Tuesday, 7 October 2014
What is hand rearing?
Hand rearing means feeding a baby a rabbit milk replacement formula,
and providing the other needs/care that would normally be provided
by the Doe (mother rabbit).
Does the baby bunny (Kit) really need to be hand reared?:
Rabbits only nurse their young once or twice per day for a short
time (5 minutes or so).
If the babies have rounded bellies, then the doe is feeding the
kits...no need to interfere.
But occasionally there are situations when hand rearing is needed.
For example: the doe died, the doe is sick, the doe isn't feeding
the kits, the doe attacked a kit and/or killed litter mates.
First things to do:
Try to find someone who is experienced with raising rabbit kits:
(rehabbers/breeders etc.). There is a very low incidence of survival
(0 to 10 percent) in this situation so the rabbit is better off with
someone who knows what they are doing, it is as lot of hard work,
If you are going to do it yourself:
Provide somewhere for the kit to live, a box will do for a young
kit. Warmth is needed, use heat packs but put the heat pack up one end of
the box only, covered by a towel. This is so the kit can move
towards or away from the heat source. Reheat the heat packs as often
as necessary. A quiet/stress-free environment is extremely
important, (stressed rabbits die very easily). The best thing for an
orphaned rabbit baby is to try to find a "rabbit" foster mother
(another nursing doe...slip the foster kit in with her litter and
she should hopefully treat it as her own).
Keep the box clean.
Rabbit milk replacer or kitten milk replacer, 1ml and 2ml syringes
(I tried bottles and teats but found it very difficult to get the
right sized hole into the teat and the kit wasn't strong enough to
suckle on the teat), electrolyte replacer (pedialyte), probiotic
such as acidipholous powder (the best probiotic is a fresh cecotroph
from a healthy rabbit), cotton balls/towels, tissues. Simethicone (infacol)
liquid form is best (just easier really...my personal choice).
I used human baby bottles to make up the formula and I warmed it by
sitting the bottle of milk in some hot water (not microwaveing it as
this may destroy some of the vitamins in the formula).
A container of warm water to use after feeding to clean and
stimulate the kit to defacate/urinate.
Feeding and Care:
The formula I used was a product called "Rabbit Milk Replacer" made by a company by the name of "Wombaroo", here is their email address: email@example.com or a supplier of this product's site: http://www.healthy-bird.com/ or: http://members.iweb.net.au/~hbird/eutherian.htm
Once the kit is in a safe environment, the formula needs to be prepared.
But before this is done, all equipment needs sterilizing, and some water needs to be boiled (sterilized), and cooled (for making up the formula or using to make up pedialyte).
Make up the formula according to the directions on the pack and add
some probiotic powder, and some simethicone liquid to the milk.
~The probiotic helps by crowding out bad bacteria (a fresh cecotroph
is better as it coated with mucous and is less likely to be broken
down in the stomach therefore making it into the intestines where it
The simethicone (used for human babies with colic, found in the baby
section of a chemist/supermarket)
~ it helps by forming larger gas bubbles...more easily passed by the kit,
and helps to prevent "bloat" and the pain associated with gas in the intestinal tract (the gut). Remember pain can be fatal.
When all the equipment is in easy reach, sit down and hold the
rabbit in a comfortable position for you and the kit...relax...(the
kit will feed more easily if you are relaxed and feel organized).
Now with a syringe full of milk, direct the tip of the syringe to
the cheek (you want the milk to go to the stomach, not the lungs).
Depress the plunger slowly, and allow time for the kit to get the
idea, he will start to swallow/lick the milk and eventually will be
strong enough to suck the plunger down, then you'll need to get used
to quickly refilling the syringe to keep up with the kit's
demands...this is a great sign. If the kit sneezes milk out of the
nose, don't panic just wipe the milk away as he sneezes and allow
the kit to recover, then keep feeding.
One of the most important things is not to "over-feed the kit". Once
the belly looks rounded, stop feeding, the kit may even turn away
and refuse more milk...stop here.
The next thing to do is to take a cotton ball dampened with warm water. Clean the face...anywhere milk has dribbled, do this before moving on to the belly again with a warm water cotton ball wipe the belly very lightly to stimulate gut movement, then wipe the genital area to stimulate passing urine and faecal matter, don't do this for too long as irritation may occur,
this also cleans the area or urine and solids.
It is very important to begin at the face when cleaning the kit, and not begin cleaning at the genital area as this will prevent transfer of faecal matter form the anus to the mouth, and help to prevent transfer of any harmful bacteria, which may cause illness. Always wipe from a clean area to a dirty area, not the other way around, to prevent transfere of harmful bacteria.
Feed the kit every 4 to 6 hours, depending on how well the kit is
feeding. When raising newborns, they will usually need to be fed 3 hrly around the clock and a regular intervals.
Reheat the heat packs, and return the kit to his box.
Every situation is individual, common sense and knowledge
play a huge part in the survival of the kit. Learn all you can.
A daily weight is needed to ensure the kit is healthily gaining
weight, the more accurate the scales the better. (The scales I use
are digital and weigh to within 2 grams). Weigh the kit at the same
time each day.
Weight loss can be a first sign of trouble.
Expect some weight loss or a slow down in weight gain when the kit
Check the hydration status if necessary (whether the kit has enough fluid in its system) by pinching gently some skin, if it goes quickly back into position, then the rabbit is well hydrated, if it is slow or sticks together, the rabbit needs more fluids. Either pedialyte via syringe (orally) or possibly by injection of Saline 0.9% or Hartman's solution under the skin. (80 to 100 ml/kg/24hrs).
