A rabbit’s diet is important for many reasons.
It affects its digestion process, helps grind down and maintain its teeth, and of course, it plays a part in making sure that your rabbit grows up healthy!
When you’re taking care of a domesticated baby rabbit without a mother, you can substitute milk with formulas like Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR) to feed it.
If you can’t find a formula that contains sufficient calories for a rabbit, you can opt for pure goat milk to feed the baby bun.
Additionally, you can also utilize special equipment like syringes or droppers to control the rabbit’s milk intake.
However, always make sure to sterilize everything before carrying out this practice.
Wild Baby Rabbits without a Mother
Sometimes wild rabbits leave their nests in plain sight.
If you notice a kitten of bunnies struggling to survive due to lack of food, you may feel like you have to act promptly and become their knight in shining armor.
However, this urge can lead to many irreversible consequences.
- If a rabbit mother sees a disturbed nest, it may abandon the babies.
- Wild baby rabbits can die from sudden touches as they sense it as a danger and get anxious.
- You can get serious diseases and infections.
In What Situation Is It Okay to Feed Baby Rabbits?
For wild rabbits that have been orphaned or abandoned, it’s better to leave their feeding up to the professionals.
Contact any wildlife center or a vet that can check the condition of wild baby rabbits with missing mothers.
You should only intervene and feed baby rabbits when they are your household pets.
As an owner, the responsibility of kitten’s growth also falls upon your shoulders.
Usually, this won’t be needed as the baby rabbit’s mother will take care of its nutrients and other socialization needs.
However, sometimes the rabbit’s mother can be aggressive towards its babies and show unwillingness to care for them.
There are also some unfortunate situations where the baby rabbits have lost their mother to death.
Sometimes, rabbit mothers also abandon their babies and return to the wilderness if provided with an opportunity to escape.
It is only under these extraordinary circumstances that you should step in and adopt the baby rabbits.
Now, you will have to ensure that the bunnies are well-fed and on their way to growing up into joyful hopping rabbits.
What to Feed Baby Rabbits Without a Mother?
Like most mammals, baby rabbits rely on milk to survive.
Even though mother rabbit only feeds her babies once a day, her calorie-heavy milk is enough to satisfy their hunger.
If a rabbit’s mother is unable to feed her offspring, you’ll need to find a nutritious replacement for the organic milk.
You should stick to a strictly liquid for the baby rabbits for the first two weeks after a rabbit’s birth.
Preferably go for a milk formula to compensate for the lack of nutrients caused by their mother’s absence.
Water is essential for humans and animals alike.
Keep your baby rabbits hydrated with a never-ending supply of water throughout the day.
You can also use a hanging bottle inside the cage so those rabbits who’ve grown enough to be self-sufficient can feed themselves water.
This will ensure that your rabbit never stays thirsty, even without your constant supervision.
Replacement Milk Formulas
Baby bunnies rely on their mother’s milk.
With this source of nutrition gone, the rabbits that don’t get an alternative to milk will get malnourished and weak.
However, rabbit milk contains many nutrients, and it’s definitely no easy feat to find an alternative.
So, if you’re adopting the baby rabbits, search for a substitute milk formula that consists of a suitable percentage of fat, protein, and energy to benefit the kittens.
Generally, it is recommended that you buy a Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR) from your local pet store or a veterinarian clinic.
Goat milk is a good replacement for formulas in case you’ve run out of powder milk or if you prefer that your bunny has a more natural diet.
Unlike most other types of animal milk, goat milk contains lower fats, protein, sugar, and lactose content.
Goats are also treated with fewer hormones compared to animals like cows, which means their milk is less likely to have harmful ingredients.
As a result, many experts believe that goat milk is less upsetting for a rabbit’s tummy and has a lower chance of causing an adverse reaction.
Though bunnies can tolerate goat milk easily, it doesn’t necessarily make a rabbit-safe alternative.
