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Caring for domestic baby rabbits

Domestic rabbits that are cared for by their human owners are very comfortable with human contact. However, on becoming a mum, your rabbit is likely to become very territorial and protective of their babies. On the lead up to the birth, ensure the hutch is warm enough with soft hay, to make the doe as comfortable as possible; you will not get much chance once the babies are born. Rabbits are extremely good mothers and although may seem reliant on human care, they are more than capable of raising their babies.

Handling the babies should be avoided as much as possible during their first weeks of life, however checking the hutch is essential. Once the doe has given birth, give her a treat to momentarily distract her, as it is important to check the litter. Gently lift the fur to check for dead babies, rabbits give birth to an average of 8 babies at once, however it is likely that some will be stillborn or not survive long. The hay in the hutch also needs to be cleared, particularly if wet or dirty. Dead babies and damp hay can leave the other rabbits open to infection, illness and in particularly flies.

In the first week or two, mother rabbit should be kept fairly warm and given fresh water daily. Good, soft, fresh hay should also be supplied along with additional food such as fresh vegetables. The babies will feed from their mother for ten to fourteen days usually, and once the babies begin to wean away from their mother, additional vegetable pet supplies should be stopped as the babies will become ill if they eat this. Once the babies begin to wander around on their own and feed themselves, they can be put into their own cages. It is a good idea to move them gradually, rather than take all babies away from their mother at once.

Fostering of rabbits is also very successful as they respond very well to it. If you have more than one doe and one has more babies than the other, then you can take several away to give to the other doe. This makes both rabbits happy and also eases the responsibility for the mother.

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