Why are Rabbits Born Blind (With 4 Videos)


Why Are Rabbits Born Blind (1)

Introduction

Since rabbits breed so quickly and can expand their numbers in such a short time, many pet owners are curious about baby rabbits. One of the biggest questions we get is when baby rabbits will reach certain milestones in development. Knowing these answers helps rabbit owners keep their rabbits healthy and happy.

Baby rabbits open their eyes around day 10 to 12. Some rabbits may open their eyes a little earlier or a little later. Some delay has to do with the breed but usually indicates a health issue

It’s hard to wait for baby rabbits to open their eyes, but don’t try to rush this process. Kits’ eyes are closed at birth for a very good reason, and trying to force them open sooner will cause irreparable damage.

Why Are Baby Rabbits Born with Their Eyes Closed?

Even though rabbits are mammals like humans, their development isn’t anything like ours. From gestation to birth to the developmental milestones they hit after birth, rabbits are a whole different animal. One of the main ways baby rabbits differ from baby humans is the fact that their eyes are closed at birth.

But it’s important to understand their eyes aren’t simply closed. Rabbits’ eyes are actually sealed shut before birth, and they remain that way for about two weeks after birth. They would not be able to open them during this time even if they wanted to. Just like puppies and kittens, who are also born with their eyes closed, baby rabbits need this “blind time” to develop properly.

Since rabbits breed so quickly, they need to get past the dangerous pregnancy stage as quickly as possible. Pregnancy is taxing on a mother’s body, slowing her down and sapping her energy. She is a prime target for hungry predators as long as she is carrying her babies.

To help keep Mom alive, Mother Nature decided to speed up the gestational process by focusing all Mom’s energy on creating viable kits that can live outside her body. Eyes are nonessential for life in a warm nest, so baby rabbits develop more important body functions and organs first.

Once the babies are born, blind, and deaf, Mom tucks them away in a nest and goes off to eat. She will only return to the next once a day to nurse the hairless kits, then she runs off again. This behavior and early birth keep both Mom and babies alive in the wild.

Since a young rabbit’s eyes aren’t fully developed at birth, the body seals the eyelids shut to prevent injury to those delicate organs before they’re ready. Bright lights can hurt this underdeveloped tissue, as can even the slightest breeze. Baby rabbits are born in litters.

A lot of damage can be done by squirming nestmates. Having your eyes sealed shut while you learn to move your body is a good way to keep those organs protected from thrashing siblings and sharp claws.

Blind Baby Rabbits Squirming for Milk

When Will Baby Rabbits Be Able to See?

When a baby rabbit opens its eyes around day 10 to 12, they can see a little bit. They won’t be able to see things very far away like their parents can, however. Most of a baby rabbit’s world will still be the nest and her littermates, so she can see very well close up after her eyes open.

A baby rabbit’s vision is still developing even after her eyes open. Once her eyes are open, she can begin to grow and fine-tune her eyes by practicing focusing on things close up and far away. These peeks out of the nest and into the real world will help strengthen her eye muscles, preparing her for sharp eyesight in the near future.

It can take a few weeks before baby rabbits have visual acuity similar to adult rabbits.

Depending on the breed, size, and health of the rabbit, this can take a couple of months, too. For pet rabbits, it’s best to avoid shining bright lights into baby rabbit’s faces. Even if their eyes are still closed, some light will seep in through the eyelids and can cause harm.

Why Won’t My Baby Rabbit Open His Eyes?

Sometimes, something goes wrong. There could be a problem during gestation inside your rabbit’s mother, or there could be a problem after your rabbit is born. In either case, it could be very bad news. If a baby rabbit has not opened his eyes by the 12th day, your vet should be called. The vet may advise you to wait for another 2 to 3 days, but likely they will want you to bring the bunny in for a checkup. Some causes for late eye-opening include:

  • Birth defects; eye issues, eyelid problems, optic nerve developmental delays
  • Poor maternal nutrition; not enough fiber, vitamins, or other nutrients
  • Poor quality milk; caused by poor nutrition or defects in the mother rabbit
  • Inability to nurse causing malnutrition; due to cleft palate or other deformities
  • Injury or damage to newborn; from rough mother, other rabbits, nest mates, predators
  • Neurological damage or underdevelopment; early birth, injury, or brain and nervous system deformity

It can be very scary when a baby rabbit can’t open his eyes. But it’s best to stay calm. It’s tempting to try to help your baby bunny open his eyes, but please don’t!

