With shelters and rescues overflowing with homeless pet rabbits, we advocate that bunny owners spay and neuter their pets so they do not breed. After all, female rabbits can produce as many as twelve offspring every month. That’s a lot of bunnies!
That said, in the case that you are caring for a pregnant rabbit or new mother, here are a few basic tips:
- Separate the male rabbit from the female so they cannot mate. If you do not separate them, the male rabbit will impregnate the mother again once she gives birth, as well as the female offspring when they reach sexual maturity. Since the male and female are bonded, however, it is important that the male can still see the female and nuzzle with her through a secure physical barrier. This reduces stress for both rabbits. Just make sure they cannot mate!
- Provide a nest box in a quiet area. Mother rabbits will pull fur and gather other materials to make a nest right before she gives birth. Place the nest in the box. If she hasn’t made one, you can make one out of hay.
- Mother rabbits nurse only once or twice a day. This behavior does not mean she’s neglecting the babies.
- In the case that the babies are scattered and cold, you will need to intervene to ensure the babies are warm. They will not be able to digest food if they are cold.
- Check the baby bunnies daily to ensure they have full tummies. If they have sunken bellies and wrinkled skin, this may be a sign that the mother is not lactating, and you will need to bring her to a rabbit-savvy vet for a dose oxytocin, which will stimulate the milk glands.
- Babies can be removed from their mother at 8 weeks. The babies should not be weaned earlier because they need to receive necessary gut flora and antibodies from their mother. At 8 weeks, you should also separate the male and female offspring, so they do not breed. Male rabbits can reach sexual maturity as early as 10 weeks.
For more baby bunny care tips, see these trusted resources:
- Domestic Baby Bunnies and Their Mom by Sandy Koi, Kind Planet and the House Rabbit Society
- Surprise Litter of Babies! What to do now? by Dana Krempels, Ph.D., University of Miami Biology Department
For information about finding a wild baby bunny, see our article, Finding a Wild Baby Rabbit: What to Do.