If you are curious to know how long rabbits feed their babies, then you have come to the right place. Newborn rabbits depend a great deal on their mothers for survival. They are born blind, hairless, and helpless.
They are, therefore, very delicate at this point. A vital aspect of their mother’s care for them involves feeding them. In the first two weeks of life, baby rabbits depend totally on their mother’s milk as their source of food since they are not mature enough to eat solid food.
In the wild, a doe will feed her babies from the time they are born until they are about four weeks old. Most female wild rabbits are usually already pregnant with the next litter while still nursing the current one. It is a little different from domestic rabbits as a doe can wean her babies when they are six weeks old or even seven weeks old. Domestic does are in a better position to continue feeding their kits until that age.
How Often Does A Doe Feed Her Babies?
Most female rabbits that have just birthed a litter do not nurse their babies immediately. Instead, they will do so the night after giving birth. Nursing does feed their babies once or twice a day.
The duration of each feeding lasts for about 5 to 10 minutes. This time is enough for the kits to get all the food that they need from her. To know if your doe has nursed its kits, check their tummies. Kits that have been fed will have round and swollen looking stomachs.
What If My Female Rabbit Is Not Feeding Her Kits? Can I Feed Them?
Female rabbits generally care for their kits and will nurse them until they can safely eat solid food. Sometimes, however, some female rabbits may reject their kits and will refuse to care for them. This behavior could be due to stress, mastitis, or even death. If any of these is the case, you may need to feed the kits by yourself.
Before you begin feeding the kits, though, you have to make doubly sure that their mother is not feeding them. You do not want to take them away from her if there is a chance that she is still feeding them as her milk is the best food for them when they are still young. The same goes for if you stumbled upon wild rabbits that you think may have been orphaned.
How Can I Feed Baby Kits?
In the case of wild baby rabbits, the best option is for you to take them to a wildlife rehabilitation center  as the chances of them surviving without expert human knowledge are slim. Once you are sure that your pet rabbit is neglecting her kits, or that a wild baby rabbit has been orphaned, you may feed them. you can feed baby rabbits with the following ways:
- Fostering: If you have a problem with the feeding of your domestic kits, a great idea is for you to foster them to another nursing doe. The younger the kits are, the more successful a fostering is likely to be. It is best that new doe’s kits are close in age to your baby rabbits, perhaps, with a two day age gap. This age gap would make fostering them easy.
Take the kits to the new doe’s nest and rub their furs with her own, so that her smell can rub off on them. Before long, they would blend in with the foster doe’s kits, and she will have no problems nursing them. To help increase milk production in the doe, increase her fat intake by giving her sunflower seeds or whole oats, as these contain fat that will help with her milk production.
- Bottle-feeding: The food that you feed to your baby rabbits should be one that will not pose a danger to their weak immune systems. The best food for orphaned baby rabbits is goat milk or Kitten Milk Replacer.
It would be best if you fed the rabbit with the correct formula to avoid digestive problems. You can ask for help at a pet store. Use a sterile oral syringe to feed the kit as they will most likely refuse baby animal bottles. Alternatively, you may use an eyedropper.
Domestic rabbits feed their babies with breast milk for up to 6 or 7 weeks after their birth. On the other hand, wild rabbits will feed their rabbits for about four weeks after birth or even less.
If a wild rabbit has lost its mother, the best thing you can do is take it to a wildlife rehabilitation center. This is because most kits will not survive without their mothers or the expert care of a professional.
If you must feed a baby rabbit, the best option is to foster the animal to another nursing doe whose kits are close in age to the orphaned kit. Alternatively, you may bottle-feed the kit with the correct formula.
- National Wild Life Rehabilitators Association [Link]