What to feed a baby cottontail rabbit

Very cute but high-maintenance. (Photo: Flickr/Susan Adams)

Q: My friend has a baby cottontail bunny that she is trying to raise. The baby is 10 days old. What should she feed this rabbit and when is a good time to wean it to solid foods?

A: It's very kind of your friend to care about this bunny. It's very difficult to raise orphan rabbits. Even when you do everything right, the often die. A lot of times, they seem to thrive for a week or two, then suddenly dies.

Here is a link with detailed instructions on caring for orphan cottontail rabbits. Here's a summary: Goat's milk is the closest substitute for rabbit milk. You can often find it in health food stores. It is usually combined with some other ingredients, including Kitten Milk Replacer, to make a formula. There is no perfect replacement for rabbit milk, Feeding the wrong food is a common cause of death. Overfeeding is another.

As soon as the bunny's eyes are open, it should be introduced to solid food. Wild rabbits live on greens -- grass, dandelions, clover, violets, etc. Make sure the greens come from an unsprayed lawn. The bunny should not be fed carrots, apples, or rabbit pellets. Grass hay is fine. It will gradually nibble on more and more, and the formula can be slowly reduced. It's a good idea to give some probiotics. Bene-Bac is a good one available in pet stores.

But the very best thing to do with the bunny would be to turn it over to a wildlife rehabilitator. If you friend will consider this option, this link could help.

-- Answer from Anna N., a biologist and veterinary assistant on Pearl.com.

Daily Answer is excerpted from the Pearl.com archives and features information provided by a professional on Pearl.com.

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Also, never place in a box where they cannot see out. This makes them lose the will to live because of the total confinement, after all, they are creatures of the wild. Good luck.

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