I find when hand feeding Orphans
that each animal is an individual. My hand
feeding article is a guideline but as you
will see in Fiji's story I had to adapt to the bunnies needs.
Steven's Tiki gave birth to a kit I named Fiji.
Fiji's siblings were peanuts and died a day after birth.
Being alone in the nest box was difficult for Fiji, she had to keep herself warm and try to get her mom's milk to come-in
without the help of siblings.
I tried to help Fiji by placing her mom on my lap and allowing
Fiji to nurse morning and in the evening. Tiki was a patient doe/mom and
Fiji did well for the first 4 days. Her mom's milk seemed to be coming
I left Fiji to nurse on her own for the next 3 days. Fiji had grown larger but
at 7 days
old she had lost interest in nursing. Tiki's Milk seemed to have dried
up. By the next
day Fiji was in trouble and I had to act fast. I went to pet
and bought powdered Esibulac Puppy milk replacer.
I watered it down for the first 2-3 days.
I placed a thick padding of flat newspaper in the tin/metal nestbox
under the nesting material.
I then put a heating pad under Fiji's tin nestbox and turned it on to
medium heat and monitored the heat carefully. Fiji seemed
a lot happier being able to fully rest in the warmth of the nestbox.
Note: I would not recommend
wooden nest boxes. They are to thick to put the heat pad under it and
too insulated to put inside. The heating pad set on low seems to get
much too warm inside a wooden nest box. If you don't have a metal nest
box that you can put a stack of folded paper in then get a cardboard box
and put the heating pad under it.
I continued to feed Fiji 4 times a day. Sneaking home from work to feed her
during my lunch break.
mother continued to provided care by washing Fiji and monitoring the
nest box heat. Tiki would uncover her kit if she felt the nestbox was
getting too warm.
Fiji's eyes started to open at 10 days. By 14 days I cleaned her
eyes off, they crusted shut in places. She was fine after that.
By the time Fiji was just under 3 weeks old she started to
nibble hay. By 4 weeks she was eating hay and pellets. This became
Baby rabbits that eat solid foods need milk to control their PH
levels in their digestive tract. If they don't get the milk they run the
risk of enteritis or inflamed intestines.
However if I fed Fiji too often or she ate in between formula
feedings she risked bloating. Bloating is caused by kits eating too much
or too often. The food isn't processed in a timely manner and gas builds
up. Bloating is very often fatal. It can cause the stomach to twist or
the gas build up can put pressure on the heart and lungs killing the
kit. Rabbits can't burp so bloat is very serious.
At 4 weeks old one evening Fiji started to bloat. I ran to the
drugstore and bought human Oval infant colic drops. I was careful to
give Fiji just a couple drops of the Oval. There are warnings not
to overfeed Oval but it doesn't say what will happen in you do. I wasn't
going to take a chance by giving to much. Then I waited and prayed she
didn't twist her stomach. For the next 2 days Fiji was reluctant to have
her milk and was lifeless. I was concerned she'd twisted her stomach or
had a blockage.
I went back to watering down her formula to keep her hydrated. I
fed her 3 to 4 cc per feeding of the watered down formula for the next 4
days and continued feeding her a drop of Oval at each feeding. Fiji suddenly came around
one evening and demanded her formula. I wasn't going to take chances so
I fed her only 4 cc then the next feeding I fed her 5 cc until she was
back to 6 cc per feeding.
Fiji weighs 7 ounces.
I slowly started to put her back to regular strength formula.
Soon after Fiji was back to regular formula she started to bloat again.
She was fussy about the formula. I had to give her a couple drops of
OVAl at every feeding. I started to offer her Mint leaves from my
garden, parsley and washed carrot tops along with timothy hay. I don't
normally feed kits greens until they are a lot older, in Fiji's case I
was concerned with dehydration. She did well on the high fiber greens and hay.
I allowed her to choose how much milk she wanted to drink during
feedings. She averaged 16 to 18 cc per day and I cut her back to 3
feedings a day. She struggled with the longer hours in between feedings
even though I slowly increased the time until it was 3 times a day. This
meant getting up in the night at weird hours until I converted her
feeding time over. I continued to give her Oval at feeding time. She
seemed to have developed a sensitivity to the formula and at this point
I was too afraid to change to goats milk formula.
I had to go for an overnight trip on a sailboat for my daughter
birthday. I was stuck with what to do with Fiji since I didn't have
anyone who could feed her 3 times a day. She had so much trouble with
converting to 3 feedings I was concerned about her missing a meal or
bloating under someone else's care. Therefore I packed her up along with
her mother. Fiji and Tikki went to my daughter's Luau party. She didn't
do well. It was hotter on the boat than at home. She wasn't very
interested in formula. I got two feedings into her and she ate mint,
parsley and a small chunk of red watermelon. I noticed her eating pellets and hay. She
didn't seem to mind the change of scenery but her mom was stressed. When
we got home they were back to normal.
Fiji is 12 ounces at 6 weeks old. She was gaining an ounce a day
until I cut her feeding back to twice a day. She slowed her gain to 1/2
an ounce per day.
She's being fed twice a day at 6 to 7 cc of formula per feeding.
In the last 3 days I've noticed she's starting to grow out of her
bloating. I still give her OVAL , mint leaves and timothy hay.
She is growing into a lovely little show bunny and I hope to have
her here for a long while.
7-8 weeks old
is weaned but still living with her mom. She is now 1 pound 8 ounces and
Almost too well. LOL