When Can you Separate Baby Rabbits from Mother?
As a pet owner, you would most probably love to see the babies of your pets especially if you have a pet rabbit. Their babies rabbits are so adorable!
Rabbit babies are born weak and fragile. They are as small as your little finger. They require a decent amount of time and care to grow up properly.
One of our readers asked us when the right time to separate the baby rabbits from their mother is. As she wants to gift those little bunnies to her sister.
You can separate baby rabbits from their mother once they are 6 to 8 weeks old. After 6 weeks of age, baby rabbits start weaning and can be separated from their mother.
The whole pregnancy procedure for rabbits lasts for 31 days almost. That’s not a big wait, to be honest. You can make arrangements for the new babies in the meantime.
When Can you Separate Baby Rabbits from Mother?
So in this article, we will tell you about the rabbit’s babies maturing process known as “weaning”. Only when a baby is fully weaned then it can be separated from their mother.
Let us discuss what is weaning.
Weaning is the process in which the kits would be able to finally live on their own. This marks the completion of their growth process and it usually happens within a span of 4 to 6 weeks.
In other words, weaning means the right time to separate the baby rabbits from their mother.
In this article, we broke the weaning process into 3 major periods.
- The birth
- The middle growth period
- The final weaning period
Let us discuss these periods in detail.
By the time little kits are born, they are barely the size of your pinky finger. There are an average of 4 to 5 kits born in a litter.
The initial stage of the babies is tough. Most kits die in the initial stage. There may be multiple reasons for that.
Babies born dead; or weak/deformed should be eliminated at once before they get into contact with other kits.
You should check the kits if they are fed properly. A rabbit mother does not feed her kits at once after birth. She would nurse them hours after it, probably at nightfall.
You may check the kits in the morning and see if their tummy is round and filled. If yes, then they are being fed.
There is another possibility that one or two of the babies are not getting enough milk or they are weakened.
Sometimes a mother rabbit cannot provide enough milk for the kits or there is some sort of blockage on the milk glands, you should contact the vet in that case.
Another thing you will have to look upon is that the kits are safe from cold. The fur on the nest is indeed protection but still, you have to check from time to time if they are covered well.
The more the kits, the more heat they will produce due to their hugging nature. A litter of 2 kits has more mortality and less growth rate than a litter with more kits.
Ensure that the mother rabbit is getting a proper healthy diet. Do not make her overeat too. Also, make sure she does not get into contact with any germs or bacteria.
Keep the nest box clean. A dirty nest will lead the kits to harmful diseases and eye infections that could kill them brutally.
Keep the father rabbit away from the mother rabbit before birth. A rabbit can get pregnant again just after a few hours of giving birth.
It is best that she does not breed until 2 weeks so that the kits can be properly nurtured till until they are weaned.
2 weeks and older:
Now, this is the second stage. In this stage, the babies will open eyes, ears and gain some fur.
You can expect the babies to open their eyes from day 9 to day 11. You have to make sure that the nest box is thoroughly clean as their sensitive eyes can catch an infection.
Since day 5, the kits have started to grow fur and until the 3rd week, they will look like little cotton balls hopping over each other.
The babies will grow continuously and they will be feeding upon their mother’s milk. After the completion of the 2nd week, they will be fed with nibbles of pellets too.
The doe’s milk is enriched in high-level proteins and fat that can boost the kits immune level to a higher level.
The problem arises when some of the baby rabbits could not take much milk because their heavier siblings are much stronger and drink most of the milk.
It is recommended to put a good amount of timothy or alfalfa hay pellets nearby so that if one doesn’t get proper milk it can nibble onto the pellets.
The warmer the kits, the lesser they will put their energies into heat generation. This factor can delay the weaning process too.
The kits will eat more, sleep more and play more as they will be growing up. Let them play out of the nest for a little time if the weather is not that cold.
You can also put away the nest box after the completion of 3rd week.
At their 4th weeks, they can eat hay pellets. They will still be on mother’s feed too. You can also feed the pellets with a mixture of milk, water, and pellets.
Now, this is a crucial period too, as the transition of liquid/soft food to solid food can be very unpredictable. There is a chance of deaths in this period.
The reason behind the death is the intestinal issues. Sometimes the sensitive intestines are not compatible with solid food hence creating diseases or infections.
Try to observe their waste; if it’s liquidy then the food is not matching up with their stomach. Try contacting your vet at once.
Finally, after the completion of 4th week, the kits can be said as weaned.
But it is highly recommended to let the kits stay with their mother till the 8th week.
The weaning period (6th to 8th week)
This is the final period of the baby bunnies’ growth. In this period they tend to eat more of the hay, play outside more and grow fully. For today’s question, When Can you Separate Baby Rabbits from Mother? Baby rabbits can be separated from their mother after 6 weeks of age.
There might be some signs that the kits should be weaned now.
The mother will ignore the kids. She stays away with them.
The mother will be attracted towards the male kits; she will tend to attract them for breeding.
But there are things that should be taken into consideration before letting the kits wean.
The pancreatic development of the kits is completed fully around the 8th week. This lets starch and sugar to absorb into the intestines.
The mother’s feed if given till 7th or 8th week will ensure that the body of kits has received enough antibodies.
Leave the weakest ones to their mother for the whole 8 weeks, while their siblings go out for wean. This will let them get a full dose of mother’s milk.
Tips for weaning the baby rabbits when separated from mother
There are some important points to be kept under consideration while weaning the kits.
Firstly, confirm the gender of the kits. It is highly recommended to put the male and female rabbits separately so that they don’t breed prematurely.
If you do not want a whole team of rabbits, spay and neuter them.
Even same-sex rabbits, if not neutered or spayed can be really aggressive and tough to handle.
De-sexed rabbits are more friendly and playful than aggressive sexual ones.
Check out for their teeth, if they have “wolf teeth” then they may be at risk of swollen gums in the future. Do not sell them for breeding.
The aging and weaning process is a tough one but every good thing comes with a little bit of hardship. These little bunnies will surely prove as good pets and gifts.
So we hope that now you know when the time to separate the baby rabbits from their mother is. Try your instincts too and look out for the aspects.