Can I Help My Rabbit Open Her Eyes?

No! you can’t force a baby rabbit to open eyes. Without knowing the cause of delayed opening, you could permanently injure your baby rabbit. You could damage her eyelids, the nerves in her face, or even the eyes themselves. This can lead to paralysis, blindness, or even death.

Only your vet can decide if it’s safe to try to help a bunny open its eyes. And it should only ever be your vet who tries. Even though serious and complicated medical issues could be keeping your bunny’s eyes closed, it could also be something very treatable.

Conjunctivitis / Eye Infection / Nest Box Eye

A bit of conjunctivitis could be the cause. If that’s the case, your vet will simply wipe away the crusty bits, apply some antibiotic cream, and then send you home with instructions. Likely, if it’s just a small eye infection, you’ll be directed to apply a warm compress a few times a day. Then dab a little ointment on the bunny’s eyelids. In no time, she will open her eyes and you may never be able to tell she had a rough start at all!

Nest Box Eyes

Baby rabbits are so cute when they hop about, fluffy and warm, and bright-eyed. But they don’t start out that way. Hairless, tiny, and blind, newborn rabbits should not be handled. Keep bright lights away from these delicate babies and never force their eyelids open.

Your patience will be rewarded in ten to twelve days when your sweet litter of fluffy bunnies opens their eyes and begins poking their heads out of the nest to say hello. Until that day, be sure to give Mom the best nutrition, a warm place to sleep, and lots of water. She’ll take care of the babies in their early days.

Caring for baby rabbits

To distinguish various baby rabbits in the litter, you may use a dab of food coloring, felt tip pen, or xylene-free marker in the ear. Felt tip pen markings need to be renewed weekly, and with prolonged use, rabbits may develop dermatitis in reaction to chemicals in the ink. Xylene-free markers make marks which last about three weeks and are non-toxic.

NewBorn Kits

You may handle the baby rabbits even if the mother does not know you but refrain from constantly interfering during the first few days as it increases the likelihood of maternal cannibalization. If you want proof that the babies are properly being taken care of by their mother, check them once early each morning.

Caring For Newborn Kits

They should be warm and round-bellied from their feeding and burrowed and hidden at the bottom of the nest until mealtime.

Checking For Problems

Baby rabbits that are not being fed will be restless, crawling around on the surface of the nest, and take on a wrinkled appearance due to dehydration. The best way to confirm that they are being taken care of is to weigh them on a small postage scale or kitchen scale and track their weight. If they are gaining weight (~1/4 oz), the babies are being fed.

Generally, male rabbits will be tolerant of baby rabbits and can remain with the babies if he has been neutered for at least a month. The father will begin to nip and play roughly with the sons as they begin to reach puberty and start acting feisty, and the father rabbit should then be separated.

 If the father rabbit has not been neutered for over 6 weeks, he should not be in contact with the mother as she can get pregnant again immediately after giving birth. To raise rabbits that are more willing to approach humans and remain closer to them, a study suggests that baby rabbits between the age of 26 and 42 days should be picked up and handled.

Rabbit Meat Profitability Table

RabbitsRabbits BornLbs Meat / YearAverage Price / LBTotal Revenue Possible
184252$ 8.00$ 2016
2168504$ 8.00$ 4032
54201260$ 8.00$ 10,080
108402520$ 8.00$ 20,162
2016805040$ 8.00$ 40,320
3025207560$ 8.00$ 60,480
40336010,080$ 8.00$ 80,640
50420012,600$ 8.00$ 100,800
100840025,200$ 8.00$ 201.600
20016,80050,400$ 8.00$ 403,200
Rabbits Have Average 7 Kits (Babies) /Month - Some have had up to 14