You should try mixing it in formula or other homemade supplements to dilute the milk before feeding it to your baby rabbits.
Also read: Can Baby Rabbits Drink Cow Milk?
Homemade Replacement for Rabbit Milk
Can’t find a suitable Kitten Milk Replacer for your baby rabbits but need to feed them something urgently?
Instead of feeding them pure goat milk, you can create a homemade formula that’s gentle to their stomachs.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide for creating one such recipe.
- Mix a cup of goat milk with about three tablespoons of powdered goat milk.
- Add sugar-free heavy whipping cream to make the formula richer.
- Heat the milk formula to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to Feed Baby Rabbits?
Feeding baby rabbits depends on how many weeks it has been since their birth.
For newborns, using syringes and droppers will be easier than using spoons or bottles.
When your rabbit has grown older than two weeks, you can start using a bottle to feed them milk replacements.
Using Syringes and Droppers
For infant rabbits, you may have to purchase syringes or droppers to feed them. Since the kittens are so young, they’re unable to sip from the bottle comfortably.
Another benefit of equipment like syringes and droppers is that you can control the amount of milk you’re feeding the babies.
When feeding baby rabbits through instruments like a syringe, you have to be extra careful not to put the syringe inside the rabbit’s mouth.
You should just let the tip stay near its mouth and push out controlled drops of warm milk from the syringe.
Let the baby rabbit smell the milk and familiarize itself with the taste. This can take some time for baby rabbits that were previously fed by their mother.
Bottle-Feeding Baby Rabbits
When the baby rabbits have grown a little, you can switch to a milk bottle.
Make sure to only buy a specialist animal feeding bottle from a pet store or a specialist vet.
Before feeding them the bottle, wrap the rabbit in a cozy towel to make them feel comfortable.
Avoid letting the baby rabbits lay down while you’re feeding them, as this position can flood their lungs.
Instead, it’s better to hold the rabbit upright in your hands and comfort them.
Next, try to familiarize your rabbit with the bottle nipple by placing it in the corner of its mouth.
Do not let it chew on it, as this can become a damaging habit.
Once the rabbit accepts the bottle, feed the milk slowly to avoid overflowing and choking your precious baby bun.
Introducing Solid Food to Baby Bunny Diet
When the litter reaches the age of three to four weeks, you can slowly introduce it to solid food such as hay and pellets.
Even though the baby rabbits can stomach solid foods at this stage, they still need to supplement their diet with milk for their growth.
By the seventh week, you can slowly reduce the amount of formula milk and replace it with a well-balanced diet consisting of hay, pellets, and vegetables like carrots and lettuce.
For baby rabbits, alfalfa hay is the best option.
This form of hay contains enough protein and calcium to help the bunnies grow with strong bones and muscles.
But since you can’t feed them alfalfa hay forever, try to mix some alfalfa hay with standard meadow hay every once in a while.
This will ensure that your rabbit is familiar with the taste of other types of hay and won’t face any appetite issues when they reach adulthood.
Consult your vet or take advice from the pet store before buying pellets for your baby bunnies.
There are many types and brands of pellets out there, and it’s not easy to research every single ingredient in them.
So, it’s better to ask an expert.
Always make to buy pellets that are specifically made for young rabbits.
Feeding pellets that are for adult rabbits can cause choking or digestion problems.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Your rabbit will love the taste of sweet fruits and crunchy vegetables. But is it good for them?
Baby rabbits have sensitive digestive tracts, and over-feeding them can cause a lot of gastronomical issues.
Therefore, you should try to only feed your rabbit fruits and vegetables in small quantities.
How Often Should You Feed Baby Rabbits?
Apart from the quality and quantity of the milk, you also need to be mindful of how many times per day you’re feeding the baby rabbits.
The amount and frequency of meals are important for rabbits.
Grown rabbits are munchers that prefer chewing on food all day.
However, raising baby rabbits will require you to find a balance between providing sufficient nutrients and accidentally overfeeding.
