In a perfect world, baby bunnies would always be born in the nest box, covered with lots of warm fur. They would flourish and grow in to adorable bouncing fur balls. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Fortunately, if you notice a baby out of the nest box, or an entire litter that is cold, sometimes you can resuscitate baby bunnies, even if they look cold and lifeless.
Most of the time my rabbits are good mothers. However, I had one litter when the buck spooked the doe while birthing and half her litter wasn’t in the nest with their siblings. When I realized they were cold I knew I had to get them warmed up. When baby bunnies get cold they kind of go into a state of hibernation and you can’t really tell if they are still breathing or not. If you are trying to resuscitate baby bunnies and they have their heads arched back and their mouths open that’s a very late sign and you probably won’t be able to save them. If they haven’t reached that state there are a couple ways to do it.
How To Resuscitate Baby Bunnies
The most crucial thing is keep them warm. The very first thing I do is pop any bunnies I found down my shirt so they start warming up immediately. (I have to admit, it’s REALLY weird to have wiggly bunnies stashed in your bra. BUT wiggly is a good sign). Once they start to wiggle you know they are warming up. If you don’t like wandering around with bunnies down your shirt you can also try immersing them in warm water. Obviously make sure to keep their heads above the water and dry them off really well once they are active. Also, a hair dryer makes an excellent tool to resuscitate baby bunnies. This is what I did with my cold ones as soon as I got back into the house.
Keep An Eye On Them Once They Warm Up
After the babies are warm and active you can place them back in the nest. Baby rabbits need litters of at least three in order to maintain their body temperature so if you only have a few it’s best to foster them into other nests of similar ages if possible. If you need to you can also keep the nest inside for being monitored. Rabbits nurse their young twice a day, dawn and dusk. You can carry the rabbits in to the mother and wait for her to feed them and leave the nest. Then you can carry the nest back indoors. It’s not ideal, but works in a pinch. I was doing this for quite some time because we had rats (UUUUUGH!) who were raiding the nests. (Such horrible nasty things. Quarter inch mesh is the only thing that keeps the villians out, but that’s another story.)
Keep Nests Covered With Plenty of Fur
Make sure they are well covered with fur. You can even save fur from other litters to add to a nest if a doe doesn’t pull enough. Messing around with the nest will not make the doe abandon them. It’s okay to go through the nest after your doe is done kindling. Daily check for any kits that didn’t make it and remove them. I like to mark any cold kits with a sharpie on their back so I can go back through the nest and make sure they have a full, round tummy after being fed and that they aren’t too slow to compete for food.
Hopefully all your rabbit’s are fabulous mothers, undisturbed while birthing, and make it in the nesting box every single time. If not, good luck.