Raising Baby Bunnies
Don't You Love Baby Rabbits!
When I was a kid, we raised rabbits. It was a 4-H project and we worked hard at it. Despite the work involved, all of us whole-heartedly participated in the project. We learned a lot about responsibility, about caring for animals and about goal setting.
A big bonus of raising rabbits is how much fun the furry, cuddley baby rabbits are. They hop around playfully in their hutch and snuggle their head into the curve of your arm when you hold one.
Here's an overview of our rabbit raising efforts with a focus on cute bunnies.
Baby Bunnies - From Birth to Weaning
Baby Bunnies - Only 4 Days Old
At this stage, they don't have their eyes open yet or have fur.
The mother rabbit arranges straw in the nest box we provided. She pulls her own fur to make a soft nest for the new babies and to keep them warm.
We did not handle the babies at this early stage, as sometimes it would put the mother off and she would reject the babies. Usually we would arrange for several litters to be born on the same day. If one mother had too many babies for the number of nipples she had, we would shift some babies to the other mother and litter.
This book is praised by a lot of rabbit raisers. It has 5-star reviews from 40 customers on Amazon.
Baby Bunnies - Three Weeks Old
This is their super-cute stage. Actually rabbits stay pretty cute all their lives.
Baby Bunnies - 2 Months Old
At this age, the rabbit is weaned and eating commercial rabbit pellets. It won't get the proper nourishment if you just give it lettuce and carrots.
Our Family's Rabbit Experience
My Memories of Raising Rabbits
(click on the link below to see the whole story)
When I was in 6th grade, we began raising rabbits. I'm not sure how it started, but it evolved into a major production. This was common in my family to develop any interest to a very high level. Other families might decide to have rabbits and get 1 or 2. Ours started out with a couple and progressed into a full-scale rabbitry complete with grand champion trophies, state project awards in 4-H and with each of us specializing in raising a different breed.
Living in the country gave us ample space for the heavy wooden hutches that housed the rabbits. They formed three rows west of the garage and the family laboriously constructed a stone wall across the front to set the rabbitry off from the driveway. At its peak, the rabbitry housed around 300 rabbits.
The photo from my scrapbook shows me in my 4-H uniform with one of my New Zealand White rabbits.
(click on the link below to read the whole story)
My 4-H Fair Ribbons for Raising Rabbits
Different Rabbit Breeds
There Are Many Breeds of Rabbits
The idea was that we wouldn't compete against each other at the county fair, so I raised New Zealand Whites, Cindy raised silver-furred Chinchillas, Karen had New Zealand Reds, Susan chose Californians and Shannon had the miniature Dutch. My brother was already occupied with his project of raising a litter of pigs from one he won in an essay contest, and so was exempted from rabbit raising. My essay had failed to win an Ayrshire cow, which was perhaps fortunate, as rabbits proved much easier to manage.
You'll be amazed at the variety of rabbits available. Be wise and read about them before choosing the one (or ones) that you want to raise. Do you want a show rabbit or ones to raise for meat or just for pets?
These are miniatures when compared to the large breeds like the New Zealand Whites. My littlest sister, Shannon, raised these.
A Dutch Rabbit
New Zealand White Rabbit
This is the breed that I raised. The New Zealand White was a large breed with white fur and pink eyes. They make great meat raising rabbits.
New Zealand Red Rabbit
My sister Karen raised New Zealand Red rabbits. They were quite handsome. Here's an example of one.
Every year we would go to the Kansas State Fair. It was a treat to see the animals from all over the state. Sometimes there would be a new breed of rabbit that we had never seen before. Here's an example of an unusual rabbit breed.
Bunny and Blooms 03 Greeting Cards by bunigrl334
My older sister, Susan raised this breed. The markings remind me of Siamese cats.
A Mixed Litter
of young rabbits
When the parents are different breeds, then the litter of baby rabbits will show some colors of the parents, but some will revert to colors of the ancestors of the parent rabbits. Note how some of these even went to a brown coloration that reminds you of wild rabbits.
(photo from the Martin family album)
Rabbit Gear and Supplies
You'll Need a Hutch for Your Rabbit
There's quite a variety of sizes and configurations on Amazon. Click on the picture to see other versions and find the right one for your bunny.
Here's Our 4-H Rabbitry in 1965
Note the nest boxes on the side of each hutch. There are so many new options now for lightweight hutches. These wooden ones weighed a ton, it seemed. It was a real chore to move one.
The newer hutches are easier to keep clean too.
(photo from our family album)
Gear for Your Rabbit - available from Amazon
Keeping the hay in a rack on the side of the pen keeps it clean for the rabbits to eat. They need salt to lick to supplement their diet.
If you just throw the hay on the floor of the rabbit hutch, it gets stepped on, laid on and even messed on. Raising it up with a rack like this makes it easy for the bunnies to pull out what they want to eat. The hay stays clean and untrampled.
Books about Rabbits
Rabbits as a House Pet
When I was in my thirties, I became nostalgic remembering the fun times we had with our rabbits years ago. I found someone who was giving away a house rabbit and I adopted her. It was fun to have a rabbit around the house, though my cats were a little afraid of this full-grown rabbit. She would nip them, so they learned to steer clear of her. When I was at work, the rabbit stayed in a rabbit cage where she was safe from the cats (in case their predatory instincts kicked in).
This is by far the most intelligent and informative resource for those who love rabbits and want the best for them! This book gives rabbit owners practical guidelines into thinking "rabbit" and understanding how to make the best possible environments for rabbits in our human homes. Besides the comedic stories of indoor rabbits and their antics, it also gives concrete advise to solve any rabbit situation that may arise and medical information which can not be found anywhere else. Harriman has the mastered the system for everything "rabbit" and I highly recommend this book. In fact, without this book thousands of shelter rabbits, abandoned and rejected rabbits would never have found the gentle, wonderful second chances they have. My gratitude goes out to this house rabbit effort not only for my own shelter-saved house rabbit, Checkers, but for the others I have had the opportunity to help via Harriman's book and resource. I serve as a humane educator at our local shelter and this book is the core of everything we teach on rabbit ownership. Believe it! (customer review from Amazon)
Do You Raise Rabbits
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One More Rabbit Book to Help You with Your Bunny - available from Amazon
If you're keeping your rabbit in the house as a pet, instead of in a rabbit hutch in the yard, you need to read about the requirements for the health and safety of the bunny in the home.
For instance, rabbits like to gnaw on wood and sometimes will chomp on an electrical cord. This could result in injuries to the rabbit and certainly is detrimental to the electrical appliance.