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The first home for a new baby bunny is the nestbox. Its very important to the future of your Rabbitry that each expecting Doe (Mama Rabbit) has a comfortable nestbox for her delivery. The size of the nest and the material used for constructing are the two main concerns.

We offer two basic sizes of nestboxes. The 8x12 is for smaller breeds and the 10x14 is for larger breeds. Extra large boxes are available on special order. If the box is too small, the doe may not be able to fit inside. If the box is too large, some kits may not be able to nurse. Sometimes the little ones move around the box and may miss a meal or two. Rabbits usually only feed their young once a day. It is important to keep the babies in one small nest area so they can find Mom. A nestbox should be 2 inches longer and 2 inches wider than the Doe.

Boxes are constructed of wood, wire or metal. We make our wooden boxes with "x1 welded wire for bottoms. We place a piece of cardboard in the bottom of the nestbox initially for the birth. We put about 2 inches of clean pin shavings on the cardboard and fill the box with good clean hay. We can remove the cardboard about 10 days later and replace the nesting materials with clean hay. This will help keep the box cleaner longer. Urine and droppings fall through the bottom and babies should not be eating dirty hay.

The Does can chew wooden boxes. Wood also can absorb moisture or urine and hold disease problems. Cleaning and disinfecting boxes between litters is necessary for any type of nestbox. You can soak or spray the nestbox with a bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to a gallon of water) and then let them dry in the sun.  The sun also disinfects the nestbox.

Wire and metal boxes are easier to keep clean and rabbits do not chew them up. Some people feel the metal is cooler than wood on those cold winter nights. If the doe built the interior of the nest properly, the kits stay very warm. On hot summer days, its important to help keep the kits a little cooler. You may have to remove some of the fur the doe has pulled from the nest.

Some breeders use cardboard box liners to help keep nestboxes cleaner. Nest box warmers are also a helpful item of use on cold nights. It is a flat metal plate that slips under the nestbox or cage. It has coils webbed throughout and uses very little electricity. The heater stays at around 92 degrees.

One method of keeping the babies comfortable is to move the nestbox with the kits into a controlled environment room. We use a nursery area with the thermostat set at 75 degrees. We set the boxes on shelves and cover the box opening with a piece of x1 wire (so the babies cant escape). We mark each box with the Does name to help avoid confusion. We take the boxes to the Moms each morning. We leave it with the Doe for about 15 minutes and then move it back into the nursery. Once it warms up or when the kits have enough fur to keep themselves warm, we will leave the boxes with the Doe.

Tip!  When you place the nestbox in the cage, turn the short side to the back.  This helps keep the babies from crawling out of the box.  

The really large breeds of rabbits require special larger boxes to accommodate them. You need to also make sure the cage door hole is wide enough for the box to fit through. We have expert nestbox builders who can make just about any size nestbox out of wood. Let us know if we can help you with your Moms and brand new babies.

page last updated 3/1/06
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