DebMark Rabbit Education Resource

Questions Submitted About Raising Rabbits

Baby Bunny Death.

Question Dear Mr. Waldo:

I have a Dwarf that recently gave birth to three babies, all of which died at different times. One got out of the pen during a rain storm and we assume that she drowned, the other two died at different times for no apparent reason. If you have any information that may be helpful, please forward.

Thank you,

Answer Dear Lewis,

I have had similar problems of dwarf bunnies dying as yours did. Assuming they are under 2 weeks old, if anyone leaves the nest, it will usually die of exposure unless you can save it in time. The other two that are left in the nest may die because there is not enough warmth to keep them alive. Usually, it takes a minimum of 3 rabbits to keep each other warm enough.

If these rabbits are over 2 weeks old, check to see if either they or their mother have diahrea. If so, that will kill them. It is the same as scours in other animals. I make it a practice to give the litter, including its mother, terramycin in the drinking water for 7-9 days. I start this when they come out of the nest box at 18-21 days. If diahrea is present, the mixture is 1 teaspoon per gallon. If no diahrea is present, 1/2 teaspoon per gallon.

Another cause of death is what I call sudden infant death syndrome. This can occur anytime between birth and 3 weeks of age. The cause of death is unknown, but probably was caused by some type of trauma, such as being stepped on or hurt by the mother.

General weakness can also lead to death - not getting enough milk, being lethargic and not fighting for life. Most bunnies that have not yet been fed for the day will dart up if you put you hand in their nest. If they don't, they are a candidate for the grim reaper.

By the time the bunnies' eyes are open, they should have enough fur to keep themselves relatively warm, except in really cold weather.

In dwarf rabbits, if the rabbits are very small (called peanuts), they will not survive more than 1 or two weeks because they carry the lethal dwarfing gene in pairs. Your rabbits should have a 25% chance of having the dwarfing gene in pairs. But every one could have it, or none could have it. We're talking chances here. Their heads will have a soft spot on the top where the skull has not fused together.

I hope this is of help to you.
Dr. Mark Waldo


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This page last updated on 5/1/98