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Rabbits/Cottontail not thriving


I acquired an orphaned cottontail 5 days ago. I won't waste your time with the details, but I will say that it is TRULY orphaned, there is no rehabilitator nearby and the local shelters euthanize kits if their eyes are still closed. So I am giving it my best shot.

Her eyes are still closed, but her ears are fully erect. Her coat is growing in nicely. She has energy and she is very curious. She is eliminating on her own. Today she passed at least 6 tiny stools during her morning feed.

She is eating a milk blend of Fox Valley Day One and KMR. I feed her 5 - 7 ml twice a day. She could easily drink more, but I don't want to risk over-feeding her. I am trying to contact a local rabbit sanctuary to see if they will donate some cecotropes so I can add them to her diet.

My question: She has not gained any weight in the last 3 days. She remains at 48 grams. That concerns me. Is there anything else I can do or do I just need to be patient while she adjusts to her recent trauma?

Thank you for volunteering your time to answer me.

Dear Sue Ann,

I think you can safely feed her more than 5-7cc twice a day.

You're not going to believe this.  But last night one of our 40 gram babies was suckled by our foster mama cottontail, Shucks, and the baby drank **20CC OF MILK!!!**.  He looked like the Hindenburg!  But he is doing GREAT this morning.

I have seen baby cottontails drink tremendous amounts of mother's milk.  So much you'd think the'd explode. But all they do is grow faster and healthier.

Now note, this is natural mother's milk. I would NOT feed the baby so much formula that he's gigantic, as formula is by no means a perfect replacement for mother's milk.  Lately, I have had good success with combining about 1/2 cup goat milk with 1/8 cup heavy cream, one rounded tablespoon of Multi Milk powder and one rounded tablespoon of Wombaroo Rabbit Milk Replacer powder.  You need to shake well and let it sit for a while so the powder goes into suspension, but the babies LOVE it, and they seem to gain weight very well on this formulation.  Just a thought.

In my experience, a 48g baby could safely get 8-10cc twice a day, IF she will take it, and IF the formula agrees with her.  Baby cottontails are just about the most difficult babies to raise successfully, so I wish you all the luck and success in the world.

Take care, and thank you for caring.



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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:

RULE #1:

Find a rabbit vet at 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.


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.

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

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

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

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