Rabbit Focus

Do Rabbits Give Milk to Their Young?

Mother rabbits are infamous for not taking care of their young. However, the apparent aloofness of mom rabbits toward their babies is actually their way to protect them. Mother rabbits won’t feed their babies right away and may also leave the nest unattended for a long time. It shouldn’t be a cause for alarm, though. Only if they fail to create a nest that you might need to hand-rear the kits yourself as the owner.

Do Rabbits Give Milk to Their Young?

While other animals often nurse their young, you might be wondering if rabbits also do so. Do rabbits give milk to their young, too?

Yes, rabbits do give milk to their young. However, it is very rare for mother rabbits to nurse their young right after they give birth. More often than not, the first nursing will take place on the night following the kindling. The rich milk of a mother rabbit can sustain the baby rabbit for up to 24 hours at a time.

How Do You Know If a Mother Rabbit is Feeding Her Young?

The simplest and easiest way for you to tell if a mother rabbit is really feeding her young is when the babies’ bellies are full and round. They also shouldn’t have any wrinkles at all across their back.

It is also important to know that there are times when you might not really see the mother rabbit feeding her babies. Also, just because you don’t see the mother rabbit with her kits doesn’t necessarily mean that she hasn’t fed them yet. This is the reason why you must learn and know what and how the kits should look like.

Mother rabbits will also stay inside the nest box to feed the babies for a maximum of 5 minutes. If all the babies fail to get their milk during these 5 minutes, they are going to miss out and will have to wait until the next time.

It is also common that you don’t see a mother rabbit feeding her young. You might be able to spot the doe feeding her babies for just a few times that you are raising them. In fact, unless you are a long-time rabbit owner, you will most probably not see mother rabbits feeding their babies.

Now and then, you might also see a doe that doesn’t care and will just jump inside the nest box even if you are right there. However, this is not really common.

More often than not, if you go out to the caging area while the mother is feeding, she might jump outside the nesting box. If she does jump out, you might want to come back after several minutes once she is finished feeding.

The natural instinct of mother rabbits is to run away from the nest so that any form of danger will follow her instead without causing any harm to her young. So, if you still think that mother rabbits are uncaring, now might be the perfect time to start thinking otherwise.


Common Reasons Why Mother Rabbits Might Not Be Giving Milk to Their Young

There are actually a couple of reasons why mother rabbits might not give milk to their young. You may be able to fix some while others may be out of your control. Just try fixing whatever you can and never feel bad about what may happen.

A First-Time Mother Rabbit Might Be Clueless on What to Do

Just like other first-time mothers, rabbits that have their first litter might have no idea what to do and might not even feed their young for a full 24 hours.

It may also take some time for a first-time mother rabbit’s milk to come in. It may also start slowly, and you can hand-feed the baby rabbits until the mother’s milk starts coming in.

However, the moment the milk does come in, the first-time mother will become like a pro in an instant. They will keep her young fed until they become strong and big.

If your mother rabbit has milk, you can easily spot milk around the nipples right on her underside. If she got milk and you suspect that she isn’t feeding her babies, you might need to help in nursing the kits once or twice and after this, the mother’s instincts will kick in, allowing her to feed her babies by herself.

One or Two Kits are Hogging All the Milk

If most of the litter is actually doing quite well yet some kits don’t seem like they are growing properly, this next reason might be your problem here.

The bellies of other kits will be flat with lines across the back. You might also have some stronger babies or one in particular that pushes the weaker ones out of the way. The mother rabbit doesn’t have any control as to who will get there first.

The best solution here is to help the weaker kits get some milk for them to gain enough strength to take care of themselves. After two or three days of helping the weaker kits feed, they will become strong enough to do the feeding by themselves.

The Mother Rabbit Doesn’t Have Enough Milk

The last reason why mother rabbits are not feeding their babies is simply that they don’t make enough milk, or they might not have any milk in the first place.

Unfortunately, this isn’t really easy to tell like in the case of goats or cows. Rabbits will have small puddles around their nipples if they are filled with milk. You might be able to see better if the mother rabbit has picked plenty of her fur for her nest.

If you ever need to trim some of the hair around the belly, do exactly just that but make sure you don’t cut the doe.

With rabbits, it isn’t easy to make the milk come in. While all rabbits need water, make sure you give your doe more than enough.

You can also try to put some electrolytes in the water of the mother rabbit right after she gives birth to her babies. This can help make the doe more energetic while making sure that the babies also get fed more.

And with that, we officially end this blog post. But before you go, can you do us a solid and spread the love (or laughter) by sharing this on your social media? Who knows, maybe we might even find someone who can relate to our content and benefit from it... Wink