What do you feed a baby rabbit without a mother

Feeding Orphaned Baby Rabbits: My Guide

When faced with the situation of having to feed a baby rabbit without a mother, it can be a daunting task. However, with the right knowledge and guidance, you can ensure the well-being and health of the orphaned bunny. In this comprehensive guide, I will provide essential tips on what to feed, how to feed, and how often to feed baby rabbits without a mother.

Feeding orphaned baby rabbits requires special attention and care to meet their specific dietary needs. By understanding their nutritional requirements and following proper feeding practices, you can give these little ones the best chance at a healthy life.

In this article, I will cover various aspects of baby rabbit care, including the reasons why they may become orphaned, the importance of proper feeding, choosing the right formula, feeding schedule, creating a suitable nest area, introducing solid foods, and more. Whether you are caring for a domestic or wild baby rabbit, this guide will provide you with the necessary information to promote their growth and well-being.

Key Takeaways:

  • Feeding orphaned baby rabbits is a challenging task that requires specialized knowledge and guidance.
  • Proper feeding is essential for the health and well-being of the baby rabbits.
  • Choose the right formula, such as kitten milk replacer or goat’s milk, for feeding orphaned baby rabbits.
  • Follow a feeding schedule and gradually introduce solid foods as the rabbits grow.
  • Provide a suitable nest area with soft bedding and a dark environment for the baby rabbits.

Why Do Baby Rabbits Become Orphaned?

Baby rabbits can become orphaned for various reasons. In the case of wild rabbits, it could be due to a deceased mother or a situation where she is unable to care for her young. Domestic rabbits may become orphaned if the mother is sick or refuses to care for her babies. It’s important to determine the reason for the orphaned status before proceeding with feeding and care.

When it comes to wild rabbits, their natural instinct is to hide their nests and only return a couple of times a day to nurse their babies. However, sometimes circumstances such as predators or human interference can result in the mother abandoning her young.

For domestic rabbits, there are a variety of factors that can contribute to them becoming orphaned. The mother may be sick and unable to care for her babies, or she may reject them for unknown reasons. It’s crucial to assess the situation and take appropriate action to ensure the survival and well-being of the orphaned baby rabbits.

Understanding why baby rabbits become orphaned allows us to provide the necessary care and support they need during this vulnerable stage of their lives.

The Importance of Proper Feeding for Baby Rabbits

Proper feeding is crucial for the health and well-being of orphaned baby rabbits. When caring for these fragile creatures, it’s essential to follow a feeding schedule and provide the right amount of formula to ensure their optimal growth and development. Overfeeding can lead to fatal intestinal disease, so it’s important to exercise caution and adhere to the recommended guidelines.

Feeding orphaned baby rabbits too frequently can also result in bloating, another potential threat to their well-being. By establishing a regular feeding schedule, you can help prevent digestive issues and promote overall baby rabbit health.

To ensure that the baby rabbits receive the necessary nutrients, it is important to provide them with a suitable formula. The choice of formula is critical in their proper nourishment and care. For baby rabbits, kitten milk replacer is a commonly used option, easily found at most pet stores. Alternatively, goat’s milk can also be used as a suitable substitute.

“Proper feeding is crucial for the health and well-being of orphaned baby rabbits.”

Creating a proper feeding environment is also essential. The orphaned baby rabbits should have a comfortable and quiet space where they can comfortably feed. Avoid excessive handling during feeding to minimize stress.

Follow the table below for a comprehensive feeding schedule and formula intake guidelines:

Age Feeding Frequency Formula Intake
0-2 weeks Every 2-3 hours 5-7ml per feeding
2-3 weeks Every 3-4 hours 7-10ml per feeding
3-4 weeks Every 4-5 hours 10-15ml per feeding

Note: The feeding schedule may vary depending on the individual needs and condition of the baby rabbits. Consulting with a veterinarian or wildlife rehabilitator can provide further guidance in adjusting the feeding schedule as needed.

Remember, proper feeding is vital for the well-being of orphaned baby rabbits. By following a feeding schedule, providing the appropriate formula, and monitoring their intake, you can help ensure their healthy growth and development.


