Are you suspecting that your rabbit is pregnant? Unexpected pregnancies are quite common in unsterilised rabbit households due to incorrect sexing. It is very difficult to tell male from female in young rabbits after all. This incorrect pairing can lead to unexpected pregnancies, especially if you planned on getting a same-sex pair.
Before you start worrying about how to care for a pregnant rabbit, let’s make sure that she is actually pregnant.
Rabbits can breed from a very young age. If you have a dwarf or small breed rabbit, you can expect your bunny to be sexually mature at around three and a half to five months old. In large or giant breeds it can take anywhere from five to eight months to reach sexual maturity.
If your bunny is already sexually mature and you expect that she’s pregnant, look for the following signs:
You might not be aware that your rabbit is pregnant until a few days before she gives birth unless you’ve seen the mating. Most bunnies hide their pregnancies very well and none of the signs may be present at first. If you notice any sudden behavioural changes like pulling fur and creating a nest, you might need to prepare for some rabbit babies on the way.
It is possible for female rabbits to have fake or pseudopregnancies. This means that she will display all the signs of being pregnant and even build a nest, but the babies will never arrive. You’re most likely dealing with a fake pregnancy if all your rabbits are definitely female or your male is sterilised.
If you suspect your rabbit is pregnant but you’re not sure how that could’ve happened, you can take your cotton-tailed friend to the vet for an examination. If she’s around 10 to 14 days pregnant, the vet should be able to identify the babies with an ultrasound or by palpating her abdomen. The vet should also be able to tell if it’s a pseudopregnancy. Pseudopregnancies will usually only last two to three weeks before she'll be back to normal behaviour.
Collecting Nest Material by Mark Philpott
Caring for a mother-to-be really isn’t that different from normal rabbit care. You will need to make sure she always has access to fresh, clean water and good quality hay. Once she reaches the end of her pregnancy, you will need to provide an appropriate nesting box with ample straw to build a nest with. Also, make sure to separate her from the male since he’ll try to mate with her immediately after she gave birth and may even kill his offspring.
Preparing for the birth of your new baby rabbits isn’t difficult. You will need to give the mother an appropriate nesting box about seven days before her due date to prepare a suitable nest. Also, give her plenty of hay or straw to build a nest with.
New mothers will usually build their own nests and pull fur from their sides, chests and dewlaps to line the nest with. This fur is very important for keeping the babies warm. If the mother doesn’t pull fur, you will have to hold her and pull her fur or substitute with an appropriate material like cotton wool.
The rest is really up to the new mom-to-be. On the day of the birth, make sure to leave her alone. You can check that all the babies are alive, but don’t touch them unless it's an emergency.
A rabbit pregnancy usually lasts for 28 to 32 days regardless of breed. After birth, the mom will rarely if ever be seen near her young. This is normal since rabbits only feed their kits once or twice a day.
You can expect around four or five kits (baby rabbits) from your small breed rabbit and 12 or more from your large breed rabbits. If you want to know more about caring for baby rabbits, click here.
If your rabbit is pregnant, you can expect quite a few babies to arrive. Make sure you’re prepared to care for these little cuties and their mom. It can be quite fun to build your own nesting box if you like doing DIY projects.
If you’re not a registered breeder, make sure to get both your rabbits fixed before any more breeding takes place. There are loads of rabbits in shelters and I’m sure you don’t want to contribute to that number.
Remember to enjoy this miracle with your bunnies. Seeing baby rabbits is quite a sight to behold.
As a bunny owner, you will need to transport your rabbit from time to time. You might need to visit the veterinarian or just want to take your beloved pet with you on holiday. No matter the reason, you will need to know how to transport your rabbit safely.
Don’t fret if you’ve never had to transport your rabbit, here is what you need to know.
Toki - The kids at the vet for claw trimming by Tjflex2
If you’re planning to go away for the holiday, you might want to take your precious bunny with you, but is it really in your pet’s best interest to travel with you? Travelling can be extremely stressful to you and your long-eared friend. Most pet bunnies will be much happier staying at home with a pet sitter rather than travelling with you.
If travelling is a must, there are a few things you can’t go without. These items are non-negotiable if you want your bunny to feel safe and comfortable. Travelling can make rabbits very sick due to the stress, so it is in your best interest to make your pet comfortable. A rabbit should never be allowed to roam freely in your car. It is very dangerous not only for your pet but for you as well.
Cat carriers are great for transporting rabbits, especially those with hard sides and multiple doors. Carriers will keep your fluffy friends safe while in the car, create a space for them to hide in and protect your car against urine and faeces.
You will need to make sure the carrier is big enough for one or two rabbits to turn around and lay stretched out. It should, however, still be small enough to create a sense of security for your bunny.
