What (environment) temp is ideal for nurturing a 4 week old kit?

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aldemar

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This little nugget was an orphaned baby and has no siblings or mom. She has been doing well in my care for 2 weeks now with kitten formula. I am wondering what the ideal temperature for her cubby is . I can easily see the veins in her ears - so I know if they become redder - she is too warm, but what is actually best to keep her at.
 

JBun

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At that age, if healthy and fully furred, it would be the same as an adult rabbit. Around 70-75 f is a good temp, with a snuggly cubby to stay warmer or a cool tile to flop on if too warm. If you feel her ears and they feel really warm or too hot, you know she is too warm and steps to help her cool are needed. Better a little cool then too hot.

 

aldemar

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Okay, I have been keeping it around around 80 - but I was thinking probably okay to go less as she is 4-5 weeks now. Shes been choosing to lay on the warming pad... I wasn't sure bc I figured in a typical situation she would have siblings to snuggle up with and share heat!
 

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With the warming pad for her to choose to lay on when she wants to feel warmer, you probably don't need to worry too much if the environmental temp is a bit cooler. That way she has the choice to cool off or warm up. Yes, normally the babies would all pile on each other to keep warm.
 

aldemar

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With the warming pad for her to choose to lay on when she wants to feel warmer, you probably don't need to worry too much if the environmental temp is a bit cooler. That way she has the choice to cool off or warm up. Yes, normally the babies would all pile on each other to keep warm.
Thank you. That was my thinking - so I appreciate the confirmation. Now I am trying to find general info on 4-6 week olds (particularly orphans). Its not easy finding info online. I am seeing to start pellets at this stage - unlimited - but I am starting with 15 or so a day until I see how it goes. She has unlimited alfalfa.
 

JBun

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From one to two weeks, baby rabbits basically start nibbling on the grass hay in the nest. Then once their eyes are open and they leave the nest, they gradually start eating whatever mom is fed.

Grass hay is one of the best foods for baby rabbits to get started on as it is least disruptive to the digestive tract, and digestive issues are what baby rabbits are most susceptible to developing. Alfalfa hay can be ok, but sometimes certain cuts can be too rich and cause digestive issues, but it sounds like your baby bun is fine with it. You also have to watch for calcium sediment in the urine, as alfalfa is quite high in calcium. Have you noticed if the babies urine is very milky looking?


You do want to start pellets gradually, and I wouldn't feed unlimited pellets. It's better to feed mostly hay and limit pellets(if pellets are fed). Pellets have carbs and sugars that can disrupt the digestive microflora if fed in excess, particularly in baby rabbits who are very prone to this. All foods except non grain grass hays, need to be gradually introduced into a rabbits diet to give their digestive microflora time to slowly adapt to the change. And for greens/veg, I would wait until the baby is at least 12 weeks old, since it didn't have a mom eating these things and pass down the needed microflora to digest them properly.


I would start some grass hay like timothy or orchard. And start decreasing the alfalfa as she starts eating more pellets and more grass hay. You want a balance of protein and fiber in a rabbits diet. Too much protein and too little fiber, and it can cause excess cecals and slows the digestive tract. Alfalfa is high in protein, grass hay is high in fiber. And if a rabbit eats alfalfa exclusively, it can make them very picky about their hay and make it difficult to transition them off of it and onto grass hay when they become adults and alfalfa is no longer necessary. So best to start now and get the little bun used to it, plus it's needed.

Also provide a shallow dish of water.
 

aldemar

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Oh thanks so much. The info on the alfalfa is especially helpful. The urine is hard to tell - she IS using the litter box. I will definitely check out the links you included. I have to say I am very impressed with the formation & size of her poops seeing she is still under 1/2 lb ! She seems super healthy though she is gaining weight at a slow rate. She went from 4.5oz to 6.1oz in 12 days ... I would have thought a little more - though she is "filling out" more. I also wonder if she is a "runt" and maybe a little older than I thought. There's really no way to "age" a baby is there? She is a white domestic rabbit that was found in someone's yard, no others found with her. I wonder if she comes from a line of rabbits someone raised for meat/pet food & she got away - GOOD FOR HER !!!
 

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You can post a photo here, and we should be able to give you a general idea. Usually baby rabbits have certain facial features at certain stages, that can help identify the approximate age they're at.

Her growth rate may be affected due to the fact she doesn't have mothers milk to assist her growth and immunity. So I wouldn't be surprised for her to be a little undersized. Does she seem nice and rounded along the back, and not boney or have a pot belly?

If you aren't finding white or creamy white residue spots on top of the litter, then her urine is probably fine.
 

Deludedbyreality

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You've accurately pegged her age, she is indeed within the 4-6 weeks range, I second Jbun's comments above. You seem to be doing fine. You can always add some goat's milk or a little bit of heavy whipping cream for the extra calories to the kitten formula but you will probably only be on that for another month or 2. Rabbit milk is very calorically dense. I'd push timothy hay for sure, and an alfalfa based pellet until about 6 months and see where she is growth wise. At 3-4 months transitional veg would be some cilantro, dill, basil, romaine, red leaf, green leaf to start at that time rotating in some higher oxalate greens like parsley & kale. Dandelion, plantain (the plant, not the thing that looks like a green banana), chamomile flowers, wild raspberry bush leaves, are ok to start @ this time as well, just be careful about the amounts of them, the first two have higher amounts of protein so decrease pellet amounts by half on the days you feed those.
 

