Newborn Wild Rabbits! What to do.....

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by youngjedi32002, May 6, 2011.

  1. youngjedi32002

    youngjedi32002 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am hoping someone here will have an answer for me. Two kids from down the street informed me yesterday that they found a nest of abandoned animals and took them in. Their father took a picture, went to a vet, and asked what they were and the vet said they were baby wild rabbits. They are newborns and are so young they can't even stand and their eyes are still shut. These kids were feeding them with an eye dropper. Then today, I saw they out in the field across from my house putting them back in the nest! I asked what they were doing and they said their parents told them to put them back so their mother could take care of them. Yesterday they told me their dog killed the mother, which is why they took them! It is impossible to get a straight answer from them and I am very frustrated! But I am more worried about these babies than angry! I am willing to take them and raise them until they can hop off on their own but I have read conflicting info off the internet and trust the people I have met here! Does anyone have any advice for me? I stay at home, I have a dog cat, rabbit, chickens, hamster, cages, etc. I am pretty qualified and definitely willing and able! Should I? Should I leave them out there and see if maybe the kids' dog didn't kill the mother and she comes back for them? Will she care for them after they have been handled (a lot!)? Help!!!
     
  2. Nikkumz

    Nikkumz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    kepp them in the nest till tomorrow morning, go check them shortly after dawn, if they are warm and thier tummys look bloated, leave them, if not take them in. Momma rabbits only feed thier babies twice a day, right after sunset and shortly before dawn. If you check them around 7 or 8 ish, you may even catch momma. She will only stay with them for 5 to 10 minutes to feed them then watches them from a distance throughout the day. If they arent being fed, take them in, get a Very small eye dropper or like the type that baby vitamins come with and KMR, kitten milk replacer, in the mean time look for a about to pop pregnant rabbit or one that just had babies. They will need a foster mommy soon, the momma rabbits begin to feed the babies thier cecotropes, which are thier nightly droppings. It holds very important nutrients and vitamins for the babies.
     
  3. youngjedi32002

    youngjedi32002 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the info! I will check them tomorrow morning when I let my chickens out of the coop, around 7:30-8:00. I will check tummies and hopefully they will be full! If they are not warm and full, I will take them. I can keep them in my rabbit hutch. There is a room that is shut off from the rest. I use it for storage but I can easily make a little nest in there instead. I have a 3 year old neutered male lop-eared rabbit. Could he possibly be a foster dad or will he hurt them? His hutch is HUGE! I don't know anybody with pregnant rabbits around but we have a community farm here in our town. I am know they have rabbits there and maybe I could work something out with them!
     
  4. Nikkumz

    Nikkumz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh ya, dont put them in with a male! Although hes not the father, he may still try to eat them. Males are not ever in the picture when it comes to rabbits except to do the deed. I wish you were closer to me, i have two females that just had babies about two weeks ago! Do you have like a cat kennel or something? OR just a rubbermaid tub? or even a chick brooder? The heat lamp will help them stay warm, but keep them in a small space where they can huddle up and keep warm, i lost two babies due to getting out of their 'huddle' and freezing.
     
  5. youngjedi32002

    youngjedi32002 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's funny you ask about a chick brooder! I do have a brooder, all set up, because I have an incubator with 4 eggs due to hatch any second! It is day 22 though and I am a little worried about them! I am not losing hope but I do have a place for these babies where no harm will come to them! I wasn't going to put them in with the male now but I thought, if I do take them, when they get a little bigger and their eyes open up, perhaps they could hang out together in the giant hutch. Oh, no, I am starting to talk like they are already moving in......I wish you were closer too!
     
  6. Nikkumz

    Nikkumz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    LOL, he may still try to attack them, and they can get pregnant at a VERY young age, i wouldnt put them together, but thats just me. I have my one male in his own hutch and myt two mommas in one big 8' by 4' cage/run with nesting boxes and thier 11 babies.lol .....And about the chicks...i didnt have anything happen with my eggs till day 23! So be patient and good luck with them! Ive heard it can take till day 25 even
     
  7. youngjedi32002

    youngjedi32002 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, my rabbit is neutered so extra bunnies would not be forthcoming! Sometimes I think he must be lonely all by himself in his bunny mansion but that's probably just me wanting another rabbit! LOL

    I will post and let you all know what happened with the babies in the field! Hopefully they will be warm and full and I can stop worrying about them! Hopefully my brooder will house chicks soon!
     
