Why is my Rabbit Eating her Babies?
Watching a mother caress her children is probably one of the best sights one could see. Be it animals or humans, a mother is still a mother.
There are loads of examples out there that show us how great motherly instincts these animals have. It makes you wonder about Mother Nature.
But sometimes, there are things you wish you would never have seen. Recently one of our readers posted a terrible statement.
“I don’t know how to say this. My doe gave birth to 5 beautiful baby bunnies. They all looked fine and healthy. Then after some time, I saw her ate, one of her babies. She ate the baby rabbit and its feet were all that’s left behind. The next day she ate another one. I’m so worried about the life of other kits. What should I do?”
Mother rabbit can eat her babies because of anxiety, lack of food, baby rabbit born dead, fear of unknown human, the resemblance of the placenta and a small nest.
So in this article, we will tell you about the nature of mother rabbits and what should be done in order to avoid her eating her little ones.
- 1 Why is my Rabbit Eating her Babies?
- 1.1 The kits are weak:
- 1.2 The baby is born dead:
- 1.3 The resemblance to Placenta:
- 1.4 The mother has anxiety:
- 1.5 Fear of unknown humans:
- 1.6 More babies, lesser milk:
- 1.7 The mother is not mature enough:
- 1.8 The resemblance to mice/hamster:
- 1.9 Lack of food:
- 1.10 Less space of nest box:
- 1.11 Baby Rabbits may be injured:
- 1.12 Absence of motherly instincts:
- 2 How to prevent the mother rabbit from eating her kits?
Why is my Rabbit Eating her Babies?
We have been receiving emails regularly about today’s question. Many fellows are concerned that sometimes the mother rabbit. Well, there could be multiple reasons for this. Some of these are explained below.
The kits are weak:
Sometimes the mother rabbit will eat the kits if they are too weak to survive. It is more like putting a stop to its suffering.
A mother will know whether if one of the newborns is infected. She would eat it up just to save her other kits from being infected or dying.
The baby is born dead:
Not all the babies that are born are equally healthy. Some may be born with some deficiency or maybe even incomplete.
The rabbit mother then most probably eats it. This may be happening because the smell of dead kit could attract predators nearby. This is one of the most common reasons for a mother rabbit to eat her babies.
The resemblance to Placenta:
In some cases, the mother rabbit will think of the baby as placenta. The rabbit mother eats the placenta and afterbirth rights after all babies are born.
This mother rabbit eats the placenta and after birth, because it is enriched with nutrients that will fulfill her energy wasted during birth.
The mother has anxiety:
Rabbits are fearful creatures. When there are predators around the level of fear and anxiety increases in them.
This can lead to the mother rabbit eating her kids up. She will do this to save her self from the possible attack of wild animals.
In simple words, she knows she can make more babies but she cannot have another life.
Fear of unknown humans:
This might probably happen to wild rabbits. Sometimes if a human makes contact with the babies it will make the mother furious.
Rabbits are not friendly as they might seem and if you are not his friend and you touch her kids she will eat them. Or worse abandon them to die.
More babies, lesser milk:
A doe mother can give birth to up to 12 babies (most no. of babies recorded ever). If the babies are more in number than it would be much difficult to fill the bellies of all of them.
So the first thing she would do is abandon the kits, or maybe one or two. Then if she still feels exhausted then she will eat the young ones to increase her energy level.
The baby kits are enriched with nutrition and it will give their mother efficient energy.
The mother is not mature enough:
This happens when the mother is not ready to have babies yet. A mother is considered mature when her age is more than six months.
If a rabbit goes pregnant before 6 months, there is no guarantee that she will take good care of the kits. Another possibility can be the birth of unhealthy kits.
It is most likely that she will eat all the kits out of curiosity as she will not be able to understand what has come out of her.
She may also abandon them to die or not feed them at all. But in most cases, the next litter would be safe.
A doe might take care of her litter the next time or after the second time.
