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Fostering kits (baby rabbits) can be tricky.
When baby rabbits need fed it needs to be done quickly and you don’t always have a mamma that fits the needs of the babies.
I hope you never have to deal with fostering kits but if you do it is good to have an idea of how to handle the situation.
Fostering baby rabbits to a different mother is not as scary as it sounds. But you also have to remember that if they don’t get fed the baby rabbits won’t make it anyway. So it’s worth the try.
Top Reasons To Foster Kits
There can be so many reasons why you might need to foster kits to another mom. The most common….. Well, let’s just say she was not super nice to her babies. If she damaged (badly by eating, biting, or killing them) them on purpose then definitely find a foster mom.
She may not have produced enough milk. Her litter could have been abnormally large. Or maybe she chose not to feed the litter. It is sad but can happen.
When Not To Foster
The only time you should not try to foster babies is if they put the foster momma’s babies at risk. If the mother died for no explainable reason or if the babies seem sick.
Check the babies over for wounds or discharge from the nose or mouth as well as diarrhea before giving them to the mom.
It is not as complicated as it sounds so here is a guide to help you foster your kits.
Tips To Spot Under Fed Babies
You need to check to make sure all of the babies sure getting fed. If not their bellies will start to be sunken in and will start have little dehydration lines over their back. The one on the right is a very minor case. It may be missed one meal so it is too soon to jump to conclusions and foster it out.
If the mother is a first-timer she may not know what to do. So you might have to help the kits nurse a time or two and after that, her instincts should kick in.
If not you can try to bottle feed the kits, but be prepared that is a lot of work and is not always successful. You can read more on how to help kits nurse and get fed here.
Choosing The Right Foster Mother
The very first thing to note is unless you have a doe with babies VERY close in age it’s not going to work. If the foster rabbit babies are even a little bit smaller than the host litter then they will have a hard time fighting to get food. This happens even in the same litter.
It’s not a sweet calm ordeal when mamma jumps in the box. It’s whoever comes first gets the food.
And if she is not already nursing and raising babies of her own she can’t foster babies. It’s not like a cow or goat you can milk for quite some time before she dries up. Most does lose milk after 3-5 weeks after giving birth. By three weeks out she is already starting to get her babies to stop nursing.
She Loves Being A Mamma
You know which of your does are the great mommas. There are some that do ok and there are some that keep everything in order and feed all of their babies evenly.
She is the doe that keeps her house in ORDER. She is happy with the babies and doesn’t need any help. That is the momma you want fostering babies.
Pro tip: This is not possible for everyone and I have only been able to start doing this over the past few years. But when you are planning your breeding season. Try to breed at least two at a time. That way if something does happen you have a doe as a backup.
Because like I said unless a doe has a litter of her own at that time it doesn’t matter if she is a good mother. If she’s not producing milk and she can’t help those babies.
Tips For Fostering Kits
- First, you need to make sure you can tell which babies came from which mother. If the foster babies look different than the host litter then you don’t need to worry. But if they look similar and you won’t know which babies are which then you need to mark the babies(if they do not look different) in some way so you know which babies belong with which doe. Using a permanent marker in one of the foster kit’s ears just put a dot or a dash in the ear. You may have to remark the ear every other day or so.
- Then put the new babies underneath the foster mother’s babies. This will help cover up the smell of the new babies and make them smell like her own.
I never want to make you worry too much. But even if the doe has made a perfect nest and everything seems to be going well, still keep a close eye on the babies. Things can go south in a matter of minutes and you won’t know what happened.
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