Signs of Trouble:
You need to be very aware of signs of illness as rabbits who are ill
hide these signs very well, and the sooner you realise the kit is
unwell, the sooner treatment can begin (get the kit to a vet) and
the better the chance of survival.
A kit that is not as active as usual, or has some "runny poops",
needs treatment immediately, the longer you wait, the less likely
the kit will survive.
Illness and Treatment:
I'm only going to address a couple of things here (otherwise the
list could be endless).
Lose stools: The vet should do a "faecal culture/float" to check for
pathogens in the gut.
Metronidazole (an antibiotic) was used on the kit I recently had,
within 4 hrs he was back to normal (but I was advised to stop the
milk and only give pedialyte for a couple of days), then back onto
milk, and he was starting to nibble hay and pellets.
I've since been advised that stopping and starting milk is actually
not a good idea as the gut starts to change an going back onto milk
can cause more problems, so sometimes it is better to allow the kit
to wean early.
If it is eating/drinking/peeing/pooping, then all is well.
Gastrointestinal Stasis is a huge killer of rabbits, but there are
medications which can get the gut moving again (metoclopromide and
Gentle massage of the belly also can help to get things going again,
be very careful doing this as internal organs could be damaged if
not done very gently). (A rabbit that doesn't have an active bowel
for 24 hrs can die).
Lung infections may be caused by the milk going into the lungs
instead if the stomach...this is treatable with appropriate
There are lots of other potential problems, one more worth a mention
is coccidiosis (a faecal float will show this), and lots of good
bacteria (probiotics) can help here. (vet attention needed too).
The kit (when it starts to venture out of the nest box (by this time
he needs to be housed in a much larger cage) should have access to
hay, pellets, water, greens.
It will begin to eat and drink in the same way it would if still
with the doe (it would have had access to the doe's food).
Usually, kits are nursed by does for 7 to 8 weeks, but it may be
necessary to wean earlier if the kit had had problems with diarhea,
this is because swapping of milk then back onto milk can cause more
problems than were present already.
Long term Prognosis:
When kits start out this way they can have long term problems, but
if the kit hasn't had feeding or health problems, and weans onto
solid food with no complications, then they are pretty much on the
road to a good life.
At 2 to 3 months if there have been no gut problems, the kit should
If they have had trouble ("gut" problems, other health problems, and
trouble weaning on to normal food), then it may take until the age
of 5 to 6 months before the rabbit is OK, even then it may need life
time close monitoring for the slightest sign of health problems and
its life span may be shortened.
Pain can kill a rabbit, so pain control may be necessary. (again...a
trip to the vet).
Don't forget lots of exercise when old enough (this really helps the
intestines to keep moving, as well as the other developmental
advantages (muscles/bones/mental development) .
Lots of handling and love (if the kit is well), even if not well,
gentle handling by one person will help enormously with the
psychological well being of the kit.
This is especially important if it is only one you are raising...no
siblings for comfort.
Written by Andrea (Angie) Fenton, Aug, 2002.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 0419 500 497
For permission to copy/print/publish (etc.) all or part of this article please contact me at email@example.com.
Friday, 30 August 2013
Currently the list of entrants is here in my Ravelry group: Ravelry group: angies-studio-hand-dyed-yarns-australia .
If you would like to become an entrant in this competition, its easy, just pop your name here in the comments section here, OR over in the ravelry group.
I would love it if you joined us in there but its not a requirement.
I'd also really appreciate you joining (liking) my facebook page here: Angies Studio .
I have posted in my facebook group that if you share the post about this competition, I will give you an EXTRA ticket into the draw for a $50- voucher.
Just let me know you've shared the post (I'll be able to look though and see who has shared, but if you use a different name over there, I'll need to know).
This is all pretty confusing hey?
Basically, pop your name down in the Ravelry thread, or here for one entry each.
For an extra entry SHARE this post on facebook,
and write in the comments underneath: "shared".
I'll be doing an old fashioned type draw of pull a name out of a hat with the help of my kids at around Midday on Sunday.
After which there will be a sale (which means the winner will get more bang for their buck)!!!
More info. on the sale coming up.
And oh gosh, I do confuse myself, please comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you don't understand.
Monday, 19 August 2013
Thanks so much everyone!!!
Saturday, 19 January 2013
Saturday, 12 January 2013
Wednesday, 9 January 2013
Monday, 31 December 2012
Pop your name and email here in the comments section to go into the draw for a New Year's Day giveaway.
The prize will be drawn if Angie's Studio gets to 1000 likers by Midday, 1st, Jan. 2013.
I'll use random.org to choose the winner tomorrow afternoon.
The prize is your choice of 200g of wool from my YARN FOR SALE album, and I'll cover postage, worldwide...yay!
Oh and you will need to have liked my page on facebook, thanks.
Happy New Year,
Tuesday, 17 January 2012
To celebrate making it to 500 likers, I am having a give-away.
To go into the draw to win a skein of my yarn, just put your name below here in the comments section.
I will draw a winner next Monday, 23rd Jan.
Pop your name below here and as long as you are one of my "likers" on facebook Angie's Studio and reside in Australia, you are eligible to win.
Friday, 30 December 2011
I’ve moved around a fair bit with my yarns, knits and crochet for sale so this is just a quick note to say that my stuff is available for sale in my little Facebook shop Angie's Studio.
There is an album of yarn and an album of ready made “ready to go” knits and crochet.
I also have a sale on right now which finishes New Year’s Day. The sale gives free postage Australia wide.
Please let me know if you would like to view the albums or buy something but are having problems. My email is email@example.com or you can comment below here.
Thanks everyone for your support :)