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Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Addressing the special needs of the breeding doe and her kits. Includes nutrition, gestation, nest boxes and materials, and tips to ensure survival of the young.
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Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Single-rabbit-mom » Thu Apr 16, 2015 4:43 pm


Hi,
so I'm new to this forum so I apologize if this is in the wrong forum, but I have been taking care of recently orphaned Cottontails. They're definitely orphaned as the mom was killed by my friends dog. She saw the mom was dead and called me over to take care of them. I used to bring French Angoras so she knew I experience. I know the best thing would be to get them to a wildlife rehabber so I've called all within a 20 mile radius of me, however, none have gotten back to me.

I acquired them 4 days ago and have been feeding them a mixture of 1 part goat milk and 1 part heavy whipping cream. I also have a domestic pet rabbit and I've been collecting her Cecotropes and feeding them to the babies each day so they can acquire the bacteria needed for the cecum.

Now, the reason I made this post is because I know Cottontails are extremely hard to raise and almost always die. I've already had one die, and believe me, I want nothing more to bring them to a rehabber and give them their best chance, but right now there's nothing I can do. I want to know any and all stories of successfully raising orphaned Cottontails. I also want to know if my formula I'm feeding is adequate and if i should continue feeding them my pets Cecotropes.

To give you an idea of how old they are, one just opened their eyes, and I know they open alot earlier then domestic rabbits so I'm estimating their age to be around 5-7 days.
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Re: Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Zass » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:04 pm


I've never raised cottontails, but I have had fed kits before and had some success with it.

You can read out main threads on the topic, and the discussions about formula here:

formula-feeding-baby-bunnies-pics-vids-t3691.html
tips-for-handraising-kits-t2486.html


I probably wouldn't have fed cecotropes from my own rabbits, mostly because my buns might carry disease pathogens they are resistant to, but that the wild rabbits might not have ever been exposed to.

There are probiotic powders that are a bit more safe, like benebac.

If your rabbits have been only pellet fed, not been getting fresh greens regularly, the bacteria in their cecotropes may not help the babies convert to a wild diet. Something to think about.

The heavy cream would help with the fat content, and baby rabbits do need that. But the fats in cows milk are a little different than the fats in goats milk, and consequently they are more difficult to digest. You can see Miss M came up with a formula that used concentrated goats milk and egg yolk instead. I have definitely had better luck with that than anything else I've tried.

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Re: Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#3  Unread postby MaggieJ » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:04 pm


Ha! I see that Zass has snuck in front of me! But that's good... She is very knowledgeable.

It's a tough assignment but it sounds like you are knowledgeable and doing all you can. All you can hope for is to give them their best chance. Don't beat yourself up if it doesn't work.

Once their eyes are open they will begin to need to eat the kinds of greens they would find in the wild. We have a Safe Plants list that will help you.
safe-plants-for-rabbits-list-t55.html
While this list is geared to feeding domestic rabbits, much of the information comes from observing cottontails and I think it should all be perfectly safe. In addition, I recommend giving them grass hay and small amounts of kitchen oatmeal (large-flake, like Quaker Old-Fashioned). Oatmeal is easily digestible and will help keep them satisfied. They also need access to water. Offer these things and they will begin eating them when they are ready.

As far as formulas go, these threads should be helpful.
formula-feeding-baby-bunnies-pics-vids-t3691.html
tips-for-handraising-kits-t2486.html

I see Zass has listed these too!

Good luck! Hope the lil guys make it. :good-luck:
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Re: Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#4  Unread postby Single-rabbit-mom » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:22 pm


Thank you both for responding so quickly. I'm in the middle of feeding them right now. I'm gonna try to switch over to the formula in the link and hope for the best.

I have heard of using probiotic powders in their formula but as a starving student, I don't have the time or the money to find and buy any, so I'm hoping my pets will be good, and I have been trying to keep her on as little pellets as possible and giving her more fresh greens to stimulate a wild rabbits diet, at least for the time being.

As I said earlier thank you both so very much for your responses, they were very insightful. I would also still love to hear from anyone that has raised Cottontails before as I know they differ from Domestic rabbits in many ways.
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Re: Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Dood » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:30 pm


Here is a paper on the chemical composition of rabbit milk - http://www.wrs.upv.es/files/journals/14.4maertens.pdf

I've raised orphaned cottontails in the 90's but only had about a 20% success rate :( however, kitten and puppy milk was the norm back then. I know many members have successfully formula fed domestic rabbits and can offer more current info

Cow fats are long chain and harder to digest so if you can find condensed goat milk instead it would be best.