  • House Rabbit Society – https://rabbit.org/
  • Local Wildlife Rehabilitators – Contact your local wildlife center for information and assistance

Choosing the Right Formula for Baby Rabbits

When it comes to feeding orphaned baby rabbits, selecting the right formula is of utmost importance. As a compassionate caregiver, I understand that providing them with the proper nutrition is essential for their growth and development. There are two commonly used formulas for baby rabbits: Kitten Milk Replacer and Goat’s Milk. Let’s explore these options in detail.

Kitten Milk Replacer is a widely available formula specifically designed for kittens, but it also serves as an excellent substitute for mother’s milk for baby rabbits. You can easily find this product at most pet stores or online retailers. Kitten Milk Replacer contains essential nutrients that are beneficial for the health and well-being of orphaned bunnies.

If you prefer an alternative option, Goat’s Milk can also be used to nourish baby rabbits. It provides a similar nutritional profile to mother’s milk and can be easily digested by the delicate digestive systems of these little ones. Just make sure to choose regular goat’s milk and not any flavored or fortified varieties.

It’s essential to note that certain formulas, such as puppy formula or Esbilac, are not suitable for baby rabbits. These formulas are formulated specifically for puppies and lack the necessary nutrients for the optimal growth of baby rabbits. Therefore, it’s important to stick to formulas that are specifically designed for rabbits.

By selecting the right formula, whether it’s Kitten Milk Replacer or Goat’s Milk, you can provide the necessary nutrients and support for the healthy development of orphaned baby rabbits.

In the upcoming section, we will explore the recommended feeding schedule and the appropriate amount of formula to give to baby rabbits at different stages of their growth.

Formula for Baby Rabbits

A Comparison of Kitten Milk Replacer and Goat’s Milk for Baby Rabbits

Criteria Kitten Milk Replacer Goat’s Milk
Nutritional Content Balanced composition for rabbits Similar to mother’s milk
Availability Readily available at pet stores Accessible in most grocery stores
Digestibility Easily digested by baby rabbits Gentle on delicate digestive systems
Suitability Specifically formulated for rabbits Ideal as a substitute for mother’s milk

How Much and How Often to Feed Baby Rabbits

Feeding orphaned baby rabbits requires careful attention to their age and weight. The feeding schedule and amount of formula intake play a critical role in their development and overall health. Proper feeding practices contribute to their well-being, helping them thrive as they approach the weaning stage.

For domestic bunnies with closed eyes, a feeding schedule of 2-3 times a day is recommended. This ensures they receive an adequate amount of formula to support their growth. On the other hand, wild bunnies should be fed 2 times a day to mimic their natural feeding patterns.

As the baby rabbits mature and approach the weaning stage, their formula intake should gradually decrease. This transition prepares them for the introduction of solid foods. Here is a general guideline for the amount of formula to give baby rabbits based on their age:

Age: 1-2 weeks

Formula Intake: 10-12 ml per feeding

Age: 2-3 weeks

Formula Intake: 12-15 ml per feeding

Age: 3-4 weeks

Formula Intake: 15-18 ml per feeding

It’s important to note that these guidelines serve as a starting point, and individual rabbit’s needs may vary. Monitoring their weight and overall health is crucial in adjusting their feeding schedule and formula intake as necessary.

Following the recommended feeding schedule and measuring formula intake help prevent overfeeding and potential digestive issues. It’s essential to provide them with the appropriate nourishment to support their growth and development.

Creating a Suitable Nest for Baby Rabbits

Providing a comfortable and secure nest area is crucial for the well-being and development of baby rabbits. This is where they will spend most of their time during the early stages of life, so it’s important to create an environment that mimics their natural habitat.

When setting up a nest for baby rabbits, there are a few key elements to consider:

  1. Nest Area: Choose a quiet and undisturbed area to place the nest. This could be in a corner of the room or in a separate enclosure. Ensuring a peaceful environment will help the rabbits feel safe and secure.
  2. Soft Bedding: Line the nest with clean towels or soft bedding materials. This will provide warmth and comfort for the baby rabbits. Avoid using materials that are too fluffy or dusty, as they can pose a risk of suffocation.
  3. Dark Environment: Cover the nest with a blanket or towel to create darkness. Baby rabbits are naturally nocturnal creatures, and a dark environment helps regulate their sleep and wake cycles.

It’s important to note that handling practices differ for wild and domestic rabbits:

Wild Rabbits: It’s best to minimize handling of wild baby rabbits as much as possible. Their mother would typically keep them hidden in their burrow, and excessive handling can cause stress and interfere with their natural behavior.

