Will A Momma Rabbit Remove A Dead Baby From The Nest?

Don’t feel silly asking questions you don’t know. Raising rabbits is hard and you will be further along if you are willing to learn.

Learning rabbit nesting behavior is on of the most important skills you will learn as a rabbit raiser. This is when the young kits are the most volitle and they can go down hill fast.

Its also the defining moment when you find out if you can handle it and keep going or if you will give up. You have to be strong emotionally when you are raising animals for both them and yourself.  

So let’s get into what a doe will do and what to look for when there is a dead baby in the nest.

will a momma rabbit remove a dead baby from the nest intro image

Will a momma rabbit remove a dead baby from the nest?

The short answer is no. A doe (female rabbit) will not remove a dead baby from the nest.

When it comes to the event of a baby rabbit passing away in the nest, the responsibility of removing the dead baby falls on us, the rabbit owners or caretakers.

Unlike some other species, mother rabbits do not have the instinct to remove a dead baby from the nest. — However, depending on the doe and the size of the nest box I have noticed that sometimes the living kits will move to another spot in the nest box. 

Whether this is instinctual because animals can smell death or the domestic rabbits can feel the cold from the dead rabbits it’s hard to know. Either way, if you noticed that the whole litter has moved to another spot is a good idea to do a head count of the kits.

nest of baby rabbits

What To Do With A dead baby rabbit in the nest?

Finding dead baby bunnies in a nest can be a not-so-fun situation for any rabbitry owner.

One of the first things to do is to remove the dead babies from the nest. This is crucial to prevent the spread of foul odors that could attract predators or even pests such a flies to the nest.

To remove the dead body from the nest and any bloody nesting material with it, we can use a gardening hand trowel or a store bag. Lift the deceased bunny from the nest, being careful not to disturb or disrupt the other babies or the nest itself. Place the dead baby into a sealed bag and dispose of it.

When it comes to disposing of dead babies it’s really up to you what you want to do. You can throw them in the trash or into the brush far away from the rabbitry to feed the wildlife if you want to put everything on your farm to use. 

Keeping the nest clean is essential for the health and well-being of the remaining babies. Leaving a dead baby in the nest can attract flies and result in maggots, which pose additional risks to the other bunnies.

So, it’s crucial to remove the deceased bunny as soon as possible to prevent any potential issues.

While it may be a difficult task, taking proper care of the nest and the surviving babies is our responsibility as rabbit owners.

day old nest of baby rabbits

A Kit Is Missing?

You might discover that a kit is missing from the nest. It doesn’t mean that the doe removed it or even ate it. 

Sometimes a little one may wander off or become separated from the rest. Typically this happens after a feeding frenzy and the kit doesn’t end up back in the shallow hole they have for a nest because their eyes are not open yet. They just have to feel their way back.

If you find yourself in this situation, here’s what you can do:

  • Do a head count of the remaining kits. I will often take the nest box out of the cage and have another container to hold the kits and remove each one from the nest one by one to make sure I counted really well.
  • If you confirm that there is a missing kit, it’s important to carefully search the surrounding area in the nest box. Look under the layers of straw and in each corner and along the sides of the box.
  • If you are certain it’s not in the nest box make sure to cover up the remaining litter so they don’t get out on you before looking around the rabbitry for the kit. 
  • Then look all around the cage and outside of the cage on the ground. It’s not unheard of for a kit to stay latched on to the doe while feeding and get dragged out then fall through the wire. – The kits are going to try to stay warm so look under things that could even give the smallest amount of warmth. 

Once you’ve completed your search, return the kits to the nest, making sure they are all accounted for. Keep a close eye on them to ensure they are nursing and if you find the kit that it stays warm.

new born baby rabbits

How to tell if baby rabbits are dead?

Here are some things to make sure that the kit is dead before removing it from the litter. Sometimes a kit has become cold and looks dead but you may be able to warm it up either with a warm water bottle or you can find other tips and ideas here. 

1. Coldness: Dead newborn rabbits will feel cold to the touch, indicating that their body temperature has dropped significantly. — Stiffness may not mean dead: If the baby rabbit is unresponsive and feels stiff when gently touched, it could have gotten cold and its worth trying to revive the kit.

2. Lack of movement and limp body: If the baby rabbit shows no signs of movement and is limp when you pick it up it is definitely passed.

If you suspect that a baby rabbit may be dead, it’s important to act quickly. Attempting to resuscitate a cold baby rabbit can be successful if done if found within 30 minutes or so of the kit getting cold.

 However, if the rabbit has been cold for an extended period it’s probably too late to save them but it’s worth the try.

Will a mother rabbit eat a dead baby from the litter?

A doe will not likely eat a baby that has died whether it was cold, step on, or sick.

But, does will eat babies sometimes and it depends on the reason. Some does will eat a kit even if it’s not dead. Which is a hard fact of raising rabbits.

If the momma rabbit does it can be because her instinctual behavior serves to protect the nest and prevent the spread of diseases. In some cases, a mother rabbit may eat the baby due to various factors, such as stress, birth complications, or inexperience. 

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Rabbit Giving Birth To Dead Babies

It can be heartbreaking and confusing when a rabbit gives birth to dead babies. Stillbirth in bunnies can occur due to various reasons, including heat, stress, trauma, genetics, infections, medications, and dietary imbalances.

Most often dead newborn rabbits happen because one kit got stuck on the way out holding up the rest of the litter. 

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do in this case. Simply clean up the nest of dead baby rabbits and give the doe space. I would give her some electrolytes in her water to help her rebound because likely she did not have an easy delivery.

If the doe does not raise a litter you can wait a few weeks and breed her again in about a month to try and get her producing well. 

Often first-time rabbit mothers don’t know what to do or things just go wrong and they need a second chance to get it right. 

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