When can baby rabbits be picked up and touched? (instructions on how to pick up correctly)
Finally, the long-awaited rabbit offspring is here.
Admittedly, the babies that have just been born are really cute. Therefore, it is more than understandable that you can hardly wait to cuddle and interact with them.
However, keep in mind that it must be well thought out when you take animals out of their nest for the first time or if it makes sense to do so at all.
In this article we would like to explain to you from when you are allowed to take baby rabbits in your hand and touch them. In addition, at the end of the article we will tell you how to pick up the animals properly to avoid stress.
At what point is it allowed to pick up and touch baby rabbits?
If you own a doe with baby rabbits, it is highly advisable that you do a nest check after birth. So you can (theoretically) touch the baby rabbits right after they are born.
The word “nest check” means that you check if the babies look healthy and lively.
If you find that one or more babies did not survive the birth, you should carefully remove the dead offspring from the nest.
Keep in mind, however, that the birth was very stressful for your doe and both she and the babies should get as much rest as possible.
For this reason, you should make sure in advance that you build a good bond with your doe.
To avoid unnecessary stress, touch the baby rabbits as much as necessary, but as little as possible.
If you notice that your bunny gets upset or even aggressive when you tamper with the nest and the babies, it is advisable to back off and wait a few more days.
Only if a baby rabbit obviously needs help, it is okay if you devote yourself to the baby despite the “ban” of the doe. After all, no one is helped if the animal ends up dying!
For the fun of it, you should never stress your doe.
Tip: Sometimes distracting your doe with an extra good treat while you check the nest can work wonders!
What do I need to keep in mind regarding touching?
If you want to do a nest check, there are certain things to keep in mind.
First of all, you need to know that freshly born baby rabbits have little to no odor of their own. Thus, they take on the scent of the nest and thus the scent of their mama.
Mother rabbits only take care of their own offspring. They recognize this offspring mainly by their own smell.
If you reach into the nest of your female hare and grab the babies, their scent will be covered by yours. As a result, the doe may well stop caring for the little one and literally reject it.
However, here the opinions diverge strongly.
While some rabbit breeders are of the opinion that this rule only applies if the babies smell like fox and co., other breeders are of the opinion that the mother rabbit can also show this behavior with human smell.
To avoid this possibly occurring problem, you can rub your hands a little with bedding from the enclosure.
This will also make your hands smell like the doe – so you are always on the safe side.
As we all know, better safe than sorry!
It certainly also plays a role how long and well the doe already knows you. Familiar smells that do not pose a danger will probably be accepted much more readily than foreign smells.
Nevertheless, you should not pet and touch the animals unnecessarily, because even the dearest rabbit mother can become grumpy sooner or later if you constantly have your fingers in her nest.
Picking up baby rabbits: A no-go?
In principle, unnecessary lifting of baby rabbits should be avoided.
However, it is necessary to check the nest from time to time and to check the development and health of each baby.
When checking the nest, always check the weight of the baby – you may have to feed one or more babies a little.
Important: Baby rabbits should always be put back in their nest after the check!
It may happen that you find a baby rabbit outside the nest. In this case, it is likely that it was taken outside by its mother when it was drinking milk and hanging on the teat.
The mother rabbit will not bring the baby back to the nest on her own, nor will she continue to care for it outside the nest.
So if you see a baby outside the nest, put it back into that very nest – there the mother will take care of it again!
Depending on how small the baby is, it will starve to death without your help or – depending on the enclosure and temperature – it will freeze to death.
Especially freshly born babies without fur are very susceptible to hypothermia and urgently need the warmth of the nest, the mother and the siblings.
How do I lift a baby rabbit?
If it is necessary for you to lift a baby rabbit, there are a few things to consider here as well.
Here you will find a detailed step-by-step guide to ensure that lifting the animal is a positive experience for both parties.
- change of perspective
Before you pick up the baby, you should be aware of how your appearance looks from the rabbit’s point of view: You are a true giant compared to the little baby!
Since rabbits are very fearful by nature and baby rabbits have not yet had any positive experiences with humans, it is now up to you to give them these experiences and alleviate any fears that may arise.
- get on eye level
If you have successfully carried out the change of perspective, you will probably have already thought about the fact that it is not advisable to reach for the rabbit from above.
Therefore, go to eye level or at least sit down.
This way you are smaller and appear much less threatening to the small animal. In addition, you have the advantage that you do not have to lift your rabbit so far above the ground.
Before you reach for the rabbit, you should just sit in the enclosure for a few minutes so the animals can get used to you.
- be calm
Avoid frantic movements and loud noises at all costs.
Speak to your animals in a calm voice and move slowly so that they can judge your movements at all times.
This way you will make your rabbits feel safe and you will see that they will quickly become more trusting and even curious to come to you on their own – provided they are old enough to already be so mobile!
- handle the rabbit with care
Now it’s time to get down to business: grab the rabbit with one hand under the creek – just behind the front legs – and with the other hand supporting it by the bottom.
Now you can carefully lift the animal.
Caution: Your grip should not be too strong, but it should also not allow the rabbit to fall down if it suddenly struggles!
A little tact is necessary here.
Do not lift your rabbit – no matter if it is a kitten or an adult – by the ears, the neck, the legs or the tail! This is painful for the animals and also dangerous!
- do not panic on the Titanic!
If you find that the rabbit is really panicking, you should gently put the animal back into the enclosure and try again at a later time.
It is not good for you or the rabbit if it associates being lifted right at the beginning of its life with panic and tremendous stress.
- ensure maximum safety
To prevent your rabbit from falling to the ground or jumping out of your hands, it is advisable that you hold the animal as close to your body as possible – ideally so that it can rest its paws on you.
This way your rabbit has a ground under its paws even “in the air”, which gives it security.
In addition, you will be able to hold your rabbit better if it starts to fidget.
- it’s going down again
Now that you have finished your examinations, it is time to carefully place the rabbit back into the enclosure.
Again, avoid letting the animal jump out of your hands!
The rabbit’s bones are still very soft and can break quickly. Once the rabbit has its feet on the ground again, you can give it a treat to bring the whole thing to a positive conclusion.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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