Domestic Rabbits: Domestic baby rabbits may require additional stimulation and hygiene practices. Gently stroking their bodies with a soft cloth can mimic the mother’s licking, promoting proper circulation and cleanliness.

Nest Area

Nest Bedding Materials Comparison
Bedding Material Advantages Disadvantages
Clean Towels Soft and comfortable Require regular washing
Shredded Paper Readily available and inexpensive Potential dust inhalation
Straw Natural nesting material Can be prickly and uncomfortable
Fleece Blankets Soft and cozy May trap urine odor

By creating a suitable nest area with soft bedding and a dark environment, you are providing baby rabbits with the comfort and security they need during their early stages of life. Remember to follow appropriate handling practices based on whether the rabbits are wild or domestic. Your attention to their nesting needs will contribute to their overall well-being and healthy development.

Introducing Solid Foods and Weaning

Once the baby rabbits’ eyes are open, it’s time to gradually introduce them to solid foods. This is an important milestone in their development, as they start to transition from formula to more solid and natural food sources. The weaning stage plays a crucial role in preparing the rabbits for a diet consisting mainly of hay and fresh greens.

When it comes to solid foods for baby rabbits, there are a few options that are nutritious and suitable for their delicate digestive systems. Here are some recommended choices:

  1. Plain alfalfa pellets: Alfalfa pellets are a great source of nutrients and fiber for baby rabbits. They can be easily found at pet stores and provide essential vitamins and minerals for their growth.
  2. Oat hay and timothy hay: Introducing hay to baby rabbits helps them develop a taste for roughage and aids in their digestion. Oat hay and timothy hay are excellent choices that provide the necessary fiber.
  3. Fresh greens: As the rabbits get older and their digestive systems mature, they can gradually be introduced to fresh greens. Some examples of suitable greens for baby rabbits include carrot tops, parsley, and dandelion greens. These provide additional nutrients and variety in their diet.

It’s important to control the introduction of solid foods and follow a weaning timeline appropriate for both domestic and wild rabbits. Starting with small amounts of each food and gradually increasing the portion size over time allows the rabbits to adapt to the new diet without overwhelming their digestive systems. Keep a close eye on their response to the new foods and adjust accordingly.

Weaning is a gradual process, and the timeline may vary depending on the rabbits’ development and individual needs. It’s important to monitor their weight and overall health throughout the weaning stage to ensure they are thriving on the new diet.

Weaning Timeline for Domestic Rabbits:

Age Weaning Stage
3-4 weeks Introduction of alfalfa pellets
4-5 weeks Introduction of hay (oat hay and timothy hay)
6 weeks and older Gradual introduction of fresh greens

Weaning Timeline for Wild Rabbits:

Age Weaning Stage
4-5 weeks Introduction of alfalfa pellets
5-6 weeks Introduction of hay (oat hay and timothy hay)
7 weeks and older Gradual introduction of fresh greens

Remember, each rabbit is unique, so it’s important to observe their individual progress and adjust the weaning timeline accordingly. Providing a balanced diet that consists of hay, fresh greens, and the appropriate amount of pellets ensures the rabbits receive the essential nutrients for their growth and overall well-being.

The Role of Cecotropes and Stimulation

When it comes to the intestinal health of baby rabbits, cecotropes play a vital role. Cecotropes are the soft green droppings that rabbits usually eat, and they contain essential nutrients and beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion. To ensure the well-being of orphaned baby rabbits, it is important to understand the significance of cecotropes in their diet.

In a healthy adult rabbit’s digestive system, cecotropes are formed in the cecum, a specialized part of the intestine. These nutrient-rich droppings are then re-ingested, allowing the rabbit to acquire essential vitamins, proteins, and beneficial bacteria necessary for proper digestion and overall well-being.

If available, collecting cecotropes from a healthy adult rabbit and mixing them with the formula can provide orphaned bunnies with beneficial bacteria, promoting intestinal health. This can be done by gently pressing the adult rabbit’s belly to release cecotropes and then incorporating them into the formula. This method helps mimic the natural process and ensures that the orphaned rabbits receive important nutrients for their gut health.

Along with incorporating cecotropes, stimulation for urination and defecation is crucial for the well-being of baby rabbits. In a natural setting, mother rabbits stimulate their babies’ elimination by licking their genital and anal areas, which helps keep the nest clean and prevents waste buildup. As caretakers of orphaned baby rabbits, it is essential to mimic this behavior and gently stimulate the bunnies’ genital and anal areas after each feeding.

