We cover all you need to know about rabbit reproduction, from how to look after the doe when she is pregnant, caring for baby rabbits and feeding.
Care of Newborn Rabbits (Kits)
Baby rabbits are called kits. For the first 5-7 days they are completely helpless and depend on mum for everything. Please keep the following points in mind when caring for kits;
- DO NOT TOUCH kits when born as this can cause mum to reject them
- Check the nest daily and check kits are moving but do not touch them
- Watch mum to check she is going to kits regularly and is nursing them
- If Kits need hand feeding use Goats milk as rabbits are lactose intolerant
- At about 7-10 days the Kits will start to open their eyes and begin to crawl out of the nest
- Around 21 days old the Kits will start to eat a small amount of normal rabbit food so at this point increase the amount you are feeding mum so there is enough for everyone
- At 6 weeks old, remove Kits from mum and completely weaned
- Kits can be sold/rehoused from 8 weeks old.
Looking After the Doe
A female rabbit is called a doe. Pregnancy will usually last for about 28 days and you will notice a number of changes to her appearance and your care for her during this period:
- You may note that she has very little hair once she has plucked herself and made a nest this is normal and it will grow back
- The doe should be fed normal amounts of food even when she is feeding the Kits. The only difference in her diet should be to swap the concentrate she is being fed to a junior diet
- When the kits are 6 weeks old and have been weaned change the does food back to normal and get her spayed as soon as possible.
Diet is very important with rabbits and you should be checking daily that they are eating and passing faeces. This can be very difficult when doe and kits are all in hutch together. Keep these points in mind when feeding your rabbits during pregnancy as well as throughout their lifecycle:
- The concentrate should form the main nutrient source of a rabbits diet and a doe suckling kits and rabbits under one year of age should be on Junior rabbit food
- All rabbits over one year of age should be on adult food
- Fresh vegetable should be available but avoid vegetables high in water content as this can cause diarrhoea.
- Hay should always be available this adds roughage to the diet and help with wearing down teeth which are constantly growing
- Fresh drinking water should always be available
- Only feed pellets as a concentrate source. Often owners feed muesli based diets however this is not good for Rabbits guts and results in selective feeding which can lead to problems.
If you have any questions about rabbit reproduction, or looking after newborns, please get in touch.