Rabbit Meat Compared to Chicken Meat

Type of MeatChickenRabbit
Calories172114
Fat9.25 g2.32 g
Protein20.85 g21.79 g
Water69.46 g74.51 g
Protein Energy Content50%81%
Fat Energy Content50%19%
Vitamin B-1.063 mg.03 mg
Vitamin B-2.085 mg.06 mg
Vitamin B-39.908 mg6.5 mg
Calcium11 mg12 mg
Iron .74 mg3.2 mg
Magnesium25 mg29 mg
Sodium63 mg50 mg
Cholesterol64 mg81 mg
Comparing Nutritional Value of Chicken and Rabbit Meat

Rabbit Giant Angora Fur Profitability Table

RabbitsRabbits Born / Yr0z wool / Year
40 OZ / Rabitt
Average Price / oz
$10.00
Feed Cost / Yr
$ .30 per day / $ 110 per Year

Total Revenue Possible
1843,360$ 33,600$ 9,240$ 24,360
21686,720$ 67,200$ 18,480$ 48,720
542016,800$ 168,000$ 46,200$ 121,800
1084033,600$ 33,6000$ 92,400$ 243,600
20168067,200$ 672,000$ 184,800$ 487,200
302520100,800$ 1,008,000$ 57,200$ 950,800
403360134,400$ 1,344,000$ 369,600$ 974,400
504200168,000$ 1,680,000$ 462,000$ 1,218,000
1008400336,000$ 3,360,000$ 924,000$ 2,436,000
20016,800672,000$ 6,720,000$ 1,848,000$ 4,872,000
Rabbits Have Average 7 Kits (Babies) /Month - Some have had up to 14
Average Giant Angora Weight 10lb
40 Oz shaved Fur per Rabbit per Year
Feed $ .30 per day for 10lb Rabbit

Rabbit Poop Profitability Table

Number RabbitsManure / day / .5lbManure / lbs WeekManure /lbs Year 
1.53.5182
217364
31.510.5546
4214728
52.517.5910
105351820
2010703640
30151055460
40201407280
50251759100
1005035018,200
20010070036,400
Manure per Rabbit ranges from .5 - 1 lb per day. We used .5 for Calculations

Breeds of Rabbits FAQ

Breed of RabbitOriginWeightPurposeKits / LitterBreed association
New ZealandsCalifornia5 kg
11 lbs
Meat8American Federation New Zealand Rabbit Breeders Assoc
CaliforniasCalifornia3 kg
7-10 lbs
Meat6 - 8California Rabbit Breeders
RexFrance4.5 kg
10.5 lbs
Meat2 - 4National Rex Rabbit Club
SatinsMichigan4 kg
9.5 lbs
Meat2 - 4American satin Breeders Association
PaliminosAmerican5.4 kg
12 lbs
Meat6 -8Palimino Rabbit Breeders Association
English AngoraEngland2-3 kg
5-7 lbs
Wool6 - 8National Angora Breeders
French AngoraFrance4.5 kg
10.5 lbs
Wool6 - 8National Angora Breeders
Giant AngoraTurkey4.5 kg
9 - 10 lbs
Wool6 - 8National Angora Breeders
Satin AngoraTurkey4.5 kg
6 - 10 lbs
Wool6 - 8National Angora Breeders
Mini LopUK3 kg
5.5 lbs
Dwarf2 -3American Mini Lop Rabbit Club
Dutch DwarfNetherlands1 - 2 kg
2,5 lbs
Dwarf2 - 4American Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club
Pygmy RabbitNorth American500 grams
1 lb
Dwarf6?
Britania PetiteUK / Polish700 grams
1 1/2 - 2 lbs
Dwarf2-3American Britiania Petite Rabbit Society
breed
Size
Purpose
Litter Size
Breed Association

Rabbit Breeder Associations

Rabbit AssociationLocationLink
American Breeders AssociationUnited StatesARBA
House Rabbit SocietyCaliforniaHRS
Ohio States Rabbit Breeders AssociationOhioOSRBA
Livestock Conservancy North CarolinaLC
Rabbit Welfare Association and FundUnited KingdomRWA
British Rabbit CouncilUnited KingdomBRC
European Association of Rabbits....EuropeEAP
Australian National Rabbit CouncilAustraliaANRC
Australian Rabbit House SocietyAustraliaARHS
ARBA - Rabbit ShowsUnited StatesARBA - Shows
Resource List of Rabbit Breeder Associations

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