Baby rabbits are born blind and deaf and are very vulnerable to predators. By digging a burrow, the mother rabbit creates a safe place for her babies to stay while she looks for food. The burrow will also protect the babies from the weather, keeping them warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
But what happens when a baby dies inside a burrow or is stillborn?
The mother rabbit will not remove her dead baby from the nest for many reasons. For one, she does not want to attract predators to her nest or leave her other babies alone. Another reason is that she wants to keep her dead baby close to her.
So, if you see your bunny unwilling to remove the dead baby, you must step in and remove it yourself.
In this article, we will look at the reasons why a female rabbit wouldn’t want to part ways with her baby and why, as a rabbit owner, you should remove a dead baby from your bunny’s nest.
So, let’s get started.
Does a Momma Rabbit Remove a Dead Baby from Her Nest?
No, she doesn’t. It’s tough for a momma rabbit to remove a dead baby from the nest. If she’s a domestic pet, she might not get rid of the dead baby rabbit at all.
If a mother rabbit were to remove her dead baby from the nest, she would be leaving her other babies alone. The mother rabbit does not want to leave her other babies alone because they are vulnerable to predators. The mother rabbit protects her other babies by keeping the dead baby in the nest.
The mother rabbit also wants to keep her dead baby close to her because she does not want to forget her baby.
However, taking the dead baby away is always a good idea as it might put extra stress on the momma rabbit. If the dead baby is taken away, she can focus on feeding other kids without feeling the pressure of the lost child.
If the momma rabbit is wild and has abandoned her bunnies in the nest, she might not return. You can easily take the dead bunny away from the nest and care for the remaining ones.
Why Do Female Rabbits Dig Burrows?
As everyone knows, rabbits are very fond of digging holes in the mud, and their nests are very well hidden. These nests are usually seen in the backyard, parks, school grounds, or anywhere in soil. Rabbits create nests underground, except an Eastern cottontail rabbit, who doesn’t make nests underground.
The female rabbit digs a shallow hole, similar to a bowl hidden in the grass. She then starts lining the nest with dry grass and leaves that fall from trees when her babies are resting inside. She then covers the nest with more dried grass, leaves, and fur from their bodies to protect them from predators.
There is no bunny nest scent, which is why it takes weeks to discover a nest like this. The newborn babies will stay in the nest until they turn several weeks old.
If by any chance, you happen to accidentally walk over the nest, it might hurt or injure the babies. You must be very careful when stepping on such holes, which are covered and not easily detected.
If the bunny is injured or dead, carefully pick the baby rabbit, put it inside a cardboard box, and take it away from the mother. The momma rabbit is very possessive about her babies, and she might not react in a pleasant way.
Why Do Dead Bunnies Need to be Removed?
Since a mother rabbit will not remove her dead baby from the nest, it is your duty to ensure it is removed and buried safely.
There are several reasons to take the baby away from the nest. Let’s look at these one by one.
For people doing rabbit farming, removing the dead bunny from the nest is important. During parturition time, the momma rabbit needs to be alone. There should be no disturbance whatsoever that may cause her stress and nervousness, resulting in her not giving birth to the young ones in the nest.
After giving birth, you need to monitor the nest. If you find any dead bunny there, it must be taken away with proper care and attention. The nest box should also be cleaned with warm water to sanitize it properly.
If the dead bunnies stay in the nest for longer, they could harm other babies. The dead bunnies become a source of contamination for the whole nest box, and many infections might arise in others in the nest. This is the reason why the dead bunnies should be removed immediately.
Attraction for Flies
Many flies can potentially be attracted to the dead bunnies inside, giving rise to many other complications. Because of their rotten smell, these can attract many insects and pests like coyotes. The environment must be kept clean at all times, so the dead bunny should be removed as soon as possible.
Other Pets Might Attack
Another major problem might occur as other pets would start eating the dead bunny. The momma rabbit builds the nest for her babies to stay hidden from other pets like dogs.
She keeps her little ones protected from all kinds of predators, which is why the nest is camouflaged. If the other pets start eating the dead animal, they might have infections that may prove harmful to them. Therefore, it is necessary to remove the dead bunny from the nest before it causes much damage.
Apart from contamination, infections, and flies, the dead bunny gives a very putrid odor which is very unpleasant to the environment. This rotten smell must be dealt with by removing the dead bunny from the nest.
The momma rabbit cannot remove the bunny from the nest herself, so you need to help her get rid of the dead animal without making her angry. She will try you don’t take her baby away from her, and she will also try to revive the dead bunny, but you need to carefully take it out of the nest.
A mother primarily builds a nest to protect her offspring from predators. It is, therefore, very hard for her to remove her dead baby from the nest. The nest is camouflaged with dry leaves and grass and is hardly visible to humans. They might step on the nest, potentially harming the newborn babies inside. If you see a dead baby inside, you need to remove the dead body, as this will cause many issues later on.
The rotten smell of the dead baby can spoil the whole environment. There may be insects eating it and making the surroundings contaminated. New infections might arise if the dead baby is not disposed of. You must take the dead baby away from the mother as soon as possible.
The mother would never allow you to take away the baby as she would not her child to be taken away. She can’t get rid of the dead body, so you would need to take the dead body out to avoid further complications. A healthy and safe nest is best for all the rabbits inside.