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How to Estimate the Ages of Young Bunnies

March 20, 2012

Unlike horses, sheep, goats and calves it’s difficult to ‘age’ a rabbit by their teeth. This can mean if you’re looking at an adult giant chinchilla, you don’t know if it’s 8 months old, a year old, 3 years old or older – it’s up to the honesty of the breeder or owner.

Some “rescues” are giving dishonest information – ok I will go so far as to say outright lying to people, claiming their veterinarian backed it up and breeders just don’t know as we don’t spend enough time with our animals. If that has any shred of truth, there are many veterinarians who are also disseminating wrong information.

The truth is there is NO RABBIT ALIVE that is 3-5 pounds at 7-10 days old. It just doesn’t happen. No matter what a rescue says, or a vet says – it just doesn’t happen. I’ll show you here, as we have several litters of different ages, how that’s true. Now keep in mind this is a large bred rabbit – their adult weight by a year old is over 12 pounds! Some reach that at 7 months, but are nowhere close at 7-10 days. As you can see for yourself their almost month old babies are not even close to 4-5 pounds that look like adults.

This can also provide some guidelines for those who find baby bunnies in the spring. If they’re eating and drinking like the older litter, leave them be. If they’re little with no hair and eyes closed, they’re under a week old – leave them be unless you know for sure the mama is dead. Once their eyes are open, they’ll have hair and will need another week or so of protection. Wild rabbits, unlike our domestic ones, are on their own and weaned at just a few weeks old.

Doe rabbits nurse their babies typically just a couple times per day, so just because you don’t *see* it don’t assume she’s not around. Check their bellies – full bellies mean they’re eating.

It’s also advised that wild rabbits are in most states considered wildlife and shouldn’t be held – if you find some that need help contact a wildlife rehab place, even if you’re willing to foster them yourself. It pays to cover yourself rather than get caught with captive wildlife.

As for domestic rabbits and sob stories of breeders abandoning week old babies that need incubators – that’s just not accurate. Rabbits grow fast, but not that fast! Now unless someone has for real been raising bunnypigs, it’s doubtful there are 7-10 day old adult sized, eyes open etc rabbits!

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