Do you want to know what baby rabbits drink?
Baby rabbits drink nothing but milk from their mother for the first 6-8 weeks of their life. They cannot drink cow’s milk, although you can consider giving them another milk such as goat’s milk.
Put simply, rabbits drink milk, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.
So, why is it so complicated? What should you do if you are attempting to rear a baby rabbit? Getting this part right with their diet is important.
Thankfully, you don’t have that much to do when it comes to feeding your baby rabbit in the correct way. In fact, there are only a couple of simple steps to take.
Feeding Baby Rabbits Milk – The Basics
Let’s start with the absolute basics.
A baby rabbit is only ever going to feed on milk from its mother for the first 6-8 weeks. It won’t eat any solids at all during that period. So, don’t even try that as it’s not healthy for them at this stage of their development.
However, even once that 8 week period has passed, they will still continue to wash down the few solids they consume with milk from their mother. This weaning process is long and slow, but it’s all part of nature, so we are fine with that.
Of course, this is all thanks to the fact that the milk contains the correct nutrients that the baby rabbit needs in order to grow and develop. Also, you may not know this, but rabbit milk contains the most calories out of all mammals, so the baby rabbit is getting all of the energy from this one single source.
But then, this is all to do with the baby rabbit and its mother. They will take control of how often they are fed, how much they drink and then caring for them after the fact.
What happens if the mother is not there? Well, that’s where you need to step in, but also life becomes more difficult. However, by the end of it all, you will feel an even stronger bond with your rabbit.
Giving a Baby Rabbit the Right Stuff to Drink
So, be aware that you cannot simply give a baby rabbit normal milk. Remember what we said earlier regarding it being high in calories, so your average milk is just not going to work.
This applies to any baby animal. What they need in order to develop and grow correctly is very specific. Giving them water or not paying attention to their needs can prove to be a disaster.
Now, that doesn’t mean you are out of options or need to get some rabbit milk from somewhere. Instead, there are alternatives that will work well, even if they are not perfect.
Kitten Milk Replacer
Your first option is kitten milk replacer, [Source] and you should have no difficulty finding this in your local pet store. This is certainly higher in calories and closer to the perfect milk for your baby rabbit, but it still falls short.
Of course, as it’s designed for baby animals, in this case, a kitten, it does tend to have the correct nutrient balance you would want to give to an animal of this size. However, you may want to add some heavy whipping cream, (one without sugar) to just provide a bit of a calorie boost.
Another option to consider is goat milk, and you can also buy this from your pet store. As with the kitten milk, you do need to add some of that cream as it too is lower in calories and those key nutrients.
To be honest, while it’s an option by using goat milk, it’s not the most popular. The kitten milk is perhaps the best route to go down, but if you don’t have access to that milk, then this is the second-best option.
How to Give Your Baby Rabbit a Drink
So, you know that your baby rabbit needs the correct milk, but how do you feed them when they are so young? Well, there’s a certain technique and approach that will prove to be the easiest way to do things.
A baby rabbit is highly unlikely to drink from any kind of bottle, so if you have that preconceived idea in your mind, then forget it. Instead, a different approach is required.
Here, you need to use a sterile oral syringe. This is something you may be able to get at your pet store, but a better option is to visit your local pharmacist. They are inexpensive but will make this feeding process a whole lot easier.
But how much do you then give them? After all, keeping close track of this kind of thing is kind of important.
Well, chances are that you pick up a 5ml syringe. So, that’s what we will base this on. Also, the amount you see should be evenly split between two feedings, so this is the total over a 24-hour period.
- Newborn – 4ml per day
- 1-2 weeks – Between 10 to 15ml per day
- 2-3 weeks – Between 15 to 30ml per day
- From 3 weeks to weaning – 30ml per day
As you see, it’s pretty easy to follow, but do stick to feeding them twice per day [Source] and in pretty even amounts. It helps their digestion. However, at first, you may find your baby rabbit doesn’t feed that much. With them, it may take more than two feeds for them to get the required daily intake as described above.
The Feeding Method
So, you now know what a baby rabbit will drink, but when it is still in the process of needing to be weaned, how do you feed them in the correct way?
A baby rabbit is going to feed from its mother while it lies on its back. So, it’s up to you to attempt to replicate the same kind of angle as that’s what feels natural to your baby rabbit.
What most people do is they wrap the baby rabbit up in a soft cloth or towel. That will make them relax and feel safe and secure. This partly replicates the way they would experience feeding from their mother.
Next, you can either place them on your lap or another alternative is in the crook of your arm. Once again, make sure they are on their back as that will increase the chances of them actually feeding. Making them feel relaxed will kind of induce them into suckling on the syringe.
Then, the next point is to make sure the baby rabbit drinks the milk at their own pace.
Never try to push them into feeding or rushing them along. Never do this under any circumstances no matter how impatient or tired you may be.
The baby is going to eventually suckle from the syringe at a speed it feels comfortable at. If you decide to push things along by basically squirting some drops of milk into the mouth of your baby rabbit, then horrible things can happen.
With this, it’s entirely possible that you could squirt some milk that ends up in their lungs. That will mean they start to aspirate and there’s every possibility they could die as a result.
When that’s the potential outcome, it makes sense to see why taking your time with all of this becomes so important.
So, What Next?
Giving your baby rabbit something to drink is about a whole lot more than offering them some milk. It takes time, patience, and a willingness to feed them twice a day for several weeks until they move onto completely solids and stop drinking milk.
However, bringing your baby rabbit through these early weeks and watching them grow into healthy adult rabbits will prove to be highly rewarding. Nursing them creates a special bond between you and your rabbit, and don’t be surprised if they end up being even more affectionate toward you than you ever thought possible.