An orphaned or abandoned domesticated rabbit must receive regular feedings of a simulation of his mother's milk to give him a chance of surviving. You can make and feed an orphaned baby bunny a homemade milk formula that will provide him with the nutrients necessary for survival.
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Wash your hands with hot water and a disinfectant before handling a baby bunny. A baby's immune system is not fully developed and cannot yet fight bacteria.
Goat's Milk Formula
Things You'll Need
1/2 cup of fresh whole goat's milk.
1/2 cup of kitten milk replacer.
1/2 tsp. of heavy cream.
10 capsules or 1 Tbsp. of freeze-dried colostrum.
Container with lid.
Bottle with small nipple.
Purchase fresh goat's milk at a local farm or grocery store, if possible. Fresh milk has essential nutrients that are lost as the freshness deteriorates.
Once you have gathered your ingredients:
- Mix the milk, kitten milk replacer and heavy cream in the container.
- Add the colostrum and secure the container's lid. Shake until you see the colostrum has dissolved.
- Pour the homemade milk formula into a pan and heat to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a plastic thermometer, which you can buy at most pharmacies, to ensure you do not overheat the formula. Overheating will result in the formula losing much of its nutritional value.
- Pour the heated formula into a nursing bottle with a small nipple. Use a nursing bottle with nipples specifically for baby rabbits and squirrels, which you may have to purchase online. If you can't find a bunny nursing bottle at your local pet store, purchase a nursing bottle with nipples designed for newborn kittens.
- To give the colostrum time to settle, prepare the homemade milk formula two or three hours before you plan to feed the baby bunny.
- Place the bottle in warm water to keep it warm until you are ready to feed the baby. Baby bunnies are often more receptive to warm milk because it mimics mama's body temperature.
You can purchase colostrum, which is sold at many health food stores and online, in both powder and capsule form. Colostrum is generally expensive but provides the necessary nutrients for an orphaned bunny.
When you're ready to feed <atarget="_blank" href="http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/orphan.html"> </atarget="_blank">the baby:
- Sit down on the floor in case the baby tries to jump.
- Place the baby horizontally in one hand. Make sure he is sitting up so he does not aspirate as he eats.
- Use your other hand to hold the bottle for the baby.
- Put some of the formula on the baby's mouth if he refuses the nipple. Repeat until he latches onto the bottle.
Mother rabbits typically only feed their babies twice each day. You, too, should feed the orphaned bunny twice each day, following the guidelines carefully to avoid overfeeding. The following guidelines are for one feeding:
- Newborn babies to 1 week old: 2 to 2 1/2 cc.
- 1 to 2 weeks old: 5 to 7 cc.
- 2 to 3 weeks: 7 to 13 cc.
- 3 to 6 weeks: 13 to 15 cc.
An orphaned baby bunny will not have his mama to lick him and to help him eliminate after a feeding. You will have to take over mama's role, using a cotton ball or a soft wash cloth.
- Use warm water on the cotton ball or cloth and gently rub along the baby's genitals.
- The baby should begin to urinate and to defecate.
- Continue rubbing until the baby has stopped eliminating.
- You will need to stimulate the bunny to eliminate until he opens his eyes around 10 days of age.
Introduce the baby, after he turns 10 days old, to fresh timothy or alfalfa hay or orchard grass and high quality pellets. Weaning typically doesn't begin until the baby is 8 weeks old.