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Rabbits/doe with 2 litters within 4 weeks.


I have an American Blue doe that has two litters approximately 4 weeks apart.  She was bred with a Dutch buck that was about 12 weeks old.  I didn't think the first breeding took the first time and erroneously put them together again 4 weeks later.  It wasn't but just a few days later the first litter made their appearance.  My rabbits have individual "enclosures" rather than hutches.  In spite of placing nesting boxes around she birthed them underground in her burrow. I've done several searches looking for advice.  

I "think" the new litter is only two days old.  I obviously can't get to them.  I "think" the best thing for me to do at this point is to keep my doe very well fed.  She has access to unlimited hay, high quality rabbit pellets and mustard greens and kale left over in the garden.  I have started giving her spinach also.  I've tried to give her a half a tums, but couldn't get her to take it.  I crumbled it best I could and left in her oats and corn flakes.   I try to keep her oats and corn flake bowl full for her also.  

I have thought of catching and enclosing her first litter in another area that the mother can get into, but kits can't get out.
I'd check their tummys daily and if at any point they were not being fed release them to the access the burrow again.  

Your advice would be very much appreciated.  I won't make this mistake again!  Thank you very much.

Dear Cathy,

Yikes.  That's an unfortunate situation.  I hope the male didn't have access to her after the second litter was born, because then you're in for another "surprise".  :(

Yes, I'd give her unlimited food. But not oats and cornflakes, which could promote cecal dysbiosis (  Instead, give her free-choice of healthy foods as listed here:

This is a difficult situation.  The first litter will obviously be able to win out for nipples when feeding time comes, so it might not be a bad idea for you to sequester them away from mama so the new babies have a chance to feed.  Since you can't get to them, you really can't tell how many there are, or even if they are still alive.  Keep track of her nipples, and if they stay swollen and don't look nursed, then the second litter may not have made it.  You can then release the first babies to stay with mama for a full eight weeks, until they are fully weaned.

If there are a lot of babies, you might have to do supplemental feedings, and you can find instructions here:

Remember that the four week old babies are at a critical point now:  they are just starting to eat solid food, and they need the antibodies in their mother's milk even more than when they were not eating solid food.  It will help them develop immunity to new, foreign bacteria while their own immune systems are maturing and "learning" to fight pathogens.

Most importantly, please read:

I hope this helps.



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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

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I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

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Ph.D - Biology
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