Rabbits have short gestation periods, which means they can get pregnant multiple times in a year. However, baby rabbits are often separated from their mothers at a very young age.
Mother rabbits do not miss their babies after they are separated from her. Rabbits can have many litters in a year and can become pregnant soon after birth, rabbits are not maternal creatures. If their scent changes, she will not even recognize them.
If you’re concerned whether a mother rabbit will experience detachment issues regarding her babies, or a baby bunny experiencing abandonment issues, there is so much more to know. It is good to remember that rabbits are very different from humans, so it should not be treated the same.
Should I Keep the Mother With Her Baby Rabbits?
After the kits are weaned and can find food for themselves, it is recommended that you remove them from their mother. After they are eight weeks old, they should be removed from the same cage as their mother. When they are eight weeks old, the kits are full of energy and can become very irritating to the adult rabbit.
Since rabbits are not naturally maternal animals, this may cause the mother to bite and injure them as a warning. If this occurs, separate them immediately and remove any other remaining kits from the enclosure. Contact your veterinarian for further advice and instructions on how to keep the wound from becoming worse or infected if it is serious.
If the mother isn’t (or is having a hard time) feeding her babies, take a look at my guide on what to do if your rabbit mother isn’t feeding her babies for help.
Do Rabbits Eat Their Babies?
Unfortunately, mother rabbits sometimes do eat their babies. Typically, this means that something is wrong with the kit, and the mother’s instincts have taken over to ‘take care of the issue’. This is useful in the wild because there is now no longer a dead rabbit body for predators to find. If there is no carcass left behind, it becomes harder for the predators to track the mother and surviving rabbits.
If the doe starts eating her kits, and there have been no previous issues with them, then she may be confused about what has happened. If this happens, contact your veterinarian for advice about what to do next. You may not need to interfere, but it is always best to get a professional’s advice.
It can be frightening to experience a doe rabbit eating her offspring or to learn that she has done this. Do not punish her for doing this if it does occur because it is how rabbits are programmed.
Do Rabbits Recognize Their Siblings?
Rabbits do recognize their siblings, but only if their scent has not at all changed. A rabbit’s nose is very sensitive, and this helps rabbits recognize scents and smells, and very rarely recognize appearances. Especially since many rabbits look exactly like their siblings and mothers.
In fact, if two rabbits are siblings and have never been separated, they can bond very quickly, and it is easier for them to become a bonded pair because they are familiar with each other.
However, if one rabbit’s scent changes at all when they are taken away, even if it is just for a visit to the veterinarian, they will not recognize the rabbit, and they may become aggressive. To them, an unfamiliar rabbit has entered their home and their companion that they have bonded with has gone missing, even if they have actually come back soon after they were removed.
TIP: If you want to learn more about the sibling bond between rabbits, including how to fix broken bonds, see my article Do Rabbits Know and Recognize Their Siblings.
If your bunny becomes aggressive towards another bunny after a visit to the veterinarian, ask the veterinarian what you can do to correct this behavior and create a new bond between the rabbits. In the meantime, you can learn a few reasons why rabbits fight and how you should stop them from fighting here.
How Soon Should Kits Be Removed?
Baby rabbits, otherwise known as kits, should be removed from their mother after they are eight weeks old, but they can be removed at an earlier age. After four weeks, kits are weaned off of the mother’s milk, and can reliably find food for themselves, which is important for wild rabbits.
Does, or adult female rabbits can begin to feel new breeding hormones around four weeks after she has given birth, and can become pregnant almost immediately after having kits.
If there is a male in the household, it is best to remove him from the immediate area as soon as the doe has given birth, as he can impregnate her on the same day that she has given birth and may try to impregnate the female kits after they have matured. It seems very wrong from a human’s perspective, but in the wild, this helps the rabbit population stay large and strong.
Do Rabbits Have Good Memories?
A rabbit’s long-term memory can be very good. If there are routines and repetition of a person coming over to them or an activity that they enjoy, then they are very likely to remember the person and the activity. However, it takes a lot of repetition of the activity or seeing a person for rabbits to remember events and people for a long period of time.
However, a rabbit’s short-term memory is exactly that; short. Their short-term memory only lasts for five minutes. After that, they forget everything that has recently happened. They then rely on their instincts and their sense of smell to guide them, especially if they are taking care of a burrow of kits.
However, if your rabbit’s life is put in danger at any point, they will remember the source of the danger and avoid any repetition of that person or activity, even if it only occurs one time.
Rabbits do enjoy repetition. Repetition helps them remember things like people and smells. If you do an activity with your bunny repeatedly, they will remember items that are associated with that activities and react accordingly.
Rabbits also enjoy activities that can form emotional bonds, both with their rabbit companions and their human owners. Repeating activities that help you form bonds with them will help your rabbit become comfortable with you and their environment.
Does My Rabbit Recognize Me?
If you hold, cuddle, and play with your rabbit often, they will begin to recognize you and your scent. If you wear the same cologne or perfume every day, then your rabbit will start to remember you. This may happen with other people as well. For example, if one of your friends comes over and plays with your rabbit frequently, and your rabbit is comfortable with them, they may begin to recognize them.
Rabbits often form emotional bonds with people and rabbits and remember the sights and smells associated with those bonds. “If something holds emotional resonance for your rabbit, she’ll remember it. This includes human owners and rabbit siblings.” Source
Bonding with your rabbit is incredibly important for the health and happiness of both you and your rabbit. If you’re struggling with ways to bond with your rabbit, see my guide to bonding with your rabbit here for some great ways you can bond deeply with your beloved pet.