Why Rabbits Need A Nesting Box
The main reason the nest box is necessary for the rabbit is to contain the babies and give them more protection. In the wild rabbits would dig in the dirt and make a nest in the ground completely protecting them from predators and the elements. So a wooden or metal box will do the same thing.
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Next Box Timeline
Always put the next box in about two to three days before the mother is due to have her litter. You never know if she will give birth early or not. If you put it into soon the doe will start to go to the bathroom in the nesting box and you don’t let too much waste inside the box. A few pebbles are fine and normal but not too much.
Rabbits will naturally nest fluff and make the nest to their liking with whatever they’ve got. Whether it is bedding, cardboard, newspaper, or straw. Then the mommas will line that nest with their own fur. She is likely within 24hrs of giving birth if she has started to pull fur.
My French Lop babies don’t typically start coming out of the nest box until 3 weeks old if they seem to be handling the wire pretty well on their own then I just take the nest box out if the weather is nice enough. Eventually, they will just start using the nest box as a toilet and it’s more sanitary for them to take it out rather than leaving it there for them to make a mess out of it.
Nesting Box Size Recommendations
The size will depend on your doe more than anything else. For the French lops and other large rabbits, it seems best to have a box big enough that to of the Mama’s could sit next to each other in the nesting box. So essentially two adult rabbits wide. It’s not that the babies need that much space. Once I made bigger boxes I had far fewer babies getting stepped on by the mom when she jumped in to feed them.
What you decide to put in it for nesting material is up to you however I prefer straw but when the weather is extremely humid I use mostly Pine bedding as long as the weather is warm enough. The straw will absorb the water in the air and become extremely damp causing the babies to get wet.
The pine bedding doesn’t absorb the water as much so you have to make sure that the bedding in the nest box is deep enough for the babies to sit above their waist and that urine will have somewhere to go.
You shouldn’t have to clean out the nest box more than once a week or so if the temperatures and weather are cooperating.
If the babies are coming in and out of the nest box fine and seem like they’re really not using the next box then take it out. Give them a cardboard box with some straw in it for them to sit in at night so they feel protected. Then just throw it out once they are completely done with a nest box. After about 5-6 weeks old they are just making a mess of it os just take it out by then.
Where To Get Them
How To Make Nesting Boxes
If you have large rabbits then chances are you’re better off just making the boxes yourself. It is suppler easy. All you have to do is build a box. You don’t need to make the sloped top or add a cover to part of it.
Plywood is better because the pressed wood absorbs the waste.
Always frame the corners so you have something to screw the sidewalls into. This will make your boxes stronger and you won’t run the risk of pointy objects coming through the other side of the wood.
The one caution I would give you is to not make the scoop or V on the side of the box if the mother can jump in and out of the box they don’t need to have it. When you have to fill the nest box up so much with messing with cereal it allows for the babies to get out of the box a lot sooner.
If they get out on their own when they are too small they will get stuck behind the box or mama will step on them accidentally. I lost a few babies before I realized that I had to close up the scoop that we put in our nest boxes.