Orphans & Spinach Babies

by Terry Pierce

ORPHANED BUNNIES: Do not over handle babies or try to feed too much too frequently. Try giving a small amount about every 4 hours cutting back to twice a day (morning & night) when they are eating well. You can successfully raise a two week old and will feed It until about 5 weeks when it will start to refuse feedings - at this time you will have water, pellets, & oatmeal for the baby to eat, also possibly a little grass hay or clean straw.

You will need to gently swab the anal area with a warm water soaked cotton ball to stimulate urination and defecation for the first week or two if the baby is very young.

It takes a lot of time and patience. The greatest dangers are aspiration (forcing liquids too fast and causing the bunny to choke or get into its lungs), pneumonia, hypothermia, and diarrhea.

You can use a small bottle from the vet or feed supply house or a baby nursing kit (Linda & David Pett of CA also carry these) which also has instructions and works real well.

Keep the baby in a box with shavings and warm soft material (or even some of the nesting material). Keep it out of drafts. You may want to put a light over the box for extra warmth the first few days. Keep the box size relevant to size and age. Obviously an older bunny needs more room. When my baby out grew its box I put it in a larger box with shavings and cut the front down on its little box and set it in for a bed. Then it graduated to a carrying cage with the dividers removed, feed dishes, and a small "blanket" to lay on. "Sweet Pea" now runs around the house with our Cocker Spaniel, Buffy, and is 8 weeks old. Tender loving care can save that little one, and you will have a fun little friendly bunny.

SPINACH BABIES: Suddenly you have an orphaned bunny to raise; or you have a 3 week old that sits in the back and seems to be wasting away; or you realize a doe's milk is not good while she is still feeding a young litter; or maybe you have a large litter and one or two babies just aren't getting enough to eat. When you can't foster to another doe, what do you do? Baby food spinach to the rescue. Several of us have successfully raised young babies two weeks of age and older by patiently feeding baby food spinach with a syringe (without the needle). Put a drop on the baby's mouth and let it lick it off; another drop and so on. It takes time and patience to feed at first. The baby has to learn to like the spinach and get used to eating it.

You will need to feed several tiny amounts a day the first day or two, then as it eats more at one time you can cut back the frequency until you feed just two times - morning and night. As the sole source of food or drink a lot of us have successfully raised several babies that would have otherwise died into healthy youngsters, with no diarrhea problems. The additional bonus is how sweet the little bunny becomes.

It is messy so have a soft tissue handy to wipe your little green piggy with. It is sure funny to watch the baby beg for its goodies as it gets used to the spinach, and how fast and how much they can eat at a time. If you can get the baby to eat the spinach you can usually save it. So keep a jar of baby food spinach on hand. You never know when you may need it!


FORMULA 1. Sharon Sprague via Dr. Stephen Kinney:

1 cup milk
3 Egg Yolks
1.25 TBSP Light Corn syrup
1 Drop oral multiple baby vitamin
Pinch of Salt
Place in Blender and Blend. Warm 95 to 100 degrees.

FORMULA 2: Vet Book "Orphan Rabbits, Hares, and Pikas" pg 175

1 Egg Yolk
240 mi Canned Evaporated Milk
240 mi Water
5 mi Honey
5 mi Pediatric Vitamins

FORMULA 3: Vet Book "Orphan Rabbits, Hares, and Pikas" pg 175

120 mi Can Evaporated Milk
120 mi Water
15 mi Karo Syrup (Light)
1 Egg (optional)

This one I used on a 2 week old successfully:

13 oz. can Concentrated Liquid Baby Formula
5 oz. can Evaporated milk
5 oz. Water
1 TBSP Honey
2 Eggs Beaten

HLRSC Official Guidebook - 5th Edition 2002