Diarrhea is the leading cause of death in young rabbits.
A young rabbit's digestive system is very sensitive. They require an increased amount of acid in the system to start handling feed efficiently when first weaned from Mother's milk. Any abrupt change in the type or brand of pelleted feed or the addition of a new foods such as fruits, vegetables or even grass in the yard can trigger an attack of diarrhea which can be fatal in a very short period of time.
Adding tea or Vanodine to the drinking water for the first two weeks of transition, from weaning or to a rabbit of any age that has been transported long distances or from one rabbitry to another, will help balance the digestive system and will mask the taste or smell of water unlike what they are used to drinking.
Adding a tablespoon of Old Fashioned Quaker oats to their feed and feeding unlimited amounts of GOOD quality, mold free, grass hay will help prevent stress diarrhea.
When you purchase a rabbit be sure to get a supply of the same brand of feed that the rabbit was raised on and make the transition to a new feed SLOWLY. Any reputable breeder or Pet store will send you home with transition feed and a list of comparable feeds to select from.
If you must change feed be sure to to do it GRADUALLY. Mix about 10% of the new feed to the old and increase the amount gradually over a two to three weeks period. If the rabbit develops loose stools, remove ALL pelleted feed IMMEDIATELY. Give tea to drink, Old fashioned Quaker oats and grass hay ONLY until stools return to normal. Then reintroduce pellets slowly.
PLEASE be sure to explain to all members of your household that feeding "a just little treat" of something new can be fatal to a young rabbit. DO all things in moderation with rabbits.
We recommend that a new rabbit not be put out in the yard or even down on the floor in the house for at least two weeks. One reason we discourage it is that it increases the chances of him picking up something to eat that will upset his digestive system and the other is that too much freedom too soon can cause them to become too independent and therefore not as good a pet. The first two to three weeks is a bonding time where you spend lots of time petting and loving the new rabbit, young or old, and making them feel at home. Cage time also gives them the opportunity to learn to use the litter pan and they will really look forward to you visiting and handling them. At the end of the two to three weeks period they should have transitioned to his new environment and has become accustomed to new feed, water, sights and sounds. You may then start putting him down to explore small confined areas at first. Then gradually increase the area.
DIARRHEA is different than the soft, moist, shiny grape like clusters of "night feces" that sometimes find themselves stuck to your rabbits bottom. Diarrhea that has foul odor or shows signs of mucus is an indication of infection and should be treated by a professional.
At ANY sign of changes in droppings, contact your breeder or veterinarian for advice on how to proceed.