Rabbits are known for their incredible reproductive capacity, but all mommy bunnies need a lot of care and help for the pregnancy to end well. There are many things you can do to make your period go as smoothly as possible. Start by preparing a box of hay so that the rabbit has a safe and comfortable place to give birth. Always make sure she is well accommodated and fed until the time of birth, when you have to think about whether you want to stay with the litter or look for a new home for the bunnies.
Method 1 of 3: Creating a Suitable Birthing Environment
Step 1. Offer the rabbit a place that is comfortable for her and the babies to be
A pregnant rabbit can give birth to up to 14 animals at once, which means she needs a good amount of space. A cage, box or house that is at least 70 cm x 40 cm is recommended. This way, she and her little children can move, take a walk and exercise without difficulty.
- If your rabbit doesn't have a house at least 70 cm x 40 cm, it's time to build or buy a new one.
- Ideally, the place where she will give birth is reserved, has low incidence of light, noise or other distractions.
Step 2. Place a box of hay in the cage to make the nest
Take a small wooden or cardboard box and place it somewhere in the cage. Cover the bottom with 8 to 15 cm of hay. The object has to be big enough to house the mother and cubs and low enough so that the rabbit can easily get in and out. She will use this place to rest until it is time to give birth.
- You can make the nest with other comfortable materials, such as: a layer of old cloths, paper towels or shredded newspapers.
- These materials help keep the puppies warm, which is critical to their survival.
a plastic cat litter box makes a great nest if you don't want to go to the trouble of making one yourself.
Step 3. Get in the habit of cleaning the cage and nest regularly
Replace hay and other materials every three days or as often as seems necessary. After removing the lining, rub the stains with a solution made with warm water, mild detergent and liquid castella soap.
- Maintaining a hygienic environment for the rabbit to give birth is essential, especially if it tends to defecate in the nest.
- Avoid using disinfectants or other chemical cleaning products on the wooden or cardboard box. These substances are generally harmful to rabbits and can cause severe digestive and respiratory problems.
Step 4. Separate the mother from the male rabbits right after she gives birth
Place the female rabbit and males in different, close-by cages or use a net to isolate them. This is a way to prevent animals from mating again. Be aware that rabbits are very attached to their partners, so it is important to allow them to still see, touch and interact with each other.
- Most females become pregnant again 48 to 72 hours after giving birth. That's why it's essential to keep Mom and Dad apart, unless you have a rabbit farm.
- When you don't get the male and female close together, they get stressed and may even get anxious, depressed, lose their appetite, or have other symptoms that make it difficult for them to care for the bunnies.
Method 2 of 3: Feeding and Caring for the Rabbit
Step 1. Give mom good quality food
Put plenty of hay and fresh vegetables every day for her to eat. Timothy hay is also very good for pet nutrition. You don't have to worry about the amount of vegetables, but it's a good idea to limit the hay according to the animal's weight so you don't overdo it.
- Rabbits love romaine lettuce, chard, carrot leaves, turnip greens, cilantro, basil, watercress, mustard and beet leaves.
- A good idea is to give 20 g of hay for every 2 kg of the rabbit's weight.
- Providing the right foods is one of the secrets to taking good care of a rabbit, but it's even more important when it comes to a pregnant female, because she eats for 12!
Step 2. Always keep the water dish full
Fill it at least once a day. The rabbit has to be well hydrated to produce milk and breastfeed the puppies.
You should notice an increase in the amount of water she drinks daily when she becomes a breastfeeding mother
Step 3. Carefully pick up mommy when you want to hold her or put her elsewhere
Grasp the underside of the chest, just above the front legs, and lift it on your forearm, using your hand to hold the rabbit's backside as you lift it. Take it close to your body so it is safe and warm. If she's scared or anxious, let her hide her face in your armpits until she's calmer.
You can also hold it by the back of the neck or give it a tug on the skin on the back of the neck while catching its hind legs with the other hand. This is how Mom transports the puppies
be careful when handling the rabbit. Do not squeeze it or apply too much force to the belly area.
Step 4. Let the rabbit play outside the cage for at least an hour a day
Get Mom out of the cage so she can take a walk once or twice a day. She can use this time to play, exercise, or have fun exploring a different environment. Stay close and watch her movements so she doesn't get hurt or go where she shouldn't.
- If you're thinking about letting the rabbit play indoors, take a moment to check that you don't have any objects that could hurt her. For example: wires from electronic devices, sharp items, or something small enough for her to swallow and choke.
- Daily physical activity is essential for pregnant rabbits, because it improves blood circulation, transporting nutrients to the animals inside her belly.
Method 3 of 3: Caring for the doe and litter after giving birth
Step 1. Get the dead chicks out of the cage
Unfortunately, not all bunnies survive childbirth. If you notice that one of them is not breathing, remove it from the place and bury it somewhere far from your house so as not to create a risk to the health of the others.
- Carefully examine the bunny before taking him out. A newborn may not move just because it is too cold and has a low body temperature.
- Mom knows what you smell like, so don't be afraid to go up to the nest and take out the poor thing that couldn't survive.
Step 2. Place a heat source in the cage to keep the bunnies warm
Fill a bottle with warm water (can't be hot!) or a thermos bag and put them under the nest liner and in a corner of the box. Thus, the puppies can choose where to stay if they are hot or cold.
- It is better to put more lining in the nest to prevent the bunnies from coming into direct contact with the water bottle, which must be too hot for them.
- Always have a heat source to use, even if it's just a heated towel. This care is even more important when the rabbit gives birth in winter or if you live in a very cold place.
Step 3. If mom is unable to breastfeed, feed the puppies milk twice a day
Fill a sterile syringe with about 5 ml of gently warmed formula. Take each of the bunnies and slowly drip a little bit of liquid into their mouths, letting them feed at their own pace and until the food is finished. Repeat the process twice a day until Mom starts feeding them.
- Keep an eye out for the first few days after birth. When the litter is well nourished, the belly gets bigger. If the abdomen is too shrunken, it is because the pets are hungry or malnourished.
- Sometimes Mom is isolated after giving birth. Maybe she avoids interacting with her little kids or just ignores them. If you notice the behavior, make an appointment with a veterinarian to examine the rabbit.
make your own formula with 4 liters of goat's milk, 1 teaspoon of corn syrup, an egg yolk and a packet of unflavored gelatin.
Step 4. Wait eight weeks to separate the mummy bunnies
Most rabbits stop feeding their young within six weeks. When she starts to stop breastfeeding, move the pets to their own cage or let them explore the environment.
- Check the sex of bunnies and separate males from females after eight weeks to avoid mating.
- When the bunnies are weaned and are able to get around on their own, start thinking about finding a new home for them.
- It's a lot of work and requires a lot of attention to take care of baby rabbits, especially if you intend to keep the whole litter. Take all the necessary precautions and anticipate the difficulties you may face.
- If the rabbits are out of the house or in a place where they can roam freely, surround the yard and leave no gaps to prevent the entry of a predator.
- See a veterinarian right away if the mother or puppies become sick, injured, or have a discomfort during pregnancy, the birth process, and the first few weeks.
- Reproduction is not an easy task. Taking care of animals and their puppies is a big responsibility. Don't let bunnies mate unless you have a good reason to put a new bunny in the world and you're sure you can take care of the bunnies properly later.