11 Reasons Why Baby Rabbits Die Suddenly

One terrifying thing for pet owners is losing their beloved companions. This is even more frustrating if the death is premature. Such instances include losing baby rabbits.

It is usually unimaginable joy when a rabbit litters but the challenge is to take care of the kittens. Kittens are very sensitive to the slightest environmental changes, diet, or infections.

Unlike mature rabbits which manifest signs when they are dying, baby rabbits succumb to death even without a clear reason. 

In this article, we will discuss reasons why baby rabbits die suddenly. We will also share some tips on how to avoid premature deaths in bunnies.

Reasons Why Baby Rabbits Die Suddenly

Reasons why baby rabbits die suddenly

Common reasons why baby rabbits die suddenly include separation anxiety, extreme cold, heart attacks, pneumonia, gastrointestinal stasis, hereditary diseases, unhygienic environment, and mishandling.

a). Hereditary diseases

Hereditary infections are one of the major causes of death in baby hamsters. Some of the diseases that baby hamsters can inherit include heart problems and high blood pressure.

Unethical breeding may also cause genetic complications in baby rabbits. Examples of unethical breeding include mating rabbits that have existing genetic disorders or rabbits that are too young to litter.

b). Change of environment

You may have newly acquired baby rabbits from a friend or bought them from a different place. Adapting to the new environment may be a difficult challenge for the kittens. It is therefore advisable to seek as much information as you can about the previous environment. This can help you set familiar conditions to which the baby rabbit is accustomed.

c). Separation anxiety

Bunnies may exhibit distress when they are newly separated from other rabbits or their previous owner. It’s normal for baby rabbits to crave companionship if they are used to other pets or animals around them.

Stress in baby rabbits can cause several health complications and at extreme levels may be fatal. If you just acquired the bunny, you should make an effort to pet it regularly or get a companion for them. 

d). Extreme cold

Low temperatures remain one of the common reasons why baby rabbits die. Kittens are born without any fur on their skin. This makes it hard for them to retain their body heat. When it becomes extremely cold, the baby rabbits lose a lot of heat and may succumb to premature death.

e). Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a contagious infection that is caused by one or more bacteria or viruses.

Some pneumonia-causing bacteria include chlamydia and staphylococcus aureus while the herpes virus causes viral pneumonia. When the infection attacks baby rabbits, it is signified by fever, sneezing, and breathing problems.

If pneumonia is accompanied by stress such as lower temperature, the kitten may end up dying.

f). Heart attacks

Wild rabbits are prey animals whose fright instincts are quite high. While this is an important survival mechanism in the wild, domesticated rabbits may not cope well when scared. Domesticated rabbits are likely to develop cardiovascular diseases since they are not exposed to their natural environment. 

Baby rabbits, in particular, are sensitive to sudden startling events causing fright attacks. In other cases, the kitten may have been born with heart problems. Heart disease is difficult to detect making it one of the reasons why baby rabbits die suddenly.

g). Mishandling

Improper handling may also cause premature death in kittens. Cases of mishandling kittens are more common to first-time pet owners whose rabbits gave birth. The pet parent may not have an idea of how to hold a baby rabbit and apply pressure to sensitive parts leading to sudden death.

The same scenario can happen when a doe is a first-time parent. The rabbit may step on its litter in the nest causing sudden death to baby rabbits.

h). Unhygienic environment 

A dirty rabbit cage can be a breeding zone for infection-causing organisms that may be fatal to your pets.

An unhygienic rabbit environment may have accumulated poop and urine which may increase levels of ammonia in the cage. This may cause respiratory problems in baby rabbits and if not solved, the kittens may die.

i). Parasite infestation

Rabbit babies are normally born with parasites that they inherit from a doe. The parasites exist in the digestive system without affecting the kittens. However, if the levels of parasites get too high, they may affect the digestive system. 

Parasites such as coccidiosis may cause death to baby rabbits when they attack the liver.

j). Gastrointestinal Stasis

GI stasis is a common health issue among baby rabbits caused by the blocking of the digestive system. Intestines blockage is in most cases a result of improper diet.

When the intestines or the gut is blocked, digestion is either slowed down or completely stopped. This creates an environment for bacteria build-up and eventually gas is released into the intestines. At this stage, you may notice bloating and reduced appetite. The baby rabbit eventually loses weight and dies.

k). Lack of natural milk

Milk from a doe is fundamental to its litter before you introduce them to solid food. The kittens will solely depend on the doe’s milk twice a day for 2-3 weeks. The milk provides the baby rabbits with nutrients and has friendly bacteria that prevent gut infections in kits.

If the kittens are orphaned, the alternative milk may not provide the baby rabbits with the nutrients vital for their survival. This may eventually cause sudden death in baby rabbits.   

How to avoid sudden death in baby rabbits

If your baby rabbits have succumbed to sudden death previously, it could have been caused by any of the reasons above. 

These are some tips you can apply to avoid premature kits death in the future;

Comfort  Baby Rabbits

Keeping the kittens comfortable can reduce any form of distress affecting your pets. Some measures to observe include providing ample space for baby rabbits to play in and a dark place where they can hide in case they are afraid. You should also make sure the nest or the hutch is not too cold.

Observe hygiene

Keeping the baby rabbits in a clean environment is the most effective way to avoid sudden deaths. Regularly clean the cage by removing the rabbit’s poop daily. The cage should also have a drainage system that flows urine outside the cage. You should also clean feeding and drinking bowls daily.

Find a companion for them

You may not always be around to comfort a bunny who you just acquired. Rabbits are social animals that like to be with other animals or humans. Getting a companion pet can help baby rabbits cope with withdrawal stress.  


What to do with dead baby rabbits?

Use gloved hands to pick up the dead baby rabbits and put them in a biodegradable bag. You should then dig a pit that is several feet deep. Place the dead bunnies in the pit and something heavy on top before filling the pit with soil.

How do I keep my baby rabbit warm?

There are several methods to keep a baby rabbit warm. You can simply hold the pet and keep it close to your body or warm its cage. Warming a rabbit hutch is done using a heating pad, heat lamps, or bottles with hot water. 

Why are baby bunnies hard to keep alive?

It is difficult for baby rabbits to survive especially if they are orphaned. Bunnies depend heavily on their mum’s milk which has immune-building bacteria essential for their survival. In addition, baby rabbits are susceptible to digestive problems and irreversible shock.

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