JBun

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I'm guessing closer to 6 weeks, though possibly even older. It will also depend on what she looked like when you found her 2 weeks ago. If she were to be 4 weeks now, then 2 weeks ago she would have barely been learning to walk and would have had very short fur.

Not a meat breed. Too slender in the head.
 

aldemar

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Thank you both! Good to know she wasn't destined as a meat bun :) So from what you both have said, I would definitely say she is 6 weeks. 2 weeks ago her fur was (just a tad) shorter but she walked just fine and actually was pretty quick even then. This is all so helpful. Can I follow up with a "behavior" question? She will calm with a little effort - but she is a little gymnast & aerialist trying to running away from me. I do not pick her up "from above" ...I avoid the Predator type moves - lol. But is this a typical behavior ? Not sure how being an orphan may influence her behaviour - she didn't have much time with mom or siblings. I realize every rabbit is different. I am expected a baby bun at 6 weeks to be a lot more submissive ?
 

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Because she may have been born out in the wild, she was essentially feral for the first few weeks of her life. So this will have an impact on her behavior. I would expect her to still be a little skittish with her only having been with you a couple of weeks. I would imagine that will diminish the longer she's with you.

Something that can help you build trust with her and reduce that flight response, is trying not to pick her up unless absolutely necessary. If she needs to be moved, teaching her to go into a pet carrier by using her favorite foods, is a better way to do that. It's actually a pretty common adult rabbit behavior, to not like being picked up. So it would be good to get a start on changing how you handle and move her now.

These links also have some tips on how to develop a closer bond with your rabbit. And understanding rabbit body language is helpful too.



 

aldemar

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Again, Thanks. I assumed getting her "used to" being handled was the way to go though I know not many rabbits "enjoy" being held. I am looking forward to reading thru the links.
Thank you for all the help.
 

aldemar

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And its been on my mind......no possibility she is a wild albino rabbit ? How would I know?
 

Deludedbyreality

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She very well could be, structurally that would fit but you will be able to tell more easily once she hits puberty. Her face is very angular and ears are shorter than most red eyed whites I've encountered, small body too. Could be that she is a cross with a dwarfing gene with malnutrition definitely being a factor from the separation from Mom too early. She's also in that preteen stage age wise @ a lower weight than normal.
If rabbits are not handled a lot from birth they will be more skittish. No, babies are full of energy once they leave the nest. Always one of my favorite times in their growth cycle. They are full of zoomies and random binkies that sometimes seem to even suprise them. You'll see them from her once she learns that she is safe and acclimates.
As Jbun mentioned who knows how long she has been out in the wild. Babies are lucky to survive on their own at that age for any length of time. Yours was very lucky to have been found by you; being white she would've stuck out like a sore thumb for predators.
 

aldemar

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i will have to post pictures in a few more weeks too ! So once she hits puberty … what do I look for to distinguish ? This will be interesting to see how it plays out I should surrender her to a wild rabbit rescue if she ends up to be a wild rabbit …. but I can’t imagine she could be realeased into the wild being all WHITE ! Maybe they have permanent sanctuary buns . This will be interesting how it plays out !
 

Deludedbyreality

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The likelihood that she is an albino wild rabbit is incredibly slim. It is possible but the percentage rate is exceedingly low. After being handraised and experiencing in home care, however, as a domesticated rabbit and for an extended period of time she would not be a proper candidate for release even if she were. Wild rabbits need to be handled very differently than domestic rescues. Are you planning to keep and raise her or surrender her to a sanctuary? If the latter I would explore options in your area as soon as possible so she has an easier time getting into routine and environment.
You will be able to tell based on skeletal structure and proportions once properly weighted. Also a rabbit savvy vet can help you as well.
 

aldemar

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Yeah - its a bit of a dilemna - besides the whole "handling" think - I also can't see releasing a WHITE rabbit into the wild as she would be a sure target. But yeah - she just HAS to be "domestic" (???) I actually AM a foster parent & "fostering" her for a domestic rescue - she will be my 16th or so foster for the organization- but my first BABY BABY They have not been able to see her in person yet ... They will be pretty adept at identifying her -hoping to get her there in the next two weeks for them to see her in person. As far as keeping her - if she IS domestic and Mister will accept her I would. Mister is my 2 yr old neutered male lop - but he has been rather choosey and he has complete run of the house - so I would not be willing to confine him to take on another house bun. I house the fosters in a different area than he resides. I cannot introduce her this young of course and normally I would wait until even AFTER she gets spayed - but that is months out ...not sure what will be age is appropriate for THAT :) I will need to discuss with the Rescue .
 

Deludedbyreality

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Yeah I hear ya. I thought you were referring to a wildlife rescue. Confinement during the bonding process would however be necessary. Separate rooms during free roam periods, all that jazz, just to ensure no mishaps. I have 3 that I've been trying to rehome for ages here on the Eastern Shore of MD. They just aren't a popular pet here though. While I have no issues walking through adopters that are serious and leaving our contact open ended people just aren't interested in them if they aren't lil ones. There also aren't any local rabbit savvy vets here ( I've seen all of the ones in the area and know more about rabbits than they do lol) nor sanctuaries as a result of this. I have to travel over 3 hours to get to either. You're very lucky to have one accessible and doing great things for those in your care. 😁
I really do think it's just as I posted previously, however, it's likely somewhere in the gene pool she has some dwarf mixed in for smaller breed plus some malnutrition and in that awkward junior body growth spurt. Could just be a red eyed white and smaller bc of the separation...You'll know better once that spurt is over. They grow incredibly fast from baby stage to puberty, although, you'll see that for yourself here soon and be missing it. 😆
 

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