If she still eats her kits after 3 litters than you should at once stop her from further breeding and de-sex her. Some female rabbits are best not to be made moms.
The resemblance to mice/hamster:
This may sound odd but yes it happens especially when the doe is immature. She might think that the little babies are hamsters or mice.
This could make her kill off some or all the babies. An immature doe is such a disaster sometimes.
Lack of food:
It is very necessary to check if the doe mother is eating properly. She may give up eating pellets some days prior to pregnancy.
Not eating pellets and just nibbling on hay can make her weak. This can complicate the birthing process too.
Giving birth requires a lot of energy. The mother will waste most of her energy doing it. If she gets nothing to eat she will eat the litter.
Less space of nest box:
If you have given a smaller box for nesting and the kits are more and bigger then there might be a problem.
Smaller space will be irritating for the mother doe. She could eat one or two to make space for others. Give them a bigger spacious box so that every kit gets a proper space.
Baby Rabbits may be injured:
It is common for kits to be injured when they are born. If the injury is fatal then quite possibly the mother would eat them.
Another possible injury can happen if the mother’s nails are long and sharp. They might injure the soft babies and lead to their death or their momma eating them.
Absence of motherly instincts:
If your doe is immature and eats her kits, it doesn’t mean she would do it every time. She might be a responsible mother next time.
But if she continues to eat her litter even after three times, then she simply lacks motherhood. It is best for her to not be a mother ever again.
How to prevent the mother rabbit from eating her kits?
There are certain things that you can do to avoid these killings.
Feed the mother rabbit properly:
As discussed before, a mother doe loses much of her energy during the birth process. She needs to be properly fed with a good diet two times a day.
It is recommended to feed her with fresh food. You may give her sunflower seeds that are highly rich in fat and it will help her produce more milk. For today’s question, Why is my Rabbit Eating her Babies? This is a must.
If the mother is not producing enough milk then contact your local vet at once.
In addition to these, you can also give her some parsley (organic) that will boost her energy. Calf manna and alfalfa would suit her needs too.
Keep the doe indoors:
If you want your doe to not go crazy out of fear of wild animals or other pets nearby then keep her indoors where she feels safe.
Do not disturb her. Make sure you do not play loud music nearby. She would want to deliver her kits peacefully without any fear or anxiety about predator attacks.
Breed a mature doe:
It is highly recommended that you let a mature doe breed. Six months of age is considered to be okay. Less than that could result in frustrated mommas.
A matured doe will take care of her kits and she would not abandon them.
If the doe, whether she is mature or immature still eats her kits 3 times then it is best to spay her.
Look after the kits:
It is your responsibility to look after the kits when their mother goes to them. You must intervene if she tries to eat her babies.
You can also separate her from the kits and then make her meet them at a specific time under your surveillance. Do this more than one time if kits are really week.
If one of the kits dies, carefully separate it from the others. If one of them falls off, put it back into the nest box.
Clip her nails:
To avoid any injury, it is best to clip the doe’s nails before birth. You don’t want to make the little ones cry out in pain.
Bigger nest box:
Provide the mother doe with a nest box that has plenty of room for all her kits. A nest box should be safe and fall-proof.
So these are the possible reasons why a doe mother will eat her babies. A rabbit falls into the prey category. They think that everyone wants to kill them and they must find a way to survive. In this survival spree, she can do such horrible things out of fear and anxiety.
We have told you a few solutions. Work on them. It is best to neuter your doe if she keeps on killing more than 2 or 3 times and try breeding another doe.
We hope that you would not experience this brutal scene ever again. Be safe and love your pets.
- Why rabbits dig holes?
- Is your Bunny Happy?
- What Can Rabbits Chew on for their Teeth
- What to Feed Baby Rabbits Without a Mother?
- When do Baby Bunnies Leave the Nest?
- When Can you Separate Baby Rabbits from Mother?
- What to Put in Bottom of Rabbit Cage?
- 10 Causes of Diarrhea in Rabbits
- Why is My Rabbit Biting Me?