Rabbit Week on July, 2023: why are my four week old baby rabbits dying?
Rabbit Week 2023. Hippity Hop, it's National Rabbit Week! it's National Rabbit Week!
Baby rabbits are much more susceptible to diarrhea than adult rabbits because their resistance to diseases isn't nearly as developed as an adult.
The carrots and dandelions may or may not be the cause of the problem. However they definitely aren't helping and they are likely somewhat of a contributor.
To explain, a rabbit's digestive system is designed to retain water and small particles from food. Carrots and dandelions are about 90% water and the food breaks down into tiny pieces. A rabbit's digestive system has two major parts towards the end of it: the cecum and large intestine.
Small particles and water are moved back by little hair like projections in the large intestine back to the cecum for further absorption of nutrients. When the rabbit gets too much of these high water content and low fiber foods too much of that gets returned to the cecum, forcing it to stay too long in the cecum. And just like if you store food too long in the fridge, if it stays too long in the cecum, bad bacteria starts growing on it. The rabbit's system then tries flushing it out (diarrhea) to get rid of the bad bacteria.
Also with that much water and that little roughage, there is not enough dry rough matter to really form solid round poop for the rabbit.
Baby rabbits don't have a well developed immune system. So greens present much more of a problem. Now I'm not saying that greens is all of the problem. I'm just saying that it probably is contributing to the problem some.
Baby rabbits (especially ones kept on solid floor pens) are susceptible to coccidiosis. And they should be treated for that on a semi regular basis. Coccidiosis will normally cause a spotted liver when an autopsy is done. A vet can also check for that by taking a stool sample of your rabbit and examining it.
Two main drugs are used to combat coccidiosis: liquid amprolium and sulfaquinoxoline. The powdered form of amprolium doesnt' work because the particles are too large to be absorbed into the rabbit's bloodstream to work. You have to be careful with sulfa drugs because if too much is used or they are used too long they can cause liver and kidney damage to the rabbit.
I would recommend switching from the greens and carrots to just rabbit pellets, hay and water. The babies will be less likely to get diarrhea. Rabbits love hay and it is great for helping avoid diarrhea with your rabbits because of the roughage and that it is dry. Secondly, I would recommend taking a stool (poop) sample of the babies to a vet to be examined. You might also want to bag up some of that clear, gel like liquid you're seeing. Try to get a fresher stool sample.
Be careful. Many veterinarians aren't all that rabbit savvy when it comes to rabbit medicine. If your rabbit has diarrhea and the vet looks at the rabbit and says, "Oh your rabbit has this or that." And the vet prescribes something without analyzing the stool sample, then the vet isn't doing their job properly. The reason behind that is becasue there are several diseases that can cause diarrhea. Without analyzing the stool sample, a proper determination of what disease is causing the diarrhea can't be determined. And thus, the proper medication can't be determined.
The medication has to be prescribed based on the proper disease. If not, the medication may not work. And worse yet, because it is not the right medicine it could cause the disease to mutate and become resistant to the medication that is known to cure that specific disease. That's why it is ALWAYS important to follow the instructions for administering the drug to a T. Giving more doesn't mean it will fix the disease faster.
I've raised and shown rabbits for over 30 years. I know what I'm talking about. I'm sure there will be people that disagree with me about the veggies. But I know the facts about how their digestive system works and I've raised rabbits long enough and studied rabbit diseases enough to know better.
what can 3 week old rabbits eat?
Rabbits can be fed fresh fruit and veg it just needs to be in moderation because too much of especially lettuce gives them the runs. There should always be mixed pellet/grain mix you can buy a variety of these with different mixtures dried fruit & veg in them etc. Baby bunnies start eating at 2 weeks onwards and can be fed the same as adult rabbits. That said all food needs to be introduced one at a time. Hay, grain mixes, grass, fresh fruit and veg, you should never over feed your rabbit and should feed them according to their size. Think of rabbits like horses they also need the above food in moderation.
As for vets advising against fresh fruit and veg this is wrong. Vets are like doctors. You would not go to a local GP if you wanted breast implants. why? because it is not their speciality same with Vets. A vet who specialises in rabbits, well they are few and far between.
I have had rabbits my entire life my local vet is not a specialist and therefore liaises with one who is 3 hours away from where I live.
what to feed 3 week old rabbits?
Rabbits need the warmth and milk from their mother for 8 weeks. The first rabbit I got was only 6 weeks old and it ended up dying as it was malnourished. (I didnt know at the time that 6weeks was too young and they lady I bought off musnt have known either!)
The mum might not be attached to them anymore though if you have separated her. Does she show any interest in them when you put them together? Ideally she should be kept with them. Maybe a blanket over most of the cage will help with the noise plus they like dark places as rabbits are very timid. As for food, I dont think they will eat pellets yet.. have they touched them? I think you might just have to put mum in with them and hope for the best. Some might die but some might survive. They might all die if you dont.