eat the formula.
Furthermore, it is not good to keep them in a hot place for too long. The baby bunnies are very vulnerable to heat and harsh temperatures.
You can keep the babies in locations that are between 60 to 75 degrees as these temperatures are warm enough for bunnies.
If your baby rabbit feels uncomfortable whenever you hold it, you may face issues while feeding it. It is better to keep the baby near your chest area with a firm grip but don’t carry it too tight.
When the bunny starts to eat the formula, it will relax in your hands. Keep the baby in a safe environment that reduces stress as much as possible.
As the baby rabbits are too tiny, it is not easy for you to find the best tool for feeding formula to the baby. Hence, the sterile oral syringe or an eyedropper are the best options for feeding the baby. The oral syringes let you feed the babies slowly, and you can buy them at many places like pet shops, hospitals, drugstores, or online.
You can search in the Amazon as it has hundreds of different oral syringe models with nipples, and these are good enough for feeding milk to newborn rabbits and other animals.
From the above information, it is evident that you have to feed the baby rabbit at a slow pace. When you give the milk to the babies by force, the baby may choke, or the formula will directly enter it into its lungs, which results in the rabbit’s death.
While feeding the milk, give break intervals for the baby. Some people think it is a tiresome or time taking task, but it helps the baby bunny digest the milk.
When the baby feels terrified or shy during the early stages of feeding, the above procedure helps the baby calm down. Feeding the baby at a calm and slow pace makes the baby build more trust in you, and it will feel safe and comfortable around you over time.
When the baby bunnies are ignoring to drink the formula, it means that they feel full. It is not good to force more milk, and if you are feeding newborns, stimulate their back after feeding.