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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11460
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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I need to know why all our rabbit babies keep dying. We are

Customer Question

I need to know why all our rabbit babies keep dying. We are trying to raise Californians. So far we have had three litters and no survivors. Well the 3rd litter has 2 left. Are we doing something wrong do we need to change something. We have to find a way to keep these babies alive.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.

I'm sorry to hear you're losing babies. I've been raising and showing rabbits for over 30 years, and I'll try to help. Some additional information will be helpful.

Have the three litters all been from the same rabbit, or from three different does?

If different does, have these been their first litters?

Have the babies been born in a nest the mother made from her fur, or has she given birth on the cage floor?

How old are the babies when they die?

What is the temperature in the area where the rabbits are kept?

What happens to the babies - do they get thinner and waste away, develop diarrhea, sneeze and have runny noses, etc.?

What kind of litter/bedding do you use?

What do you feed the mothers?

Is the buck related to the does you breed him to?

Thank you.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

2 litters from one rabbit and one litter from another.


First litter for one doe.


Born in a nest box. and all three time the mothers pulled hair and made nests.


ages at deth range from birth to a week old. None have made it past a week.


I try to keep the temp around the cage down around about 80 deg during the hot part of the day.


Dont know why they are dying. Every day a new one is dead in the nest.


The bedding we put in the nest box it grass hay then the mom pulls hair .


I feed the about a 1/2 cup of pellets a day plus grass and hay.


No relation


Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
So the babies show no symptoms, they just die suddenly?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
thats what it seems. I do not keep constant watch on them but I check in on them a couple times a day. They seem to squeel and fuss when I move them around then the next time I come back I will find another dead.
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for the additional information. It's common for the first litter to die or for the mother not to take adequate of them. Some baby rabbits are born with genetic defects that don't permit them to live past a few days. But, it would be unusual for a whole litter to be affected unless the parents were very closely related to each other.

Becoming too cold also kills young rabbits, but that's probably not the case, either. However, I would turn off the fans because a draft, even a warm one, can easily lead to illness. If you use the fans, place them where no draft goes toward the rabbits. A mister can also lead to trouble because bacteria can grow in the water that is then misted. Too much humidity is not good for rabbits. Baby rabbits are not as likely to suffer from heat as are adults. Babies actually need to be kept in the 90*s for the first couple of weeks. The mother adjusts their temperature by piling more fur on them or by removing some. No additional heat is needed.

With the circumstances you've described, what seems most likely is that the mother rabbit isn't producing enough milk. There are a few does that produce very little or no milk. Without nourishment, the babies will only live a day or two. With inadequate milk production, they will live longer, but fade. If your female is one of these does that don't produce adequate milk, it's likely that the same thing will keep happening. One thing that could result in poor milk production is an insufficient diet. While the foods you are giving are nutritious, this may not be enough. It is usually recommended that a five pound rabbit receive 1/4 cup of pellets per day. A ten pound one should get 1/2 cup. However, when lactating, rabbits need much more food in order to produce milk. When babies are nursing, I let my does have all the pellets they want. You may also want to check the following site for diet recommendations to make sure the mothers are receiving the best possible diet.

The other possibility is that the mother is carrying an infectious disease. Being only a carrier, she wouldn't be sick, but the babies could become infected and die.

I would start by making sure the fans and the mister are not problematic, and by giving nursing mothers all the pellets and hay they want. If that doesn't help, the next step is to see an experienced rabbit vet. If the mother isn't producing milk, the vet may be able to determine why and offer some solutions. Testing can be done for some infectious diseases. However, all of this could become quite expensive. Here is where you can find a rabbit vet:

If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your remaining babies will survive, and you'll be successful with future litters.


(The above answer is intended for informational purposes only. If your pet is ill, you should consult a veterinarian. )
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
the mister and fan is only run if the temp get over 90 deg in the hot part of the day. 1pm - 4pm. Then I turn them off.
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Well, just don't let the fans blow directly on the rabbits. If your adults get too warm, you can freeze water in empty milk jugs or cartons. Then place the frozen jugs in the cages. Rabbits will often lean against them to stay cool.