The best time to separate baby rabbits (or kits) from their mother is when they’re between 6 and 8 weeks old.
When kits turn 6 weeks old, they can eat adult rabbit food and can survive without their mothers.
However, some kits may need more support. So, it’s safe to wait till they’re 8 weeks old before you separate them.
Therefore, this article discusses the significance of this age, how to go about the process, and other related aspects.
It also discusses what weaning is and its significance in the process.
Why You Shouldn’t Separate Baby Rabbits from Their Mother Until They’re of Age
It’s best to wait until baby rabbits are about 8 weeks old before you separate them from their mother.
This is because the mother’s feed provides their bodies with essential antibodies to stay healthy.
In addition to that, kits’ pancreatic development is complete when they’re about 8 weeks old.
So, their intestines can effectively absorb sugar and starch.
Separating them too early could cause digestive problems. Moreover, it may lead to high levels of stress that could potentially kill the baby rabbit.
How to Separate Baby Rabbits from Their Mother
This process is necessary because the mothers can pose a risk to the kits.
In some cases, mothers accidentally injure the kits with their nails, killing them in the process.
On the other hand, they may intentionally kill weaker ones to produce more milk for the stronger kits.
So, you should get started on it right away. Here’s what you must do.
Step 1. Start Weaning Kits
You should keep the separation process in mind the moment the kits are born. That’s why weaning is important.
It is the process of getting the kits accustomed to foods other than their mother’s milk.
Weaning also allows the kits to become socially independent.
Place Pellets in the Cage
Weaning typically starts when the kits are between 2 and 4 weeks old.
So, you can expect the weaning process to last about 4 to 6 weeks.
During this time, don’t try to force any drastic changes to the kits’ environment.
Instead, place pellets in the cage for the kits to consume if they’re not getting enough milk from their mother.
Monitor Kits Eating Habits
Make sure to monitor their eating habits and health closely. Kits digestive systems take time to develop completely.
Therefore, consuming too much food can cause diarrhea.
As the kits age, they’ll also start to drink water from their mother’s water bowl.
Also, if you used a nest box for the kits, you should remove it at this point. Nest boxes can cause eye infections in young rabbits.
Step 2. Check If Your Baby Rabbits Are Ready for Separation
Separating baby rabbits from their mothers can be a stressful process for them.
You’ll have to approach it with care and ensure that each change is gradual. You could even kill them if you don’t handle it well.
That is also why you have to be sure that they’re ready for it. So, there are some signs that can indicate that.
The Baby Rabbits Are Eating Adult Rabbit Food
The best indication is when baby rabbits are nibbling on solid food like alfalfa and hay often.
In addition to that, they may frequently be sipping water from their mother’s water bowl.
In that case, the kits no longer need to consume their mother’s milk.
The Baby Rabbits Look Healthy
You’ll notice that some baby rabbits look physically healthier than other ones in the first few weeks of birth.
So, that means that you shouldn’t simply go by the age to separate them from their mothers.
Instead, you should monitor each kit’s physical health as they near closer to 6 or 8 weeks of age.
Look at Its Body
On a healthy kit, you’ll find quite a bit of fur all over it.
In addition to that, there should be no signs of bleeding or infection in the eyes, ears, and teeth.
Look at Its Behavior
You should also pay close attention to each kit’s behavior too.
A healthy kit will be jumping about, filled with energy, and generally active.
Some signs of poor physical health at that age are lethargy and inactiveness.
In that case, let your kit stay with its mother until it gets healthier. You can monitor the
The Mother Is Staying Away from the Baby Rabbits
Instinctively, mother rabbits start to stay away from their kits when they turn 6 weeks old. Rabbits typically mate often.
So, the mother rabbits may head over to the male rabbits when their children are starting to become independent.
If you notice all the factors above, it’s time to separate the kits from their mothers.
Step 3. Remove the Mother to Another Cage
Now, the best way to separate the kits is to move the mother to another cage. As mentioned above, the separation process can be stressful for kits.
So, you should let them stay in a familiar environment to minimize the separation stress. In addition to that, handling them too much can also result in stress.
High levels of stress can cause a disease called Enterotoxemia. This disease is a type of blood poisoning and can be fatal to kits if untreated.
What happens is that increasing stomach bacteria releases toxins that cause the poisoning. So, you should be careful with how you approach separating the kits.
Therefore, place the mother in another cage.
Make sure that the cage has new bedding, water, and food. In addition to that, transfer the weaker kits that are still weaning with their mother in the new cage.
Step 4. Care for the Separated Baby Rabbits
Separated baby rabbits will need a lot of care soon after being away from their mother.
The rabbits can get stressed very easily. So, you’ll have to take every measure possible to limit that.
Some things you can do are as follows.
Limit the Amount of Stress They Can Experience
Make sure your kits’ cage is in a quiet room. Loud and abrupt noises can quickly stress your rabbits.
In addition to that, there should be minimal stimuli in the room. So, don’t let other pets or children get close to the baby rabbits’ cage.
Keep the Cage Clean
Keeping the cage clean can prevent the baby rabbits from contracting any disease.
So, remove uneaten food, clean their bedding if they’ve gone to the bathroom in it, and clean their water bowls.
Remove the nest box from the cage to prevent eye infections. Moreover, replacing the bedding weekly and ensure the kits have toys to stay active.
Keep Them on a Nutritious Diet
A healthy diet will ensure that your baby rabbits grow into healthy adults. Moreover, it can prevent digestion problems as they adjust to an adult diet.
So, stick to a diet that they had when they were in their mother’s cage. Alfalfa and hay are the best to get them used to a solid diet.
They’ll already be used to these foods, reducing the chances of diarrhea.
Closely monitor their digestive health in the following especially. Also, make sure they have access to clean, fresh water at all times.
Identify the Sex of the Kits
You should identify the sex of the baby rabbits as soon as possible. These creatures can mate prematurely.
So, knowing the sex can help you avoid that by keeping them apart.
You can tell if a kit is male by looking between its back legs. You’ll find a pair of pale pink testicles there.
On the other hand, you can identify a female by a slit at the end of a protrusion toward the back.
It’s in your best interest to have a vet determine the sex of the rabbit.
Getting the sex right is important for caring for them at this point and in the future. So, don’t rely on your knowledge to identify it.
You can then keep male and female kits separately to avoid mating after separating them from their mothers.
Get the Kits Teeth Checked
After separating your kits from their mother, you’ll need to monitor their oral health.
This way, you can ensure that they’re staying healthy even after the change in diet.
So, you should take your baby rabbits to the vet for a dental check-up. The vet can check for a condition called wolf teeth.
This condition can affect the gums and cause them to swell.
Last Few Words
Baby rabbits can eventually make great pets as they age. However, it’s vital that you take good care of them when they’re young.
One aspect of that is separating them from their mothers through a gradual process.
At the same time, you should examine their reactions to every bit of change. You can then determine what further steps to take based on that information.
Moreover, these creatures are small and highly susceptible to cold and disease, so you should take monitoring seriously.
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