I often find when I am talking to people about rabbits that they think the mother rabbit (doe) will take care of her baby for a lot longer than she actually does.
Animals once again are humanized and looked down upon or forced to have their young with them longer than is natural causing fights to happen or damage to be done because humans don’t like what is natural for an animal.
From day one the kits depend on her for warmth and food but after 3 weeks old the doe really doesn’t do anything else for them.
There just isn’t much else that a doe can provide after 3 weeks old.
While the baby rabbits hang out with the mother after they are weaned it is more for protection and education rather than physical needs.
What Is The Weaning Process
Let’s start by defining what weaning is. The weaning process is the transition of a baby rabbit from solely relying on its mother’s milk to eating solid foods like it would if it were an adult rabbit.
Weaning begins naturally almost immediately after their birth for rabbits and continues even after they have been removed from their mothers care.
During the first week, the typically kit gets as much milk as it can get (or beat its siblings too). But the mother rabbit nurses less and less as the milk slowly decreases to encourage them to want to try other things.
If the baby is walking around the nest and seems to be looking around I will put a small amount of pellets in a dish and set it in the nest box. Usually, around two weeks they are pretty happy to try it out. It does not mean they are fully on pellets if they are readily eating the pellets the first time.
The key indicator that the kits are eating mostly pellets is the doe (mother rabbit) is activating hungry much faster than usual. Likely because her babies are seeking out of the nest and helping themselves to her food. You likely won’t see it happen right away because the kits are just trying out the feed. But within a week of trying pellets on their own, the kits should be eating pellets much more often.
How to separate baby rabbits from the mother.
It is very easy. Have a cage ready for the young rabbits and move them over. Have bowls or bottles with fresh water and pelleted adult rabbit food. Young rabbit food or pellets is just was a waste of money and about 6 times higher. The protein level is slightly less than ideal and other than that it is just the same as commercial pellets.
Do not give them too many different foods at a young age. Their digestive systems are very sensitive and can give them gas or even kill them.
Don’t let your emotions get the better of you and move the baby bunnies back and forth between their own cage and the female rabbit (mother) it will slow the separation process and is not fair to the rabbits. They will get confused and not know what is going on.
After about two days they will adjust and all will be fine.
If it has been more than 5 days DO NOT put them back together. The doe may harm them. It is her natural instinct to push them away and even get aggressive if they try to nurse or get too close. She knows it is in their favor to teach them to be on their own. Not dependant on her.
When should you separate baby rabbits from their mother?
The best age to remove a baby rabbit (also known as a kit) from his or her mother is between the ages of 6 and 8 weeks. The majority of kits can survive independently at the five or even sixth-week mark, eating adult food.
What If you still see babies nursing after 3 weeks old?
You will see the occasional baby try to sneak and see if momma will let them nurse. Sometimes the doe will let them if they are younger or if she is a pushover. Most times she will runoff or click at them. She may even get snappy and grumble at them if they are older kits that are not getting the hint.
If you see this (and the kits are at least 6 weeks old) it is best to separate them when she runs the babies off. The doe’s milk will dry up in a couple of days so they are fine without her. If you leave the kits with the doe when she pushes the babies away, the mother rabbit may attack or harm one of them.
If the kits are old enough to eat solid food and you are questioning if the doe is getting aggressive it is better to be safe than sorry.
Keep an eye on the babies to make sure they are eating pellets because they might be a little immature and not sure what to eat.
When is too late to separate baby rabbits from their mother.
When it comes to separating domestic rabbits at about 2 months of age personally I think you will have better temperaments than if you wait any longer than that. I have seen some people say they don’t let them go until 12 weeks old which is right about the time they will start fussing with each other and that is way too long.
While larger breed rabbits aren’t quite at sexual maturity they are starting to have hormones kick in. Breeds that are smaller could very well sire a litter with their siblings if left together until 3 months old. For some smaller breeds, it is recommended that they be bred by 6 months so 12 weeks sooner is not a stretch.
When to separate male and female rabbits.
Depends on the age. Adult male and female rabbits should never live together.
But if we are talking young litters. Personally, I would separate them by 10 weeks old. Around 12 to 14 weeks old you will start to see some aggression happening between them and you could end up with some fights happening when you aren’t looking.
Nipped ears with chunks missing and even deep bites and scratches if you’re not careful.
Do mother rabbits miss their babies.
If they are separated too young. Her body is still telling her she has babies to take care of so yes. But if she has already started to remove herself from them or even get aggressive with them. Nope. She is happy to have them gone.
That’s nature. They are wired to raise their babies to be ready to live on their own. They are not illogical like humans and think ” I wish they would stay a baby”. Animals do what comes naturally and that’s it.
How to make a mother rabbit feed her babies.
You can try to help the kits latch on but unless she has milk or has not completely abandoned them it’s pretty tough. Read this post below if you find yourself with a doe that is not feeding her babies at a young age. (If they are older than 3 weeks she doesn’t need to)
When do baby rabbits get fur?
After about day 2 you will start to seek peach fuzz growing. The fur will start to grow and get thicker every day after that. The baby rabbits should have a nice layer at about 10 days old and a full fluffy thick coat after a couple of weeks.
Unless it’s warm outside the nest of baby rabbits should stay under mommas fur in the nest box until 10days old or so.