By applying gentle pressure with a warm, damp cloth or cotton ball, you can encourage the babies to urinate and defecate, preventing any discomfort or health issues. This not only maintains a clean and hygienic nest but also supports the proper functioning of their digestive system.

Overall, understanding the role of cecotropes and practicing stimulation for urination and defecation is essential for the intestinal health and overall well-being of orphaned baby rabbits.


Key Points:
Cecotropes are soft green droppings that rabbits eat to acquire essential nutrients and beneficial bacteria for digestion.
If available, collecting cecotropes from a healthy adult rabbit and mixing them with the formula can provide beneficial bacteria for orphaned baby rabbits’ gut health.
Stimulation for urination and defecation should be practiced to mimic a mother rabbit’s behavior, keeping the nest clean and supporting proper digestive function.

Wild Baby Rabbits and Professional Rehabilitation

When it comes to wild baby rabbits, providing specialized care requires the expertise of a wildlife rehabber or a wildlife center. Attempting to care for them at home without the proper knowledge and experience often leads to unfavorable outcomes. To ensure the survival and successful release of wild baby rabbits, it is essential to reach out to a professional in your area who can offer guidance and assistance.

Wildlife rehabbers are trained individuals who specialize in the care and rehabilitation of wild animals, including baby rabbits. They have the knowledge and resources to provide the proper diet, medical care, and enrichment to facilitate the rabbits’ growth and development.

Wild rabbits have specific needs and behaviors that can be challenging for inexperienced caretakers to address. By entrusting the care of wild baby rabbits to a wildlife rehabber, you can ensure that they receive the best possible care and have the greatest chance of survival in their natural habitat.

Why choose a wildlife rehabber?

“Wildlife rehabbers are specially trained to provide the care and rehabilitation needed to release wild animals back into their natural environment. They possess the expertise and resources necessary for successfully raising and preparing wild baby rabbits for their eventual release.”

By working with a wildlife rehabber, you can benefit from their experience in raising and rehabilitating wild animals. They have the knowledge to address the unique challenges of caring for wild baby rabbits, including feeding, habitat creation, and eventually transitioning the rabbits to the wild.

Wildlife centers are another invaluable resource for wild baby rabbit care. These facilities have dedicated staff and resources specifically geared towards the rehabilitation and release of wild animals. They often have the necessary permits and licenses to legally care for wildlife and possess the expertise to provide appropriate medical care and behavioral enrichment.

Benefits of Professional Rehabilitation for Wild Baby Rabbits
Access to specialized care and expertise in wild rabbit rehabilitation
Proper diet and medical care tailored to the rabbits’ specific needs
Opportunity for successful release back into the wild
Ensures the rabbits’ best chances for survival and thriving in their natural habitat

Remember, caring for wild baby rabbits requires specialized knowledge and resources. By collaborating with a wildlife rehabber or wildlife center, you can play a crucial role in giving these vulnerable creatures a second chance at life in the wild.

Precautions and Considerations for Orphaned Baby Rabbits

Handling orphaned baby rabbits requires careful attention and precautionary measures to ensure their safety and well-being. By following a few essential guidelines, you can minimize stress, reduce potential risks, and provide the best care for these vulnerable creatures.

1. Wash Your Hands Thoroughly

Before handling orphaned baby rabbits, it is crucial to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. This simple step helps prevent the transmission of any harmful bacteria or contaminants and keeps the rabbits healthy.

2. Minimize Excessive Handling

Excessive handling can cause stress and anxiety for baby rabbits, especially in the case of wild rabbits. It is important to limit handling to essential tasks such as feeding, cleaning the nest, or seeking medical assistance.

If you come across a wild baby rabbit, it is advisable to minimize any contact or handling. Instead, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator or wildlife center for professional assistance and guidance on proper care.

3. Ensure Suitable Temperature and Environment

Rabbits are sensitive to extreme temperatures, which can have adverse effects on their health. It is essential to provide a suitable temperature and environment for the baby rabbits to thrive.

The ideal temperature for baby rabbits is around 68°F-72°F (20°C-22°C). Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight or drafts, as they can cause overheating or chilling. A cozy and quiet space away from noise and disturbances promotes their comfort and well-being.

