Like all mammals, baby rabbits rely on their mothers’ milk during the early period of their life, the first twenty days since the birth. Rich in antibodies, mother’s milk helps protect baby bunnies from diseases. But what to feed baby rabbits without a mother?
Kitten Milk Replacer with whipping cream and acidophilus makes the best formula for babies. Goat milk can be mixed too. Lyophilized colostrum is also proven to help little bunnies. Solid foods should be given to rabbits with open eyes. Water can be added gradually.
This answer makes sense for experienced keepers. For new caregivers, there is a lot to learn because simple mistakes in the choice of food may endanger the lives of newborns. Hey, I am Kawkab Nadim putting in further details about the baby rabbit diet.
Read more about “Rabbits As Pet’s Pros And Cons” Details here
What to Feed a Baby Bunny Without Mother?
We’re talking about feeding a rabbit that doesn’t have the privilege to get food from its mother. So, the first thing is to prepare a healthy formula that makes up for mother’s milk.
Some might call it a homemade rabbit milk replacer, but you can’t really do it without buying the following items.
- Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR) is the most reliable substitute for natural rabbit milk. The formula of KMR is prepared from eggs, milk, oils, minerals, whey protein, and vitamins.
- Fresh goat milk is another calorie-rich substitute. Visit the local pet store or vet’s office to gather both items.
- Lyophilized Colostrum is a good dietary supplement for baby bunnies. It needs to be freeze dried. It is available in powder form or capsules at a considerable cost.
- Heavy Whipping Cream can be added to increase the amount of calories. Make sure it is 100% sugar free.
- Acidophilus (Probiotic) works well for baby rabbits as it helps them maintain friendly intestinal bacteria.
Preparing the Formula
With the above items in collection, you can prepare two different types of formulas. Follow the instructions to get the mixtures right.
- Take a clean lidded container.
- Mix 1 can of KMR.
- Add 1 tbsp. of whipping cream.
- Mix regular goat milk to it. Don’t mix more than 1/2 cup.
- Add acidophilus. Just a pinch of the probiotic product will do.
- Shake the container for a while.
Another formula which is also recommended by vets can be prepared this way:
- Take a clean container.
- Add 1/2 cup of KMR and whole goat milk.
- Mix 1-1.5 tbsp. of lyophilized colostrum.
- Mix 1/2 tbsp. of whipping cream.
- Shake the container very well because the colostrum takes a while to get suspended.
It is a good idea to prepare the mix a few hours before you are ready to feed the bunny. During those hours, the colostrum gets the time to soften and dissolve easily.
To make the food more appealing to your little pet, you may consider heating the formula. Keep the temperature within 105 °F while heating. Give the container a water bath to keep the formula inside warm.
Getting Feeding Supplies
You must think of the ways to feed the pet the ready formula. For this purpose, you’ll find some supplies quite handy.
- Sterilizing Steam Bag makes it easy for you to disinfect other materials which you will use while feeding your rabbit. Get the plastic products.
- Nursing Nipples should be small enough to be suitable for the bunny. It might be hard to find them. If you cannot find exactly what is ideal for rabbits, buy nipples made for baby kittens.
- Nursing Bottle/Syringes come in different sizes and types, depending on the nursing nipples. So, buy them according to the nipples.
Feeding an Orphaned Baby Bunny
Mother rabbits have a special way to take care of their babies, especially when it comes to feeding. Twice a day (once at dawn and once at dusk) is the usual routine. Here is the guide to help you.
Determine the Amount of Food
The formula can be given until the rabbit reaches 6 weeks of age. Split the milk formula into equal feeding for each time of the day.
- Up to 1 Week of Age: 4 – 5 cc
- 1–2 Week(s) of Age: 10 – 15 cc
- 2–3 Week(s) of Age: 15 – 30 cc
- 3–6 Week(s) of Age: 30 cc
Disinfect Feeding Supplies
Read the instructions written on the bag carefully and steam disinfect everything. Whatever touches the mouth of the bunny needs to be free of germs and other infections.
Hold the Baby Rabbit
Rest on your floor and take a lap cushion (towel). Due to the unpredictable nature of the pet, you should be alert in every way you can so that it doesn’t get injured by hurling itself off a table or chair.
Hold the bottle in one hand and the baby in another. Make sure the pet lies horizontal and in the stronger hand. Wrapping the bottle in a piece of washcloth with the nipple slightly protruding is a good idea because the bunny can paddle the bottle with its feet and get the feeling of its mother’s breast.
Start Feeding Patiently
Some bunnies don’t find the nipples attractive. Expect some resistance here, but avoid applying any force. You may want to wet its lips with a few drops of the formula to tempt it into licking. Repeat the procedure and wait until the drops are completely swallowed.
Squeezing the syringe plunger too much is a bad idea. Some rabbits lose the suckling tendency in just a couple of days after feeding starts. You need to be patient until the bunny learns how to suckle. Eventually, the pet will have its way to use as much strength required to finish the formula in the bottle.
Some syringe plungers come lubricated with pediatric simethicone suspension which helps the suckling creature to get the liquid out of the container without external intervention. If you apply too much force, the bunny might just aspirate the formula.
Considering that the biological or surrogate mother is not available, you can use either of the formulas as an emergency baby bunny food.
