Animals have a different relationship with their parents as compared to humans. When a human child is born, it depends on its parents for the first 18 years. People depend on each other for one thing throughout their lives. On the contrary, rabbits are different. Rabbits, like other animals, stop caring for their kit a little while after their birth.
Every animal has a different timeline. Some animals separate their young from the mother right after birth, and some do not do it till later in life. If you have a new mother rabbit with a fresh set of its first litter, you must have questions about separating the kits from the mother. So, when can you separate baby rabbits from their mother?
Baby rabbits should stay with their mother for about eight weeks after birth. Rabbits begin to eat adult food like hay and pellets when they reach the age of two weeks. However, they need their mother’s feed until two months of age.
Caring for baby rabbits and knowing their needs is essential for their long and healthy life. Just like rabbit kits depend on their mother, they also depend on the pet owner. As a pet owner, you are responsible for making the best decisions for your precious furry friends. Scroll down to learn more about baby rabbits and their separation from their mothers.
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The Weaning Process
Before the baby rabbit is mature enough to handle itself without the help of its mother, the weaning process occurs. The helpless baby rabbit is slowly introduced to the adult diet and learns to look for the food itself. During this process, the baby rabbit drinks its mother’s milk but begins eating solid food. There are a few stages of the weaning process:
The Birth Stage
Baby rabbits are tiny creatures at the time of their birth. Kits do not open their eyes and ears till they are two weeks old. The baby bunnies will feed on their mother’s milk and warmth during this time.
Kits this young are prone to malnourishment and weakness unless their mother feeds them well. A mother rabbit will feed its kits twice daily to ensure they get the necessary nutrients. After reaching two weeks, the baby kits will start growing fur, open their eyes, and nibble on hay and pellets.
The Growth Stage
From 3 to 6 weeks, the baby rabbits will grow rapidly and explore new things. Baby bunnies will drink their mother’s milk and enjoy occasional pellets and hay. It will be best to keep an eye on the young one’s fecal matter to notice any signs of diarrhea due to the new solid food intake.
In the late stages of this stage, the fifth or sixth week, the kits will begin to drink water from their mother rabbit’s water source. Remove the baby nest from the cage when you notice this new thirst in the baby rabbits to avoid infection. Once the furry little guys get gut flora in the sixth week of their life, the weaning process will end.
|The Weaning Process|
|The Birth Stage||– Two weeks after birth|
– Dependant on mother’s milk
– Closed eyes and ears
– Prone to malnourishment
-Begin exploring solid food
|The Growth Stage||– Three to six weeks after birth|
– Eat occasional pellets and hay
-Prone to diarrhea
– Require freshwater
-Development of gut flora
The Separation Process
After the weaning process, you can separate the baby rabbits from their mother. As the separation happens, keep an eye on the baby rabbits. Getting away from their mother can be stressful for the little guys. If you want to give away your baby rabbits to another person to raise, wait for 2 to 3 weeks before doing so.
The separation alone will be a massive transition for the kits. A whole new place can add to their stress. Ensure that the baby bunnies get comfortable staying away from their mother before sending them away to their new home. Furthermore, take the whole litter away from the mother to reduce the adult rabbit’s stress and the chance of mastitis.
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How To Safely Separate Baby Rabbits From Their Mother?
Separating the rabbit babies from their mothers requires proper preparation to make the transition easy for the kits and the mother. The newly born litter will require proper nutrition, living space, water source, and environment to become adults in a comfortable and safe atmosphere.
Here is how you can provide a safe and healthy transition for your litter:
The first thing your new baby rabbits need is a cozy cage separate from their mother. Ensure that it has no loose ends that might harm your poor bunnies. Use a cage that has tiny openings to prevent baby bunnies from falling out or running away.
Baby rabbits need to stay hydrated for better growth. When you switch your litter to a new cage, they will not have access to their mother’s water bowl or bottle to drink water. You must provide them with a constant water source dedicated to the kits. When introducing a new water source to the kits, it is best to provide them with a bottle and a bowl. See what the kits prefer and use that source permanently.
The baby rabbits will start eating hay and pellets at six weeks of age. It will be best to provide the kits with good-quality pellets and grass hay for optimal nutrition. If the litter is massive in number and has 10 to 12 kits, provide enough food to avoid malnourishment and fights. Refrain from feeding too many new things to your baby rabbits at this stage of their lives. Bunnies have sensitive stomachs, and kits will be prone to catching diarrhea and intestinal issues.
It will take some time for the kits to get used to being away from their mother. The newly born baby rabbits might seem depressed and eat less for a few days. Do not cave in and put them back in their mother’s cage. It will make things worse for the kits and the mother. If the kits are as old as six weeks, the mother might be aggressive toward them, forcing them to start living independently.
When To Intervene
If the kits have yet to adjust to their new surroundings after five days, do not give them to their mother. You can get a foster mother rabbit for the kits. However, it is best to wait in that case. Animals are used to living on their own once they have reached maturity. Rabbits are no different. The baby rabbits will learn to live on their own sooner than later.
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The Perfect Nest For The Litter
Baby rabbits will not be as giant as adult rabbits, but they love to zoom around. When a baby rabbit reaches the age of six weeks, it becomes hyperactive and hops almost constantly. Due to this level of physical activity of babies, ensure to provide them ample space with a spacious cage.
Kits stay warm by sleeping close to each other. You will have to create a soft, cozy nest for them to share. You can use a cardboard box of optimal size as a nest. Line it with newspaper, straw, or hay to make it soft for the baby rabbits.
You can create a little shallow nesting dent in the hay with your fist for the bunnies to use as their bed. To ensure safety and coziness for the baby bunnies, you can use the leftover fur from the mother rabbit in the litter’s nest.
Baby rabbits are a greater responsibility than adult rabbits. Once they are in the growth stage, adapting to the new world without depending on their mother, your responsibility as a pet owner increases. Ensure that you are capable of providing the litter with optimal living conditions.
Keep the baby rabbits safe and sound. Watch out for diseases and infections, as baby rabbits have weaker immune systems than adult bunnies. If you are not prepared to raise baby rabbits, get your adult bunnies neutered and spayed. It will make your life easier and happier.