DebMark Rabbit Education Resource

Questions Submitted About Raising Rabbits

Mother Rabbits Eating Their Young.

Question I you could possibly help me with some answers I would really appreciate it. I'm raising angora rabbits and I've got 1 female I can't trust with her babies. She eats them. She has plenty of food and water, but there must be something I'm not doing, or something she needs. If you have any ideas or information I would really appreciate it.

Thank you for your time.


Answer People that raise a lot of rabbits occasionally come across a doe that eats her young. If this is her first or second litter, she may be forgiven for she knoweth not what she doeth. But if she eats babies with each litter, there's no sense in breeding her anymore. There is no known cause or cure. The problem is that rabbits do not have the same motherly instinct as dogs or cats who will protect their young. Some does will simply neglect their young and let them die. The majority of does, however, once they get the knack of things, will take care of their babies to the extent that their limited instinct will allow them. For instance, baby rabbits must remain in their nest box and not come out of it until they're ready because the mother will not take them back into the box.

As far as any rabbit eating a baby rabbit, sometimes it will think that a baby rabbit is a mouse or something and destroy it. Sometimes stress may cause a rabbit to eat its young. Some think that there is something lacking in the diet. In case this is so, offer some alfalfa hay occasionally. If the doe eats the babies as she is giving birth, I think it is because she doesn't know what is coming out of her and will eat the babies as she would her afterbirth. This is caused by inexperience being a mother, though, and she should be given another opportunity.

In any case, do not tolerate a doe eating the young after her second or third litter.

Dr. Mark Waldo


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This page last updated on 5/1/98