For rabbit carriers, a hard material such as plastic or wire is necessary to prevent chewing and escape. Collapsible, soft-sided carriers aren’t suitable for rabbits and neither is cardboard boxes. Both are too easy to chew through, and the boxes may become dangerous to your pets when soaked in urine.
The ideal carrier for a rabbit should be able to open both on the sides and at the top to make it easier to get to your fluffy friend. Other features should include a non-slip floor, hard solid walls and good ventilation. You can cover the carrier with a towel or blanket to make the interior even darker, but keep in mind that your rabbits still need proper ventilation.
It is very important for your rabbit to stay hydrated throughout the whole trip, especially if your travelling over a long distance. Providing a water bowl is a recipe for disaster since the water will spill all over the place as the car moves over bumps. It is much better to provide a rabbit drinking bottle.
Attach the drinker to the carrier to allow your rabbits access to water throughout the trip. Most drinkers come with metal clips to help you secure them to the carrier without any risk to your bunnies.
Make sure that your fluffy friend has ample hay to chew on inside the pet carrier. You might have to take some extra hay to replaced any soiled hay. The hay will also provide a nonslip surface for your bunny to relax on during your trip.
It is extremely important that your cotton-tailed friend has access to food at all times, even when going in for an operation. Never starve your rabbits, their bodies don't work like those of cats or dogs.
Rabbits have very delicate digestive systems that may shut down completely when your bunny is starved. This may lead to serious health problems and even death. If your bunny refuses to eat during a trip, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Most carriers have a removable floor that allows urine and faeces to collect underneath away from your pets. Your rabbit will stay dry, but there's no escaping the strong ammonia smell.
It is best to use an absorbent material like puppy training pads or newspaper to absorb the urine at the bottom of the carrier. Use puppy training pads if you want to take care of the smell. This way your bunnies will be much happier without the strong smell of ammonia constantly around them.
If you’re wondering which carrier is best for your rabbits, here are a few options:
This carrier is ideal for short trips to the vet. It is easy to assemble, hard to chew through and easy to carry.
This carrier has lots of ventilation holes, is difficult to chew through and have a top-loading door for easy access to your bunny.
This travel carrier is large enough to transport two or even three rabbits quite comfortably. If you have a bonded pair, this crate is the way to go.
This carrier isn't that great for driving long distances, but it is definitely ideal to take your bunny on a walk. It comes in handy if the vet is just a walk away.
This combination carrier is ideal for any situation or adventure you plan to go on with your bunny.
As a first step to reduce stress, get your bunnies used to the travel container a few days prior to your big trip. Place it somewhere within your bunny enclosure and let them investigate it on their own terms. You will soon notice them going in and out as they please without any motivation from you.
If you want to make the carrier even more attractive to them, place some yummy treats or hay inside for them to nibble on. On the day of the trip, feed them inside the carrier and close the door to keep them there. Bonded bunnies can travel together in one container as long as it can accommodate them both. Let the trip begin!
Just like with dogs and cats, it is possible to car train your rabbit, but it will take a considerable amount of time. Keep in mind that not all bunnies are good travellers and the majority prefers to stay home. If you’re someone that travels a lot and your bunnies will need to go with you, then car training will definitely be beneficial.
Start by getting your fluffy friends used to the travel container. Once they’re comfortable going in on their own, carry them to the car and start the car with them inside. Leave it running for a few minutes, then turn it off and take them back inside and feed them lots of treats. Do this for a few days until they relax and fall into the routine.
Next, drive around the block before letting them out of the car again. As they get used to the movement of the car, they will start to feel comfortable and behave normally. In time there should be no stress when it comes to travelling.
This whole process is called desensitization and will definitely help your bunny friend in the long run. Remember to be patient and loving and never scold your bun-bun for being scared.
There’s a lot of debate around where the safest place is to put an animal carrier in your car. Experts did a lot of experimentation and came up with the following:
The risk of injury is extremely high for the front passenger seat. If the airbags inflate when in an accident, they may damage the pet carrier and injure your beloved bunny. There is also a possibility of the carrier being thrown through the front window when braking hard or colliding with something.
While safer than being placed on the front passenger seat, there is still a significant risk of injury. When you’re in an accident there is the possibility of the carrier getting crushed.
The backseat is much safer than the front of the car. There is still a small risk of the carrier being thrown to the front of the car during a collision, however.
This is the safest area to place your pet carrier. There is nowhere for the carrier to go during a collision and much less risk of getting crushed.
If your carrier doesn’t fit behind the front and backseats, you can place it against the back of the backseat if you’re driving an SUV. If not, secure the carrier in the backseat. Never place your bunny inside the boot. It is too dark which can make the experience frightening and there is the possibility of running out of air.
