Hand Raising Baby Rabbits: post from October 2008

glissade-baby-1-dayNot easy. And not always successful. Sadly, when my doe Glissade kindled on September 13, there were only three babies. One was dead, one was questionable, and one looked pretty good. Within a day, the questionable baby had died. The ‘pretty good’ one was thriving. However, Glissade was a bit of panicky mom and kept jumping in and out of the nest box. I was worried she would injure her remaining baby. On top of that, she was overfeeding it to the point of bursting. By day two, I removed the remaining kit and brought it in to the house for safekeeping.

Single kits are difficult to keep alive. Being alone, they can chill easily. Being only one, it’s hard to keep mom’s milk supply up. At first that wasn’t a problem. Mom had plenty of milk. Since I brought the kit in the house, I needed to bring it back out for feeding. Or bring the doe in for feeding. Since she was a little over zealous in the care department, I opted to bring her in and feed the baby in the house on my lap.

To get her milk to let down, I injected some Oxytocin. It works pretty well under these circumstances. Inject into the large leg muscle, wait a few minutes, put mom on her on her back and put baby to teat. If you only have one kit, it’s good if you can move it around to stimulate a few more teats into milk production.

This method worked well for a few days. However, I could tell that after about a week, milk production was drastically reduced. Not surprising. Oxytocin doesn’t create more milk, but causes milk to let down. If there were more kits to stimulate milk production, it wouldn’t be a problem. By day 10, mom was pretty much out of milk.

I had a few options here, although having never done this before, I called a few folks who had. It seems everone I talked to had a slightly different recipe. Margie uses one with KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer), Pedialite and heavy cream. My friend Charlene suggested KMR for puppies, actually Esbilac for puppies. I liked the idea of goats milk although Margie mentioned not to use raw goats milk. She had an issue with kennel cough in the entire litter when she used it. It was from a local person who apparently had some contamination.

Initially I used the KMR and goats milk with a little heavy cream for calories. Now finding the perfect recipe is one thing; finding how to get them to take it is another. Thankfully this baby was strong. Really strong and really hungry. And by now it was not a brand new baby. I tried one of those kitten baby bottles. It worked okay, but the nipple was too hard and big. Then I used a 1 cc syringe. The baby could take it okay as long as I didn’t drown it trying to push the formula through the syringe.

The problem was the 1 cc syringe. This baby was sucking this stuff down in no time flat and every time I had to stop and refill, took time. Also, while I was refilling the syringe, the kit lost it’s feeding rythym. A few days later, my friend Alexis turned me on to Chris’s Squirrels , a squirrel rehab site. They have some great nipples in all sorts of sizes.

I ordered this sample set. The one I like started with at day 17 was F, but put that nipple on the 10cc luer lock syringe. I also found some Esbilac Goat Milk Replacer on this website. Used for puppies that can’t tolerate the Puppy Milk Replacer. Goat’s milk is easier to digest, but does have less fat. I also found the goat milk replacer locally, so switched over to that.

Here is the baby at 17 days. She is small, but strong.

Today, she is now about 20 days old, I started adding some Esbilac Puppy Replacer to her Goats Milk replacer. She is taking in about 10 to 15 ccs per feeding. I have started feeding her twice a day now since she is acting starved. I have also put some thinly sliced apples and a little broccoli in her cage. She has a dish of King Feed rabbit pellets and some oats. A small dish of water is placed in her cage. Oh, and every day or other day, I give her a few ccs of yogurt.

And she has a name: Oona.

At this point, I don’t even have to hold her for her to feed from the syringe. She takes this in about a minute.

She is almost three weeks old. She is starting to eat some hay, and she loves her apples and oats. I am hoping she will start on pellets soon.

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