Both our does (female rabbits) have kindled (had babies) for the first time this year. I am always a little nervous when kindling time draws near. I feel the tension and excitement as the does busily build their nests. I check on them every couple hours so that I can rescue any newborn kits that might be born out of their box.
This year one of our does insisted on building her nest on the wire instead of in the nest box. I kept on moving the nesting material to the box but in the end she rebuilt her nest on the wire and that’s where she kindled. Soon after I gently moved her nest to the box. Initially the kits seems fine, except one that was put aside. A doe will do this if she knows that there is something wrong with the kit. This particular kit (baby rabbit) was quite small, a runt, but it was still moving so I tried to revive it.
To revive a cold newborn kit I start by giving it skin-to-skin care. The perfect spot for this is in your bra (if you’re a gal and wear a bra). As the kit begins to warm close to my skin I fill a sink with warm water and then place the kit’s body into the water while holding it’s head out. I hold the kit there until it starts to move more frequently. When it’s body feels warm I take the baby rabbit out and quickly dry it off with a soft towel. The kit should feel warm, move it’s legs and make little noises.
Often when a kit is born on the wire it misses it’s first feed so before returning the kit to it’s nest box I give it a chance to nurse from the doe. To do this I remove the doe from the cage and place her on her back. This is tricky because rabbits don’t like to be on their back. I manage to keep the rabbit on her back by holding the rabbit’s head between my knees and keeping a firm grasp on it’s hind legs. I place the kit on her belly and allow it to nurse. When the kit is no longer interested I return the kit to the nest box and the doe to her cage.
I have revived quite a few baby rabbits this way and I hoped this one would survive but it was so much smaller than the rest. Unfortunately I found this kit dead the next morning and several days later more of it’s siblings were dead. I finally clued in that the doe had refused to nurse her kits after I moved her nest into the box. One cold small kit was left and I revived it by using the methods above and then fostered the kit with the other doe who has six healthy growing kits. Hopefully it survives.
Linking to Barn Hop.