Raising baby rabbits is a lot of fun. They do need special care, however, in order to thrive. You don't have much time to prepare for the birth. Rabbits give birth between 28 and 32 days after being bred. It is best to be prepared ahead of time.
You'll need a nestbox. You can get them at the feed store or from a rabbit supply store. Some are metal with a removable bottom. Others are made of wood. They even make wire ones that you can put in replaceable cardboard sides and bottom.
Don't use a litter box or a cardboard box. Litter boxes don't have a tall enough entryway to keep the kits inside. Cardboard is likely to be shredded by the doe.
A few days before your doe is due, place the nestbox in her cage. Do not put it over the corner she uses as a bathroom or she'll just mess in the box. Fill the box loosely with hay.
It is fascinating to watch the doe make her nest with the hay. She will pick up mouthfuls of hay and tuck it into the nestbox until there is a nice rounded hole in there just right for her baby rabbits.
Before they are born, she will start pulling fur from her belly and dewlap to line the nest with. This fur keeps the babies nice and warm.
Most rabbits will not have their babies while anyone is watching, but occasionally one won't mind as long as she is left alone. Baby rabbits are born without any fur. Their eyes and ears are closed. They look a bit like a fat sausage with legs and ears.
The doe will clean each kit off after it is born and eat the placenta. Sometimes there may be little bits left that need to be cleaned out of the nest, but usually she does a pretty good job all on her own.
After the litter is born, the doe will pull more fur to put on top of the babies. Soon, they are buried in a nice warm sea of fur. It is important to check the babies every day. Sometimes one will die and need to be removed or there may be part of a placenta that needs to be cleaned up.
The doe will not abandon her babies if you check them out. She is familiar with you. Don't be surprised that the kits jump about when you touch them. This is normal. When the doe jumps in to feed them, they jump about to find a nipple for nursing. Just be sure when you're done checking them to cover them up with fur again.
Don't worry that the doe doesn't spend a lot of time sitting with her kits. This is normal. Rabbit milk is very high in calories. The doe will feed her babies once or twice per day, covering them up afterwards. Occasionally, you'll find a doe that feeds more frequently. Whatever works for that doe and her babies is fine.
If one of the baby rabbits ends up outside of the nestbox, just put them back in. Sometimes they are still attached to their mother when she hops out of the box, so they get taken along.
By the time the babies are a week old, they will be covered in fur. The bunnies will have a little better control of their movements by this time. By two weeks of age, their eyes and ears are open and they are cuter than ever.
Between two and three weeks of age, the babies start learning how to get in and out of the nestbox. The nestbox can be removed once the babies spend more time out of the box than in it. They will start nibbling the pellets and hay that their mother eats and learn to drink water from her water bottle or crock.
The baby rabbits can be weaned between the ages of 6 and 8 weeks. They can stay together until about 3 months old. At this age, you can put all the bucks together and all the does together. If you don't know how to sex your rabbits, flip one over in your lap. Gently display the genital area. Bucks have a sheath with a hole in the tip. Does look like they have a fold.
Eventually, you'll want to separate all the baby rabbits into their own cages. They can go to new homes after they have adapted to weaning.
Top of Page---> Baby Rabbits
Return to Rabbit Care
Return to Home Page---> Rabbit Cages and Hutches