In a perfect world baby bunnies would always be born in the nest box, covered with lots of warm fur, and flourish and grow in to adorable bouncing fur balls in a few weeks. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case. Most of the time my rabbits are good mothers, but I had one litter where the doe was spooked while birthing and half her litter wasn’t in the nest with their siblings. As soon as I realized that the babies were cold I knew I had to help out 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.
The most crucial thing is keep them warm. The very first thing I did was pop any bunnies I found down my shirt while I checked to make sure I got them all. 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.
After the babies are nice and 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, so you can carry the rabbits in to the mother, wait for her to feed them and jump out and then take them back inside if you are worried about them. I was doing this for quite some time because we had rats (UUUUUGH!) who were raiding the nests. (I think I’m permanently scarred for life from these horrible nasty things. Quarter inch mesh is the only thing that keeps the villians out, but that’s another story.)
Also make sure they are well covered with fur. You can even save fur to add to a nest if you have a doe that doesn’t pull enough to cover them. 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 and check for any kits that didn’t make it. 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.