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Raising Baby Bunnies

Updated on July 16, 2016
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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.

Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits, 4th Edition
Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits, 4th Edition

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 scrapbook page featuring 4-H memories from my rabbit raising project.
My scrapbook page featuring 4-H memories from my rabbit raising project. | Source

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

4-H Fair ribbons for rabbit raising
4-H Fair ribbons for rabbit raising

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.

Mini Encyclopedia of Rabbit Breeds and Care: A Color Directory of the Most Popular Breeds and Their Care
Mini Encyclopedia of Rabbit Breeds and Care: A Color Directory of the Most Popular Breeds and Their Care

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?

 

Dutch Rabbits

These are miniatures when compared to the large breeds like the New Zealand Whites. My littlest sister, Shannon, raised these.

A Dutch Rabbit

One of Shannon's Dutch bunnies.
One of Shannon's Dutch bunnies. | Source

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.

Source

New Zealand Red Rabbit

My sister Karen raised New Zealand Red rabbits. They were quite handsome. Here's an example of one.

Lionhead Rabbit

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.

Source

California Rabbit

My older sister, Susan raised this breed. The markings remind me of Siamese cats.

When the mother and father of a litter of rabbits are from different breeds, you end up with a mixed batch like this. So cute, but suitable for pets or for meat, not for show.
When the mother and father of a litter of rabbits are from different breeds, you end up with a mixed batch like this. So cute, but suitable for pets or for meat, not for show. | Source

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.

rabbit hutches
rabbit hutches

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.

Kaytee Hay Manger with Salt Hanger, Colors Vary
Kaytee Hay Manger with Salt Hanger, Colors Vary

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).

House Rabbit Handbook:  How to Live with an Urban Rabbit, 4th Edition
House Rabbit Handbook: How to Live with an Urban Rabbit, 4th Edition

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

A House Rabbit Primer: Understanding and Caring for Your Companion Rabbit
A House Rabbit Primer: Understanding and Caring for Your Companion Rabbit

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.

 

Don't You Just Want to Hug a Bunny!

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    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 3 years ago

      I rescued a lop ear rabbit from my brother's garage one time. The water in 'Thumpers' pen was frozen - the kids didn't care about him. I took him and rehomed him to a sister-in-law on my the husband's side who gave him an excellent life.

    • profile image

      acreativethinker 3 years ago

      Love bunnies, one of my favorite pets. These are all so adorable. Thanks for sharing. Take care :)

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @heytoto: I'd brought back my ribbons some years back. Not sure if the ribbons might be in the boxes of Mom's papers. The trophies... I have no idea.

    • heytoto profile image

      Karen Kolavalli 4 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      Thanks for filling in some of the gaps in my memory of that time, Ginger. Our rabbitry was quite a big deal--and a lot of work! I remember carrying up their crockery water bowls to unthaw and refill in the early mornings before we headed off to catch the school bus. I wonder what happened to all our ribbons and trophies--did Susan sell them at Mom's estate auction? :-(

    • profile image

      icedropice 5 years ago

      Great and detailed lens

      i enjoyed your videos especially 4 Day Old Baby Bunnies, can you upload video of freely running bunnies.....

      i also have a little and similar lens! Rabbit Cages

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      They are adorable when about 2 months old.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Very cute bunnies. We raised them as kids too! Fun times.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Love all the bunny stuff here!

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 7 years ago

      Nothing quite like babby bunnies! Love the video!