Creating a nest area with soft bedding, as discussed in Section 6, ensures their comfort and mimics their natural habitat as closely as possible.

4. Handle Potential Risks and Hazards

When caring for orphaned baby rabbits, it’s essential to be aware of potential risks and hazards in their surroundings:

  • Avoid using toxic plants or substances in the vicinity of the rabbits.
  • Keep household pets away from the baby rabbits to prevent any accidents or harm.
  • Secure their living area to prevent escapes or injuries.

By being proactive in identifying and managing potential risks, you can ensure a safe and secure environment for the orphaned baby rabbits.

Remember, the well-being and health of the orphaned baby rabbits should always be the top priority. Taking necessary precautions and following proper care guidelines will help provide the best chance for their survival and successful rehabilitation.

Handling Orphaned Rabbits

Precautions for Handling Orphaned Baby Rabbits Risks Precautions
Wash hands thoroughly Transmission of harmful bacteria Handwashing with soap and water
Minimize excessive handling Stress and anxiety Handle only for essential tasks and limit contact
Ensure suitable temperature and environment Extreme temperatures Maintain ideal temperature and provide a cozy space
Handle potential risks and hazards Toxic plants, household pets, accidental injuries Avoid potential risks and secure the living area

Additional Resources and Further Reading

When caring for orphaned baby rabbits, it’s important to have access to reliable resources and seek guidance from experts in rabbit care and wildlife rehabilitation. Here are some valuable resources that can provide information and support:

Rabbit Resources:

  • The House Rabbit Society: This nonprofit organization offers a wealth of information on rabbit care, including articles, guides, and forums where you can seek advice from experienced rabbit owners. Visit their website at rabbit.org.

Wildlife Rehabilitators:

“Wildlife rehabilitators are professionals trained to care for orphaned wild animals, including baby rabbits. They have the knowledge and experience to provide specialized care and ensure the best chance of survival and successful release.”

If you come across orphaned baby rabbits in the wild, it’s recommended to contact a local wildlife rehabilitator for guidance and assistance. They can assess the situation, provide specific care instructions, and, if necessary, take in the baby rabbits for professional rehabilitation. To find a wildlife rehabilitator near you, you can:

  1. Contact your local animal control or wildlife agency for a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators in your area.
  2. Check the website of your state or provincial wildlife agency for a directory of licensed rehabilitators.
  3. Reach out to reputable wildlife centers and sanctuaries in your region and inquire about their rehabilitation services.

Remember, contacting experts in rabbit care and wildlife rehabilitation is crucial to ensure the well-being and survival of orphaned baby rabbits. They can provide you with the necessary knowledge and support to give these vulnerable creatures the best chance at a healthy future.


Caring for orphaned baby rabbits without a mother can be a challenging task, but with the right knowledge and guidance, it is possible to provide the necessary care and nutrition for their well-being. Feeding orphaned baby rabbits according to the recommended guidelines is crucial to their growth and development. By choosing the right formula and following a consistent feeding schedule, you can ensure that the baby rabbits receive the nutrients they need to thrive.

In addition to proper feeding, creating a suitable nest area is essential for the comfort and security of orphaned baby rabbits. Providing soft bedding and a dark environment mimics their natural habitat and helps promote healthy growth. It’s also important to seek professional assistance when needed, especially when caring for wild baby rabbits. Wildlife rehabbers and wildlife centers are equipped with the expertise to ensure their survival and successful release into the wild.

Remember, the goal of caring for orphaned baby rabbits is to give them the best chance of survival and a healthy future. By following this baby rabbit care guide, including feeding orphaned rabbits, creating a suitable nest, and seeking professional guidance, you can play a vital role in their well-being. With your care and attention, these orphaned bunnies can grow up strong and healthy, prepared to live their lives to the fullest.


What should I feed a baby rabbit without a mother?

You can feed a baby rabbit without a mother kitten milk replacer or regular goat’s milk.

How often should I feed a baby rabbit without a mother?

The feeding frequency depends on the age and type of baby rabbit. Domestic bunnies with closed eyes should be fed 2-3 times a day, while wild bunnies should be fed 2 times a day.

Can I use puppy formula to feed a baby rabbit without a mother?

No, puppy formula is not suitable for baby rabbits. It’s important to use kitten milk replacer or regular goat’s milk.
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