They do not require cecotropes until they start eating solid foods so I would hold off on them as you don't want to overwhelm them with bacteria until theyve got the fibre in their intestines to support the colonies

With rabbits the stress and fright is what normally gets them so try and do just one feeding a day - just like mom would do - and I always tube fed them as asperating milk into the lungs was a big killer of young orphans

Good luck

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Re: Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Single-rabbit-mom » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:15 pm


Photo on 4-16-15 at 6.00 PM #2.jpg
Photo on 4-16-15 at 6.00 PM #2.jpg (326.76 KiB) Viewed 873 times
I'm attempting to post pictures to show you their size, I don't know but they seem small for their age. Also if anyone lives in the McHenry/Lake county area of Illinois and knows of any wildlife rehabbers that could take these rabbits, please share, I want to give them their best chance and a rehabber would greatly increase their chance of survival.
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Re: Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#7  Unread postby MaggieJ » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:16 pm


I wish you had put something in the photo to help us gauge their size-- a ruler, a cigarette pack or something we could relate to. Remember that cottontails even as adults are small, rather slender rabbits. At a glance, these guys look okay to me, but that's all I can say.
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Re: Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#8  Unread postby Zass » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:59 pm


I see a sock and a ...cell phone? They are little bunnies. I have no idea how big they should be.

I was given a cottontail that had it's eyes open once.(a dog had killed the rest of the litter)

It was so tiny, it escaped between the bars of the rabbit hutch I had placed it in, and I never saw it again. (yeah, I know, not so helpful :oops: , but at least it suggests being tiny compared to domestic rabbits is normal for them. )

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Re: Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#9  Unread postby akane » Thu Apr 16, 2015 8:19 pm


I think they look about right if their eyes are only opening. Cottontails are quite small. This guy and his sibling that didn't make it were fully eating solid food when the dog carried them in because the cats had found the kits still hanging out near the nest and started killing them.
Image
Image
Image

Too bad you aren't a little more west. I have a very good mother who might raise them despite being a dwarf with a good sized litter already. She was still feeding her last litter with her new litter until I separated them.
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Re: Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#10  Unread postby Susie570 » Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:47 pm


I've been told, not sure how true, that once the 'white spot' on their forehead is gone, they are old enough to forage and survive on their own.

These do appear younger than that though, I would guess maybe a week old or slightly less.

-- Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:47 pm --

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Re: Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#11  Unread postby Single-rabbit-mom » Fri Apr 17, 2015 8:43 am


Sorry I didn't even think about putting something to gauge their size, their is the cellphone which is just a regular iPhone. I feel better about their size now, thank you, However, I have 2 babies that are refusing to eat. They were eating fine before but now they'll take half a dropper full of milk and then refuse the rest. I've tried warming them up because I know they're more inclined to eat when warm.

Does anyone have any tips to encourage eating?
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Re: Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#12  Unread postby MaggieJ » Fri Apr 17, 2015 10:16 am


Have you given them the solid foods that were recommended? They may be more willing to nibble at those.

You could also try making a mush of the kitchen oatmeal with the formula so they can get some nourishment on their own time.

Other than that, I don't know what to suggest. :( Sorry I'm not more help.
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Re: Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#13  Unread postby Susie570 » Fri Apr 17, 2015 10:58 am


Single-rabbit-mom wrote:Sorry I didn't even think about putting something to gauge their size, their is the cellphone which is just a regular iPhone. I feel better about their size now, thank you, However, I have 2 babies that are refusing to eat. They were eating fine before but now they'll take half a dropper full of milk and then refuse the rest. I've tried warming them up because I know they're more inclined to eat when warm.

Does anyone have any tips to encourage eating?


Be sure to read the link I posted above. It gives detailed instructions for raising orphaned Cottontail rabbits.
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Re: Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#14  Unread postby Single-rabbit-mom » Fri Apr 17, 2015 3:48 pm


MaggieJ wrote:Have you given them the solid foods that were recommended? They may be more willing to nibble at those.

You could also try making a mush of the kitchen oatmeal with the formula so they can get some nourishment on their own time.

Other than that, I don't know what to suggest. :( Sorry I'm not more help.


Thats a good idea, I'll try it. I've already tried giving them oatmeal and they do nibble at it a little bit.
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Re: Orphaned Cottontails. URGENT!!!!

Post Number:#15  Unread postby akane » Fri Apr 17, 2015 4:16 pm


Make sure the milk is staying warm enough. Rabbits are extremely sensitive to the temperature of the formula and if it cools while you are feeding multiple droppers they will stop eating. I put some in a water bottle container, put that in a bowl of the hottest water that comes out of the tap, and then pour small amounts in to the bottle cap to suck up. I even took a litter with me to arkansas from Iowa in a backpack. The doe prolapsed her uterus and died so I scooped the whole nest up and shoved it straight in to a backpack. We borrowed a mug warmer and converter to plug in to the car. I kept the milk warm that way while on vacation feeding them in the car, the hotel room, and the house the rest of the family was staying at.
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