Frequency of Milk Replacements
For the initial six weeks of milk feeding, you should plan out how many milliliters of milk you should feed the kittens, depending on their age.
- For baby rabbits less than a week old, it is recommended that you give them around two milliliters of milk formula twice a day.
- When the rabbits cross one week, you can up the quantity to about seven millimeters.
- At two to three weeks of age, baby rabbits will almost require the double amount, so around 13 millimeter is advised.
- 13 to 15 millimeters of milk is sufficient for rabbits till they reach six weeks. At this point, the rabbit may try to wean off milk bottles, so try feeding it solid food that’s easy on their tummies.
What to Avoid Feeding Baby Rabbits Without a Mother?
Rabbits are very sensitive to diet changes. Before you introduce them to any food, ensure that it’s something you can keep feeding them for months to come.
There are also some types of foods that can be dangerous when given in excessive quantity.
Always be careful of the ingredients you’re feeding your baby rabbit as it can affect its growth.
A cow’s milk may consist of excessive hormones, lactose, blood, pus, and in some cases, traces of medication and antibiotics.
In general, rabbits have a sensitive stomach and digestive system. You can imagine how much worse cow milk can be for newborn rabbits.
Feeding cow milk to baby rabbits should be discouraged as it has a lot of health risks. In some serious cases, it may even cause the death of the small bunnies.
Excessive Dry Foods
Overfeeding pellets can lead to serious health problems such as obesity and GI tract issues for both baby and adult rabbits.
Even if it seems like your baby rabbit is enjoying the taste of pellets and vegetables, you have to limit their intake and give them milk and hay instead.
Assisting with Defecation and Urination
If your rabbit is not even ten days old or hasn’t opened its eyes yet, you might have to help them go toilet.
You can do this by wetting a cotton ball with warm water and gently stroking the genital and anal region of the rabbit until it poops or pees.
While this may be a daunting task for new pet owners, you have to remember that you’re just taking over the role of the rabbit’s mother.
And so, this is just part and parcel of being a new mother!
Some Common FAQs about Feeding Baby Rabbit without a Mother
Below are some of the common questions people have when taking care of a baby bunny without a mother:
Can baby rabbits survive without a mother?
Yes, baby rabbits can survive without their mother.
While their best chance of survival is when they have the mother rabbit to take care of them, in case the mother leaves or is not around, you can take care of a baby rabbit and it will survive.
They will need to be fed and taken care of. Baby rabbits are born without fur and are very fragile, so it is important to make sure they are kept warm and secure.
If the mother is not available, baby rabbits can be fed formula or goat’s milk until they are able to eat solid food. They will also need to be kept in a warm environment until they are able to regulate their own body temperature.
Can Baby Rabbits Drink Cow Milk?
No, baby rabbits should not be fed cow milk. Cow milk is not nutritionally appropriate for baby rabbits and can cause serious health problems.
The best thing for a baby rabbit is to feed him/her a specially formulated infant rabbit formula or Goat Milk. While Goal Milk is also not the best solution for infant baby bunnies, it’s easy on their stomach (compared with cow milk).
Can Baby Rabbits Drink Soy or Almond Milk?
No, you should not feed soy or almond milk to a baby rabbit. In fact, you should not feed any milk (except Goat milk).
The first few months are important for a rabbit’s long-term health.
At this stage of their development, they require nutritious milk and food to maintain healthy bones and build body mass as they grow and reach adulthood.
If your baby rabbits don’t have a mother to look after them, you’ll have to step in and ensure that they eat enough food every day.
Other articles you may also like:
- When Can You Separate Baby Rabbits from Mother?
- What Can Rabbits Chew on for their Teeth
- Can I Feed My Rabbit Before Spaying?
- Do Rabbits stop eating when they are full?
- What to do with a wild baby rabbit?
- How Many Times a Day Should I Feed My Rabbit?