Get the Rabbit to Defecate and Urinate
With feeding comes another process – urination and defecation which helps the animal keep its urinary system and intestinal tract running. It is almost like what a mother rabbit would do for her baby.
Although it is essential that you stimulate the process after or before feeding the bunny, the commitment is required for only a couple of weeks or less (as long as it takes for the rabbit to open its eyes). So, how do you stimulate the action?
- Moisten a cotton ball with warm water.
- Stroke the anal gently.
- Stroke the genital area too.
- Keep doing this until the bunny starts and finish the process.
Handle the Risk of Aspiration
Seeing that bunnies aren’t suckling makes most people think there is a problem. On the contrary, most bunnies develop a habit of sipping from the nipple’s tip. It is safe for them to avoid aspiration. Try keeping the nipple down pointed or sideways and relative to the rabbit’s mouth. Thus, you don’t have to worry about aspiration anymore.
Take Steps in Case of Accidental Aspiration
Many caregivers don’t have any idea about the problems that might be caused by this. An accidental aspiration means the baby rabbit has its airway blocked, and soon it’ll pass out if it already hasn’t. Don’t worry just yet!
- Hold the bunny firmly between the palms
- Try to stabilize its neck and back to prevent any movement. Raise it above your own head in a way that its nose points skywards.
- Swing the pet downwards firmly but very gently towards your feet. Maintain the position for a few seconds.
- Bring the rabbit back to its normal physical position if you feel its movement, even in the slightest manner.
- Repeat the same maneuver a few more times if required.
This process allows the weight of your bunny’s internal physical organs to press against its diaphragm as you take it to a downward swing. So, enough pressure is generated to expel the accumulated air from the bunny’s lungs and formula from its airway.
Using prophylactic antibiotics is a familiar method, but you must consult with a veterinarian before putting the rabbit to take this procedure.
What to Feed Baby Rabbits: 3 Weeks Old or More?
It is time you thought about weaning the bunny. Not all species get ready for it at the same time. Wild rabbits may take 3 to 4 weeks while others like jackrabbits may require as long as 8 to 9 weeks. Most domestic species don’t usually take longer than 6 weeks.
Which Solid Items to Add to the Baby Rabbit Food List?
On most occasions, the eyes of baby rabbits open 10 days after their birth, and that is when yours should be able to eat solid food items. But you should go slowly in this case.
Get the bunny accustomed to a very little amount of solid food at the beginning. Once it has weaned; you won’t have to worry about its ability to handle foods other than the formula.
Food habits often vary from rabbit to rabbit depending on the type. Both alfalfa and timothy hay can be good for all types. Oat is another healthy addition.
You can feed your domestic rabbit some pellets. On the other hand, add some vegetables like carrot tops, leafy greens, and parsley to the wild baby rabbit food list. Look at this list to know the variations in diet for different breeds of babies.
- Cottontail Baby Bunny Food: garden vegetables, fruits, bark, buds, leaves, plants, sprouts, legumes, sedges, grasses, buds, etc.
- Lionhead Bunnies: Celery, berries, leafy greens, etc.
- Mini Lop Eared Rabbit Food: Herbs, vegetables, fresh fruits, etc.
- Rex Baby Bunnies: Fresh produce including dark leafy greens like kale and lettuce
- Food for Baby Polish Rabbits: Leafy greens and vegetables including kale, carrots, chard, peppers, cilantro, and tomatoes; fruits including melon, banana, apples, berries, etc.
Put the solid items in a corner of the rabbit’s house, so it can get ahold of the food easily. Get rid of the food waste to keep the bunny house free of bacteria or rotten leftover.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
As a rabbit grows, you can enjoy greater flexibility in choosing the number or variety of foods it can handle. Let’s have quick answers to some common and relevant questions.
01. What Are Rabbit Treats?
Answer: Apart from the typical food for baby bunnies, you can let it indulge in some treats like fresh fruits, barley, and oats. However, it is recommended for a rabbit keeper to avoid giving too much of anything, especially carbohydrates.
02. Do Baby Rabbits Drink Water?
Answer: Some bunnies seem to love nursing even after reaching eight weeks of age. It is okay to bring changes to the formula. You should maintain 75% of the formula and 25% of water in the preparation. Gradually, the rabbit will be able to lose interest in the formula.
Also, plain water can also be allowed. Bring a shallow dish and fill it with a little water. Place the dish at a spot that is convenient for the pet.
03. Can Baby Rabbits Eat Cabbage?
Answer: Cabbages are not harmful. Green or red cabbages, Bok Choy, and Savoy are considered safe for the babies. Don’t feed the bunny too much, though!
04. Can Baby Bunnies Drink Cow Milk?
Answer: Despite the many good things about cow milk, it should not be chosen as part of a rabbit’s diet. Cow milk contains certain ingredients which may pose serious health risks for your little rabbit.
Guess, you already know what to feed baby rabbits without a mother and how to aid them in the development of their feeding behaviors. There is a few more things I would like to suggest.
Don’t feed grains such as bread, cereal, rice, crackers; junk food such as candies, cookies, and chips; and other items like meats, eggs, yogurt, ice cream, nuts, etc. Your bunny is not just capable of processing these foods without problems.
Also, try to avoid unnecessary physical contacts with the animal during the first 10-12 days of age unless you’re feeding or grooming the pet.
Still some questions in mind? Well, write to me and I’ll assist, promise!