How to Tell If Mother Rabbit Is Feeding Babies

How to Tell If Mother Rabbit Is Feeding Babies

Written by: Gemmali Dizor
Last updated on:

Have you noticed your rabbit nursing her babies? The following signs that they are doing so may help:

If you’re a rabbit owner or have encountered a nest of baby rabbits, you might be worried about whether their mother is feeding them. Mother rabbits tend to be secretive when it comes to caring for their young, making it difficult to know if they’re getting enough nutrition. In this article, we’ll look into how mother rabbits care for their young and what signs indicate that they’re being fed – plus what to do if you suspect otherwise.

Mother Rabbits Care for Their Young

Mother rabbits (also referred to as does) have unique ways of caring for their offspring. Here’s what you should be aware of:

Hiding in the Nest

Does create a secure nest for their babies, called kits, by digging a hole or using a nest box. The interior of this cozy den is lined with soft fur plucked from their mother’s chest and camouflaged with hay or grass to hide it from predators.

Mother Rabbits Stay Away from the Nest

Mother rabbits typically stay away from their nest most of the day to avoid attracting predators. They only visit it briefly at dawn and dusk to feed their kits. Although this behavior may give it the appearance that she doesn’t care for her young, she’s protecting them.

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Signs That Mother Rabbit Is Feeding Her Babies

It can be difficult to tell if a mother rabbit is feeding her babies since they tend to do it discreetly. Here are some telltale signs to look out for:

Full Bellies

A healthy baby rabbit should have a round, full belly. Gently rub the kits’ stomachs; if they feel firm and contented, their mother likely fed them.

Mother Rabbits Clean and Dry Their Babies

When mother rabbits visit their nest to feed, they typically clean and dry the kits by licking them. If the kits appear clean and dry, it’s a sign that their mother is visiting the nest to provide nourishment.

Weight Gain

Weigh the kits daily to monitor their growth. Healthy, well-fed baby rabbits will gradually gain weight.

How Often Do Mother Rabbits Feed Their Babies?

Mother rabbits typically feed their babies one or twice a day, usually at dawn and dusk. Each session lasts only a few minutes, making it easy to miss.

Mother Rabbits Might Not Feed Their Babies

Sometimes mother rabbits may choose not to feed their offspring for various reasons. Examples include:


A sick mother rabbit may lack the energy to care for her young. Look for signs of illness in a doe, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or discharge from the eyes or nose.


If a mother rabbit feels stressed, she may avoid feeding her babies. Factors like loud noises, other pets or frequent disturbances can all lead to stress in these small creatures.

Lack of Milk

In rare instances, a mother rabbit may not produce enough milk to nourish her babies. This could be due to health issues or poor nutrition.

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What to Do if Mother Rabbit Is Not Feeding Her Babies

If you believe the mother rabbit may not be feeding her babies, take these steps:

Monitoring Closely

Keep an eye on the nest from a safe distance, without disturbing the rabbits. Look for signs that their mother is visiting at dawn and dusk; if there’s no activity after 24 hours, you may need to intervene.

Aiding with Feeding

If the mother rabbit isn’t providing her kits or producing enough milk, you may need to feed the babies yourself. Consult a veterinarian for guidance on an appropriate formula and feeding techniques.

Consulting a Veterinarian

If you’re uncertain whether the mother rabbit is feeding her babies properly or if the newborns appear unhealthy, consult a veterinarian specializing in small mammals for expert guidance on what steps should be taken.


Mother rabbits tend to be secretive when it comes to caring for their young, making it difficult to determine if they’re feeding their kits. Look for signs such as full bellies, clean and dry fur, and steady weight gain to determine if the kits have been fed. If you suspect the mother may not be feeding her babies properly, monitor closely the situation closely and consult a veterinarian for guidance.


1. How long do baby rabbits stay in their nest?

Baby rabbits typically stay in their nest for two to three weeks. By the third week, they should be able to leave and begin exploring their environment.

2. Can I pet the baby rabbits?

It is best to avoid touching baby rabbits unless absolutely necessary, as your scent could deter the mother from caring for her young. If you must handle them, wear gloves and be gentle.

3. Will the mother rabbit abandon her babies if I touch them?

Contrary to popular belief, mother rabbits usually do not abandon their babies if they’ve been touched by humans. It is still best to minimize contact in order to minimize any potential risks for the animal.

4. How can I ensure the safety of a nest from predators?

For rabbit nest protection, keep the area around it clear of debris and food sources for predators. Also, keep pets like dogs and cats away from the nesting area.

5. When can baby rabbits be separated from their mother?

At eight weeks old, baby rabbits can safely be separated from their mother and begin eating solid food. By this age, it is recommended that they are weaned from their milk-fed mother and eat solid food on their own.

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