You must first get the bunnies weight in GRAMS!
How much to feed (A Guideline - Approximations)
| BUNNIES WEIGHT
||4-5 X day
|30g - 40g
||4 X day
|40g - 60g
||3 X day
||5 cc (Bunny should be nibbling by now)
||1-2 X day
|90g or more
||**Bunny should be weaned or almost weaned
Use a 1 cc medication syringe to feed. You can pick one up at a feed store, pharmacy, Dr’s office, or Vet’s office. It will give you much better control than eye droppers or other devices, and you will be less likely to cause aspiration (sucking formula into the respiratory tract). Bunnies will not “suck” a nurser bottle. The best way to feed a bunny is to drop the formula (using the syringe) just under the nose at the “split” of the mouth, drop by drop, and let the bunny lick it off. As he figures out what you are doing, he will begin to lap the formula faster, and then you will be able to administer the formula as fast as he is taking it. Always wait for the bunny...never feed him faster than he is lapping.
Bunnies require a formula very high in fat. In the wild, their mother’s milk is so rich that she need only feed them 2-3 times in a 24 hour period. Since we cannot duplicate this, bunnies in rehab situations should be fed more often when they are very young (4-5 times a day). As they grow, you will increase their formula, and decrease the number of feedings in a day. Bunnies grow very fast, and you should weigh the bunny every day or two to ensure he is gaining weight. If he is not growing rapidly, something is wrong, and you should contact a wildlife rehabilitator immediately.
Goats Milk Esbilac (GME) Powder (by PetAg). Can be purchased at Atwood's, Petsmart,
Tractor Supply, or your Veterinarian. It can also be ordered online at sites like http://www.upco.com or http://www.squirrelsandmore.com.
GME Powder - 1 Part
Hot Water - 2 Parts (Double the water part for first 2-3 feeding to avoid diarrhea during the ransition from mothers milk)
Heavy Whipping Cream - 1/4 part can be added for a little extra fat & protein.
Note: Bunnies like their formula very warm, almost hot!
FOODS BUNNIES LOVE (WILD) – Pick Fresh Daily
Clovers & Wildflowers (stems & flowers)
Dandelions - The green leaves of the plant - not the fuzzy part of the flower.
All types of natural grass: Bermuda, St. Augustine, Pampas, Johnson, etc.
“Dole” Spring Mix (contains Escarole & green leafy lettuce) ABSOLUTELY NO ICEBERG LETTUCE - It compacts in the digestive tract and has no nutritive value.
As soon as the bunnies begin to nibble, start them on dry oatmeal. Quaker Oats (the quick 1 minute kind) work great. The bunnies like dry oatmeal, and it is good for their digestion. A good quality rabbit pellet can be mixed in with the oatmeal as well. Baby carrots, apple, sweet potato, & squash can be given as treats and may work as an appetite stimulus in VERY SMALL amts - NOT TOO MUCH OR YOU WILL DISRUPT THEIR DIGESTIVE TRACT.
Remember: keep the diet as natural/wild as possible. The goal is to prepare them for return to the wild.
EYES OPEN ABOUT 10 DAYS OLD
Start giving a small amount of fresh water in a jar lid or other small, flat bowl. They should start nibbling on the grasses, oats and pellets around this age. Pick greens fresh daily—even if they don’t seem to be nibbling—they will!
HOW & WHEN TO RELEASE:
Watch the weather forecast and try to release at a time when several days without rain, severe cold, or bad weather are expected in a row.
Locate an area with lots of high grass, underbrush, and access to a lake or pond. RELEASE @ NO LESS THAN 120 GRAMS or about 1/4 pound body wt – Approx 6 to 8 weeks of age. (They will be hopping around in the box like popcorn at this age and try frantically to get away from you when you approach or try to handle them. These are excellent indicators that they are ready to go).
SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT BUNNIES:
When bunnies are rescued at a very young age (eyes closed), they are VERY DIFFICULT to keep alive. There are several reasons for this, but one of the main reasons is that mother cottontail rabbits provide their babies with something called “cecotropes.” The mother produces this and feeds it to her babies in order to prepare their digestive tract to eat greens. Some rehabilitators have domesticated rabbits on hand in order to collect cecotropes to feed to cottontail bunnies at the appropriate time. Without cecotropes, most young cottontail bunnies will develop diarrhea and die around the age of 2 weeks when they begin to nibble on greens and oats. Therefore, it is strongly suggested that if you find an eyes closed bunny, you contact a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible to give the bunny the best chance at survival.