Rabbits/eaten babies

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Question
Hi.  I am writing, because my grandson's rabbit gave birth to 5 kits yesterday morning.  1 was dead when we found them, 1 died overnight, 1 was still alive, but she ate the legs and ears off the last 2.  My question is; how much pain do these babies feel when they're being eaten alive?  We took the last baby from her, even though we know it will probably die, we feel it will be better than it being tortured by the mother.

Answer
Dear Bonnie,

I am sorry about the tragic loss of the baby bunnies.

It is impossible to know what pain the babies feel.  The mother was not doing this out of aggression.  A stressed, young mother rabbit who feels trapped will overgroom her babies to the point of mutilation.  The fact that she did this suggests that the conditions of the birth were less than ideal.

Please read:

http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/surpriselitter.html

and

http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/breeding.html

which will help prevent a situation like this from happening again.

As for the lone survivor, it would probably be most humane to take him to a vet for gentle, humane euthanasia if all four legs are gone.  It will be pretty much impossible for him to live a normal life unless someone is willing to carry him around and give him 24-hour care.  You can find a vet here:

http://www.rabbit.org/vets

If there are any legs remaining, the baby might have a chance at survival.

I am very sorry.

Dana

Rabbits

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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

Expertise

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:

RULE #1:
THE INTERNET IS NOT THE PLACE TO SEEK HELP IN AN EMERGENCY.

...it is an EMERGENCY.

Find a rabbit vet at www.rabbit.org/vet for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.


RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.

Experience

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.

Organizations
Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Publications
Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Education/Credentials
Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology
(http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare)

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