How to Properly Take Care of Pregnant Rabbit
Dear fellow animal lovers! Rabbits are cute, fluffy, and lovely animals. Their front teeth that showing up when smiling and munching, their long ears, and the chubby cheeks are to die for, aren’t they? It is not surprising to know a lot of people want to pet this little fluff ball at home. Though some others may have a different kind of affection for them—like loving the taste of their meat—we all can agree on rabbits being lovable and irresistible, especially the baby bunny.
So your doe is finally expecting babies and it’s about time until the kits join your household. Rabbit pregnancy takes only a short amount of time, about 31-35 days. Make sure you know the signs of their pregnancy so you can treat your female rabbit properly. Although rabbit pregnancy is considered short enough compared to other animals, you want to give the best for your doe. Here’s how to properly take care of a pregnant rabbit.
- Give her some space
Your rabbit will need her own space as sharing a cage with is likely to create more stress for her. Unless the cage is enormous, you don’t want to house your pregnant doe with other rabbits. Thus, the very first thing you have to do after knowing your doe is pregnant is separating her from other rabbits.
Though separating a bonded pair may sound hard to do, your doe is going to be distressed enough even without anyone interfering on her territory and the last thing she would want is for the male bunny littering her nest. Besides to give her some space, separating her from any male is also important because the buck will likely follow his natural instinct to hump and breed her regardless of she is pregnant or not.
But, what if you have two pregnant does? Well, if the two are both dominant females, they may resort to fighting and could hurt each other or their babies. However, some said you could try to leave them be if they are already housed together and get along very well. There were some cases of does that have kindled their bunnies into the same nest box and then taken turns caring for all the kits, although this isn’t typical. If either of them turns aggressive, which is possible, be prepared to separate them until both litters are weaned.
However, if you do want to keep them together, make sure you have a cage large enough that fitting two does, two nest boxes, and a whole gaggle of kits until they’re a few weeks old. The bigger the cage, the better the chances for peace between those two does.
- Give her nutritious food
We all agree that happy animal, happy owner. One of the keys to happy animals is them being healthy and the good nutritious food is crucial. If you are already aware of which food is good and which food is bad, now it’s the time to step up.
The soon to be mommy rabbit will need special changes to her diet to ensure that she is getting adequate nutrition because nutritional deficiencies may result in abortion or she would reabsorb the fetuses. Due to her pregnancy, her body will naturally need extra nutrition. Also, she will need more food portions than usual because she eats for two (or more). Make sure you provide her with high-quality food along with fresh, clean unlimited amounts of water. Commercial pellets are the ideal food for your pregnant doe.
While giving your doe the right nutrition is important, note that diet changes should be introduced slowly; rapid changes can be dangerous as they can affect the rabbit’s intestinal environment. However, cut back the on her food a few days before delivery so your doe will have a less chance of experiencing medical problems such as mastitis and ketosis. Once over, go back to her normal diet gradually, then she should be back to normal within one to two weeks of kindling.
- Provide a nest box
Your pregnant doe will eventually start making a nest herself around 3 weeks into a pregnancy. However, it could be anytime between 2 weeks after conception right up until a day or two before the delivery of the kits.
Though she can take care of making a nest by herself, if you want to keep the nest in a particular spot or quiet area you may help out by providing her a nesting box. This nesting box will be the place where she delivers her babies and takes care of them.
We suggest you provide a nest box because rabbits are quite helpless as babies. Other than their natural instinct to suckle, they are born hairless, blind and incapable to regulate their own temperature. That’s why mommy rabbit will be covering them with hair pulled from her own stomach whenever she leaves the nest to make them hidden from potential predators and ensure they are warm enough.
The nesting box is useful because you can ‘monitor’ the condition of the kits in one place easily. Provide hay and nesting materials inside of it to encourage your doe to use the nesting box. If everything goes smoothly, the nest box will be the most comfortable place for her to labor and look after the kits.
- Be aware of the possible problems related to the pregnancy
Last, but maybe not least, educate yourself so you can prevent and be prepared for the worst case possible. Some problems that commonly happen to your pregnant rabbit include mastitis (inflammation of the mammary glands), pregnancy toxemia (lack of nutrition during pregnancy), and killing her babies.
Always keep in touch with your vet during the pregnancy period. Also, asking some advice from fellow rabbit owner/farmer on how to properly take care of a pregnant rabbit surely won’t hurt. We sincerely hope your rabbit pregnancy goes smoothly and healthiness of both mommy and the babies. Good luck!