If you’re transporting rabbits, remember to take your turns gently. Also, remember to break gently if possible. Taking turns quickly and breaking sharply will cause your rabbit to slide around and hit the sides of the carrier. This can be quite scary to them and cause potential injury.
Congratulations, you've managed to transport your rabbit safely but now what? If you just brought your rabbit home, you can check that you have everything you need on our rabbit care checklist.
Once you reach your destination, you will need to create a rabbit safe area for them to relax in. If you can, bring as many toys, blankets and other rabbit belongings with you to recreate their territory at home. It will also help them to settle if their smell is already around the place.
If your rabbit doesn’t travel well, you will need to give it time to settle and relax. Don’t force interaction and make sure there’s food and water available. If you can, bring bottled water from home and keep feeding them the same food to make them feel at home. Rabbits can sometimes be picky about the water they drink.
Travelling with your rabbit doesn’t have to be stressful for either of you. If you start car training early, you will have even more success. Don’t worry if your rabbit doesn’t travel well, just make them as comfortable as possible and keep your trips short. It is best not to keep them away from home for more than 2 days at a time.
Take some time to prepare your rabbit for travel, have patience and you both should have a great upcoming trip!
Baby rabbit care is a skill some rabbit owners need to learn quite unexpectedly. These little critters may surprise you by appearing in your rabbit hutch seemingly overnight. This is especially true if you're an owner of an unsterilized female or two.
Baby rabbits are called kits. They can come along if you have an unsterilised male and female pair or a misidentified male or female bunny that turns out to be of the other sex.
No matter how it happened, the babies are on the way or already here and you urgently need some baby rabbit care tips! Caring for these little balls of cuteness is now your main concern after all.
To bring your stress levels down a notch, let’s take a look at what you need to know to care for baby rabbits.
The first thing you’ll have to do is make sure mommy rabbit has a comfortable, safe place to have her babies. If you know the date she was mated, you can work out when she’ll need the nest. It is always a good idea to let her prepare the nest around 7 days before she is due. If you’re unsure, provide a nest as soon as she becomes restless.
Rabbits have a gestation period of 28 to 32 days regardless of breed size. This means that your rabbit will be pregnant for only a month before the babies arrive! Just before she's due she'll gather grass in her mouth to nest with. She'll also pull out the fur on her chest so don't panic when you see her plucking her own fur.
The nesting box size will depend on the size of the breed of rabbit you own. You can either build a nesting box yourself by searching for DIY rabbit nesting boxes, buy one on Amazon, or you can use something simple like a carton box with an entrance cut out just big enough for mommy to get in and out. (Keep in mind that you’ll probably have to disturb the babies every day to replace the carton box as it gets soggy.)
The nesting box should have a slight step to prevent the babies from getting out before they’re ready but still allow mom into the nest for feeding.
Once the nesting box is ready, provide lots of hay for your doe (female rabbit) to nest with and don’t panic if she starts pulling out her fur. Mother’s to be will arrange the hay to their liking and then line the nest with fur to keep the babies warm. This fur will usually come from her chest area and flanks.
If you notice that your bunny has built a nest but hasn’t lined it with fur after the babies are born, you can help her out by either holding her and pulling more fur for her to line the nest with or providing cotton wool to keep the babies warm. Make sure that the cotton wool or other material you provide as an alternative, isn’t stringy since such materials may be dangerous.
So you’ve given mom everything she needs to prepare for her babies, but what about your buck (male rabbit)? If you have an unsterilised buck, make sure you remove your male from the picture. Consider getting him fixed while your female raises the babies unless you’re a registered breeder.
It is very important to separate the male and female unless you want more babies in a month. Does can breed again even on the day they give birth! Doing so is unethical though, she at least deserves a little break before you plan to breed her again. Experts suggest that you wait 35 days to breed again.
In my opinion, there are enough rabbits in the world, so unless you have a specific reason to breed, just get your pets fixed.
If you’ve given mommy a nesting box and made sure she pulled enough fur to keep the babies warm, then the rest is up to her. All you can do on the day the babies are born is watch from a distance. If you interfere the mom might reject the babies or even eat them.
Make sure to avoid touching the babies until they are about 3 weeks old unless it’s an emergency. You can check on them to make sure they stay in the nesting box and that they’ve been fed. Their bellies will appear extended if they are full of milk.
If you find a baby outside of the nesting box, gently warm it in your hands if it is cold and then place it back into the nesting box with the others. Keep an eye to make sure the baby stays in the box.
If your doe gave birth in mid-winter, you can use a reptile heating pad to keep the nest toasty. The babies need to be able to move away from the heat if they want to.
