Welcoming baby rabbits to the family is a beautiful experience. However, things don’t always go according to plan, and sometimes baby rabbits don’t make it. Keep reading this article to learn how to tell if baby rabbits are dead and what you can do in that situation.
How Do You Know If Baby Rabbits Are Dead
Bunny newborns have a relatively low mortality rate at the start of their life – less than 20%. However, that number increases to around 50% between four and eight weeks after birth.
Rabbits are the safest when they turn three months, as the mortality rate dramatically drops after that. This is why you should keep an eye on the very young rabbits.
If you notice something strange in the kin, you may wonder if they are dead. Here are some signs that can tell you whether or not the baby bunnies are alive.
There Is Blood Around Baby Rabbits
If there is blood around baby rabbits, unfortunately, the chances of them being alive are very slim. If the bunnies are covered in blood, it probably means that some predator injured them. Since baby rabbits are very gentle and fragile, those injuries can very easily lead to death.
Baby Rabbits Are Not Moving
Newborn rabbits make soft noises and wiggle a lot, so lack of movement usually means something is wrong, unless they sleep. If baby rabbits are not moving, don’t automatically assume they are dead – check their breathing first.
Baby Rabbits Are Cold To Touch
If the baby rabbits are not moving and you suspect something is wrong, you should check their body temperature. Don’t press on them because newborns are very delicate, but gently stroke one of the exposed parts of their bodies using one finger.
If you notice that the baby rabbits are unusually cold, they are probably dead. Another reason for this could be hypothermia, and, in this case, you should act immediately to warm them up.
Baby Rabbits Are Not Breathing
The most indicative sign of baby rabbits being dead is a lack of breathing. You can bring your head closer to the babies and carefully listen to hear them breathe. If you don’t hear anything, the baby rabbits are probably dead.
You Can’t Hear Baby Rabbits’ Heartbeat
Heartbeat is another indication that your rabbits may not be alive anymore. When you listen to the breathing sound, try to hear the heartbeat as well. Sadly, if you can’t hear either, there is nothing you can do anymore.
Mother Rabbit’s Behavior
Mama bunny’s behavior can tell you a lot about her newly-born children. If the bunnies are alive and healthy, she feeds and licks them. If the bunnies are unwell or dead, she may ignore them altogether.
Therefore, if the baby rabbits are not moving and breathing, but you are still unsure whether they are dead, look at the mother to get the answer.
Why Do Baby Rabbits Die?
It can be very distressing to welcome baby rabbits into the world, only to see them die soon after. It is an unfortunate situation, but you can prevent it to an extent.
Sometimes there is nothing you can do, but if your rabbit is about to give birth, it’s good to know some common causes of baby bunnies dying. This way, you can be prepared to act immediately if needed.
One of the most common reasons baby bunnies die is extreme cold. Adult rabbits do well in cold weather, but the same can’t be said for baby bunnies.
You should adjust the room’s temperature according to the baby rabbits rather than to their mother. The room they are placed in should be warm and dry. If it is cold, baby bunnies can die of hypothermia pretty quickly.
Even if baby bunnies are born healthy, they are at risk of catching some viral diseases in the weeks following their birth. Considering that their immune system is not fully developed, these diseases can become fatal quickly.
To avoid this unfortunate occurrence, keep them separated from any other animals that may be sick. You should even separate them from their mother if you think the mama rabbit has a respiratory illness.
Baby bunnies can die from malnutrition if the mama rabbit doesn’t breastfeed them enough. You should make sure that the mother rabbit gets all the necessary nutrients and minerals through the food to encourage good milk production.
If the mama rabbit doesn’t feed her kits for whatever reason, take the matter into your own hands. You can make a baby rabbit formula or feed them goat milk, whichever is more accessible to you.
Baby rabbits can get killed by various predators, such as foxes, birds, coyotes, raccoons, and more. A mama rabbit may be able to escape this kind of situation, but baby rabbits are helpless and not mobile enough to do so.
If a predator attacks baby bunnies, there is a lot of blood on the scene, so it’s far from pleasant to discover it. To prevent this, keep the newborns and their mothers away from the potentially dangerous animals.
You should either keep them inside the home or in the closed, secluded shed.
Stress And Fear
Bunny babies are highly sensitive to the environment around them. They are so frail that extremely loud noise or sudden aggressive movement can frighten them to a heart attack.
This doesn’t happen often, but you should be careful around newborns. Don’t make sudden movements and avoid shouting and yelling when you are near them.
Baby rabbits’ bodies are just developing, so their skeleton is quite delicate. You shouldn’t pick up baby bunnies if there isn’t a necessary need.
They can also get scared and too stressed out, so it’s best if you leave their mother to take care of them. Start interacting with them only if you see that the mother isn’t feeding her children or if you suspect a disease among the newborns.
This is probably one of the most disturbing scenarios, but mother rabbits sometimes eat their young. The good thing is, this doesn’t happen often, and when it does, it usually means that the baby rabbit was already dead.
Mothers eat the dead babies, so the remains don’t attract predators. However, in sporadic cases, mothers get so stressed out that they eat a live baby because they don’t know what else to do. You should keep the mama rabbit happy, calm, comfortable, and healthy to prevent this.
Can You Revive A Dead Baby Rabbit?
Resuscitating a dead baby rabbit is unfortunately not possible. However, if a baby is in a grave condition but still breathing, you can take some measures to ensure that it survives.
If you notice that the baby rabbits are dangerously cold, they may appear dead. Their skin can be cold to touch, and you may not hear them breathing. In this case, you should take them inside immediately.
Don’t separate them from the mother in the process, and be as gentle as possible. Wrap them in warm blankets and keep them comfortable until they start wiggling again.
Baby rabbits should live in a warm environment until they are around three months old and resistant enough to withstand cold weather.
In case you notice that the kits have been infected with respiratory disease, you should take them all to the vet immediately. It would be perfect to invite a professional to your home if possible.
Traveling can be stressful for bunnies, especially when they are babies and sick. The vet can give them meds and the care they need. The baby bunnies can survive and continue growing normally with a little bit of luck.
What To Do With Dead Baby Rabbits?
If the baby rabbits have unfortunately died, there is not much you can do except remove the bodies from your home or yard. You have two options in this case.
Dispose Of The Bodies
The first option is to dispose of the bodies. You should take a sealable bag and something to pick up the bodies. Place all of the remains in a bag, seal it, and put it in the trash outside your house.
The corpses of bunnies can smell bad, and they may also carry bacteria and infections, so you should get rid of them as soon as possible.
Bury The Bodies
Another option is to bury the bodies. You can bring them to a pet cemetery or do it in your yard if you prefer. Dig a relatively deep hole and place the corpses in it. Cover the hole with sand and soil and maybe mark the place with a hand-made monument.
This is a good option if you get attached to the baby rabbits and need to say a proper goodbye to them. Keep in mind that this process may be difficult, so try to do it with someone you love and can talk to.
You can tell if baby rabbits are dead by checking their breathing, listening to their heartbeat, and touching their skin to check their body temperature.
If the bunnies are suffering from hypothermia or respiratory disease, you need to act immediately, and you may have a chance to save them. However, there are some things you can’t have control of, so If the bunnies are dead, you should dispose of the bodies outside of your house.