  8. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    Do not put them with any other rabbit. Rabbits are territorial and they do not have any instinct for nurturing young. The only time a doe will take care of young is when the hormones tell her to and even then care as far as a rabbit is concerned is just giving them milk once or twice a day and ignoring them. Even if they don't purposely attack them adults can easily hop over and step on or I saw a doe slit a kit's throat on accident with a back toe nail.

    Rabbits do not abandon their nests if the kits are handled so if the mother is alive and hasn't given up on her kits being there since they've been gone for awhile she will go back to taking care of them. You can cover the nest in a few sticks and check to see if the sticks are disturbed and the kits are not wrinkly looking.

    Rabbits are very hard to handfeed. Even domestics often die and trained wildlife rehabbers do not have an amazing survival rate. Personally I prefer goat kid formula mixed to double concentration over kmr. KMR is designed for carnivorous cats who feed their young every hour or 2 not herbivorous bunnies who feed only once or twice a day. Rabbit milk is extremely rich and thick to keep the kits alive on so little feeding. If you are using KMR you should look up a recipe online that includes other ingredients or they will slowly starve to death. Get a 1cc or small diabetic syringe from a vet or pharmacy, if it has an attached needle just cut it off, and an eye dropper. Start out placing one drop at a time between the lips and letting them lick it off. This may take a half hour or so the first time but eventually they will learn to suck. Warm the milk to a bit above skin temperature. A rabbit's body temperature is higher than a human's and they will not eat cold milk. I had to keep the milk on a warmer plate or I had to microwave it between every kit because they are very exact on the temperature and will stop eating if it cools below body temp. Do not feed a kit until it is warm. They must be warm to digest milk and will die with full bellies if you they are not warm enough and the milk is not warm enough. You may need to give them 2 large feedings and 1 or 2 small feedings. Do not feed too much too often or they will die because they are only designed for 1-2 feedings a day. Unfortunately no milk substitute quite reaches the level of real rabbit milk so a little extra may be required to get them between large feedings. If they survive to when their eyes and ears start opening be extremely quiet and careful around them. A normal human voice can actually send a wild rabbit in to a heart attack. At this point they will need probiotics. Normally they would eat their mother's droppings and her milk would change to help promote growth of digestive tract bacteria needed to digest solid food. Since that isn't happening they need something like bene bac or acidophilus pellets. The kits love bene bac gel or you can mix the powder in to their milk. Do this for several days before offering some rabbit pellets soaked in formula. Slowly wean them on to the pellets and start leaving hay and fresh forages like older grasses, raspberry or strawberry leaves, and dandelion leaves for them to nibble on. Do not feed fruits or vegetables which will be too low in fiber and too high in sugar.

    rabbit talk forums have a thread with tips on raising kits http://rabbittalk.com/tips-for-handraising-kits-t2486.html . Most info for domestics will apply to wild cottontails.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2011
  9. youngjedi32002

    youngjedi32002 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I thank you all for your advice and the great info. But, sadly, all the babies died. I went out at 6am, when I let my chickens out, and they were in their nest, except one that had apparently tried to crawl out, and they were all expired. I am really mad at myself. I knew putting them out there was wrong and it seems it was their death sentence. They had gotten use to the warmth in the kids' house and forgot, I guess, that they needed to huddle together. If anything comes of this, I hope the kids learned that you just can't disturb nature so you can play mommy and then, when it gets too much, put them back and stop playing. It isn't a game and I hope they learned that. I should have never let them put the bunnies back. I should have taken them. At least I would have put in the time and effort and made sure they made it to adulthood. They were strong and healthy. I'm sure it weakened them greatly to be in a house, all cozy, and the kids were feeding them regular milk. Ugh. I just keep kicking myself. I gave my rabbit extra carrots today......
     
  10. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    Having watched kits die slowly of starvation from handfeeding I really would not feel so bad about their rather quick death. Personally if I ever get kits that lose their mom at day 1 again I'm putting them down. Unless you have another doe with kits the other option is potentially a horrible, long drawn out, torturous death and an extremely sad thing to see. I'll handfeed some slightly older ones and I've given supplemental feedings to small kits but never again am I starting very young kits on 100% handfed with no natural rabbit milk. I think they are better off with a quick humane death.
     

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