Owners of new mother rabbits usually worry if the babies are being fed because they rarely if ever see mom near the kits. This is normal since rabbits kept some of the behaviours of their wild European ancestors. They will usually stay a good distance from the nest to keep the babies safe from predators, but they’ll still be watching.
The doe will usually only feed her young under the cover of darkness when she feels safe. The babies also only get fed once or twice a day, unlike puppies and kittens that need to be fed every two hours. Rabbit moms are very rarely seen with their kits.
Sparrow and babies by bonny_jean13
There's usually no need to worry, but you can check if the babies have full bellies. They will appear round and plump if they were fed and skinny when not fed. You can also keep an eye on the mom to see if she gets into the nesting box at least once a day. If the babies scatter around the cage or nesting area often, there is some cause for concern since they might be missing feedings.
You will need to make sure the babies are warm and then place them back into their nest. It might be necessary to upgrade the nest to prevent the babies from getting out.
Another way to check is to see if the mom is lactating. You will need to place your doe with her belly facing up on your lap. Find and then gently squeeze her nipple to see if any milk comes out. If you see a drop of milk, she’s definitely feeding her babies. If you can't seem to figure it out, take her and her babies to the vet for a checkup.
The vet will usually give the mom an estrogen shot to encourage motherly behaviour and lactation. In some cases, you will need to force the mom to feed her babies by holding her in a standing position over them. If that doesn’t work, you can either foster them with another rabbit mom (if you have one) or try to raise them yourself (not recommended).
Hand-rearing is not recommended when it comes to taking care of newborn baby rabbits. It is always better to attempt placing them with another lactating mother if you have two does that gave birth around the same time. If you don’t have another doe, you can attempt hand-rearing if it’s an absolute emergency.
Baby bunnies can be raised by feeding them goats milk or kitten formula. Before you attempt this, however, contact a veterinarian that has some knowledge of rabbits for advice. If it’s a wild rabbit you’re trying to save, first make absolutely sure that the mom isn’t close by feeding the baby at night.
Rabbit’s milk contains a lot of calories because the babies only get to feed once or twice a day. For this reason, it is a good idea to add 100% heavy whipping cream (make sure there’s no sugar added) to the kitten formula or goats milk.
It is very important to let the baby drink by itself. Force-feeding comes with the risk of aspiration (inhaling the milk). Use a syringe with a special nipple to allow the baby to drink. This way you can also track the amount.
Once the eyes are open and the babies are starting to explore adult food, you will need to feed them some of your adult rabbit’s cecotropes.
Cecotropes are the first soft, gell-like poos that a rabbit eats before making its usual round, dry poos. The cecotropes are very important since they contain healthy bacteria and nutrients that the babies will need to help them to develop the correct flora in their digestive systems.
Cecotropes are also excellent for treating weanlings with diarrhea. If the baby refuses to eat, mix two or three cecotrope pellets into the formula to feed the baby.
Baby rabbits will begin to eat solid foods when their eyes open at around 10 days old. Never try to feed them solid food before their eyes aren’t properly open. The babies will usually start to become curious and nibble on the hay in their nest when they are around 2 to 3 weeks old.
Just because the babies are eating doesn't mean you can wean them. Mommy rabbit will wean her young when they are around 6 weeks old or even older. She will gradually decrease feedings until they lose interest. Make sure you give her ample space to escape her babies during this stage.
For this reason, you should never force a baby rabbit to leave mom before it’s 8 weeks old. This is especially important in giant breeds. Rabbits under the age of three months should also never be fed any fruit or vegetables. It is best to give the babies access to unlimited hay. I would also suggest healthy, balanced rabbit food like rabbits pellets for vitamins and other nutrients.
It is best to avoid muesli, even in adult rabbits since it can cause digestive problems. Rather keep to rabbit pellets. These pellets are usually either made from timothy hay or lucerne. If you’re wondering about feeding your adult rabbits, you can check out our article on ‘How To Feed Your Rabbit’.
It is best to leave the nest alone and keep an eye from a distance. You should see mommy rabbit returning sometime during the night to feed her babies.
Baby rabbits should never be separated from their mother before they are at least 8 weeks old. This is very important in giant breeds since they mature much slower than dwarf breeds.
Baby rabbits are very fragile. It is best to leave them to their mom until they are around 3 weeks old. Rabbit babies of 3 weeks and older can be petted and gently handled.
Now that you know a bit more about baby rabbit care, you can finally relax a bit. Mommy rabbit should take care of most of the duties involved. All you have to do is provide a nesting area, nesting material, lots of food, fresh water and peace and quiet.
Keep an eye from a distance. If you notice any problems you can jump in to help. For more advice or if you have more questions, don't hesitate to comment below. I'll get back to you as soon as possible.