Baby-eating rabbit- we now have 4 orphans


9 Years
Mar 11, 2010
claremont, NH
We have a lionhead doe that we have bred three times, and she eats her babies every time. This litter we saved. We have four babies now, motherless. We have been feeding them fresh goat milk twice a day and they have been eating well and peeing and pooping fine. They are almost three days old. We are not breeding the doe anymore, unless there is a way to fix it. Am I doing everything right for the babies? Is there anything to do about the mom other than sell her? We are new to breeding rabbits.
sorry to hear about the trouble you're having .
Usually a doe will eat her babies if she's stressed out or feels that her babies are threatened . Is she getting enough privacy when she's giving birth? does she have a quiet place .. nest box have them? Is she being left alone afterwards so she can relax and tend her babies? Is she doing everything else okay? pulling hair,making a nest?
i hope she hasn't just gotten in the habit after the first time with this behavior!
If you do sell her off make sure that whoever buys her knows what she has done and that she's NOT breeding stock .
Be sure to use a warm wet cloth on the babies behinds after they eat, to simulate what the doe would do for them if she were tending them herself.Other than that i can't think of anything that you need to do as long as the vet says the goat's milk is sufficient nutrition for them. When we had a litter to raise we always used the canned milk for kittens ,puppies , etc. but we had great success with bunnies .
I would not breed this doe again unless she is REALLY something special, and even then I would never breed her without breeding another more reliable doe at the same time that could possibly foster the babies if the wooly went psycho again.

Four times is a bad track record. You may even have bad luck with her daughters in this area, but only time will tell.

MHWC gave you good advice on caring for the babies. Good luck! I've never had success hand raising a litter from day one.
I had the same problem with a Dutch doe. The first litter she had she rejected them. I would take her out of the cage and hold her down and let the babies nurse. She did not care for it much, but the babies did great. I did not lose one of them. I weaned them at around 4 weeks though once they were eating solid food. Like the others said I would not breed her again if this isn't the first time she has neglected her babies.
Hi, I rescue, cottontails and orphaned bunnies.
You are doing great with the babies, but the goats milk will not have the nutrition that they need to survive and thrive. Here is a recipe I use to raise babies successfully. Mix 1 can of goats milk and 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream together and keep it in a small jar in the fridge. Warm it up and dropper feed them, but be careful not to over feed. When the kits are about a week old, get some fresh cecotropes from one of your other rabbits, and mix them up with distilled or well water to make a milky chocolatey looking smoothy for them. They will not survive without the cecotropes. Mix about 1/4 tsp. (or a few drops) into their formula, and give it to them every day. I have also added a teaspoon of plain yogurt to their formula after warming it up in a hot water dish. (Don't use the microwave as it will destroy the good bacteria.)Without the cecotropes they will not be able to digest their food. If you have any questions feel free to PM me and I'll be happy to help the best I can. If you were nearby I'd raise them for you. I adore them. Also, get the mother rabbit neutered, as it is likely she may be too high strung to raise her own kits. It is hard to change a behavior like bunnies eating their young. She might make a good pet for someone, rather than breeding stock.
Good luck with your babies! I hopd this helps. Let me know how they are doing.
Thank you All! The mother is in a smaller hutch with a nice nest box, and up till about a week ago she was alowed to hop around a play-yard we got for them. The fist two times she made a nice nest about an hour before she had them. This time, she started to pull out her fur after they were born. I have never have a normal batch of bunnies. She is a lionhead. The babys are drinking about a half eye dropper or a little more... then they pee right after. They are getting fur and moving around alot.
I will add some of the stuff in the milk in the post before and see how they do. They are in a small basket with hay and rabbit fur, and are just in a 65-70 degree room. Is that OK?
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I use goat formula rather than actual goat milk and mix it to twice the concentration listed for goat kids. So far it's worked very well on cottontails.

Did the kits get any milk from the doe? They need colostrum or they will have no immunity to illness. The doe only produces colostrum for I think 48hours. In horses I know it's only for the first 6 hours but rabbits may not feed their kits for the first day or so. There are dried colostrum products for larger livestock but I don't know their usefulness in rabbits. Rabbit milk also changes as the kits age which you cannot reproduce through formula. I would try to get them to nurse off the doe instead. You can hold her over the babies to let them nurse or there are instructions online how to turn a doe upside down and get her to relax so the kits can get milk but at the moment I can't find it. You also might want to see if you can find another rabbit breeder with a doe who has kits of a similar age to foster them out. If it's at all possible it would be best to get them to nurse from a doe. Even if you do everything right they will not be as healthy on formula and some may still die.
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