Can Rabbits Drink Milk? Why Or Why Not

If you are wondering “can rabbits drink milk” you are likely trying to raise young rabbits or you have found a sick rabbit and you are trying to nurse it back to health.

Rabbits are natural herbivores and after they hit about 4 weeks of age they should NEVER drink dairy products. It could cause gastrointestinal issues like loose stool or even cause them to become ill.

Rabbits grow up really quickly and there is only one season of life when rabbits should drink milk. That is the age when they are still nursing from the mother rabbit and that is it.

can rabbits drink milk intro image

While it is the same across the board let me be clear that I am talking about domestic rabbits not wild rabbits you may find in your yard. Wild rabbits have a much faster timeline than domestic rabbits and you may think you found abandoned wild babies you may not have.

You likely will not see the mother around because her natural instinct is to stay away from the nest to not attract predators. If you do find a nest or an orphaned baby rabbit that is not looking healthy you can search for a wildlife rehabber.

At What Age Can Rabbits Drink Milk?

If you have adult rabbits and you have had a litter your new baby bunnies are going to drink their mother’s milk fully for the first 2.5 – 3 weeks of life. Then between two and three weeks old the doe will start to not nurse the kits as often. Which encourages them to look for other more solid food.

After three weeks old it is VERY important that they start learning to eat solid foods and start drinking water.

Three week old rabbit drinking water

What To Do If You Lost The Mother Rabbit

Hopefully, this never happens but if you lost the mother rabbit you can get a kitten milk replacer which is going to be the best choice and has the closest nutritional value that your young rabbits need.

Whiskies kitten milk is the brand that works best for me. If you want to use something else I have heard goat’s milk does well.

I will also say the best milk formula for newborn baby rabbits is the premade liquid special formula and not in powder form. Anything you have to add warm water to is not going to be thick enough to “stick to their bones” as it were. When you think about it rabbits only nurse once or twice a day, unlike most other animals. So they need to be able to survive for long periods of time without eating.

So when you need to feed baby rabbits the best thing you can do is to feed them something that is as close to natural rabbit milk as possible.

4 week old french lop rabbits

Other Milks To Not Feed Your Rabbit

Do not feed any milk that is not made from a real animal. Almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or any other alternative “milk products” will not do anything good for your rabbit and they will lose body weight too fast to the point of not being able to save them.

Cow milk is another kind of milk that should be avoided because of how different cow’s milk is from bunny milk.

What If Your Baby Rabbits Are Not Getting Fed

There are a number of reasons why your baby rabbits are not getting fed but it could be that your female rabbit’s milk production is low or she simply doesn’t know what to do. If your doe is getting into the box and letting the young bunnies nurse but you are still finding them looking skinny she is probably not making enough milk.

You can choose to hand feed the rabbits that are falling behind, foster out the kits to another doe, or try to get her milk up by giving her electrolytes for livestock. Add about half a teaspoon into an 18 oz bottle of water shake it well and add that amount to her water bottle or bowl and top the waterer.

If you think your kits are not getting fed make sure to read this post.

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Can baby rabbits drink milk?

Yes, baby rabbits under the age of 3 weeks old can drink milk but once they are at this age you should be providing plenty of fresh water for them to drink. By now their mother has started to naturally ween them and it is completely normal for kits to be eating solid fresh foods by 4 weeks old.

If you see a baby bunny seeking a nursing session it is simply because the doe either does not feel like pushing them away or she is still breaking the habit because seeing momma pretty much equals food to them.

How To Feed Milk To Newborn Rabbits

If you need to hand-feed rabbits you are going to have to use a sterile oral syringe and feed it to them as if they are nursing. You can’t just put it in a bowl and hold it in front of them. The rabbits won’t know what to do.

Holding a baby rabbit if you have to hand-feed it.

They will likely try to squirm away from you the first time or two. But some may catch on that this “food” makes them not hungry anymore they should be more likely to drink it. But it can still be a lot of work to get baby rabbits to drink milk.

While a doe typically feeds once or twice a day you will probably have to try feeding more often because baby rabbits are often willing to eat from their mother but not so much by hand feeding. You probably will not get as much milk down them on your own. Feeding them so they have a nice round belly is best.

baby rabbit with a round belly

What Can Rabbits Drink Besides Water

If they are over 4 weeks old. Nothing. DO NOT give your rabbit anything else except clean water.

 Why Milk Is Bad For Rabbits

Rabbits should never be given milk because it can make them very sick and when rabbits go down they go down hard and fast. Milk and other dairy products contain lactose which is difficult for rabbits to digest and can cause severe digestive upset in these animals. Giving them loose stool which is very hard to cure in rabbits can be deadly.

One of the best things you can give your rabbit is fresh water on a daily basis. The amount of water your rabbit drinks will depend on their diet – hay-based diets need more water than a pellet-based diet. You may also provide occasional small amounts (I’m talking once a month or even less) of fresh vegetables like carrots as treats or snacks for your rabbit.

Adult rabbits, like other mammals, are lactose intolerant and cannot efficiently digest the primary protein found in dairy products. Consistent consumption of dairy products by rabbits can lead to gut complications such as gastrointestinal (GI) stasis.

While it may seem like providing them with milk would make them healthy; unfortunately, it can actually do much more harm than good so it is best to avoid giving rabbits milk at all costs!

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Most Rabbits Do Not Like Anything Added To Their Water

When a doe has had her litter or the weather has been extremely hot I will add electrolytes to their water. I will dilute it much more than the recommended amount and even still some rabbits don’t like even the slightest amount of change in the smell of their water.

It is best to give your rabbit water only to avoid any health problems. If you have a nest of baby rabbits it is best for them to drink milk from their mother or another rabbit but if you have to supplement with another type of milk kitten milk is always the best option and what I have used for over a decade.

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