A premature beaver kit is struggling to stay alive at an animal sanctuary outside Winnipeg, after it was brought in by a trapper on Tuesday who found it and three others.

The trapper discovered the four kits after killing the mother beaver, according to the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre which is caring for the young beaver.

"He had trapped a beaver and then he killed it and noticed that its stomach was moving, so he cut it open and took out four baby beavers," Reesa Atnikov, the centre's supervisor, told CBC News on Wednesday.

"Three of them died, and then this is the last one that's still alive."

The surviving beaver kit, which is about the size of a large baked potato, is receiving around-the-clock care and its condition is improving, Atnikov said.

The kit does not have a name and centre staff are not sure of its gender because it is so little.

"It's still pretty touch and go because … it's a tiny little premature baby, so we're just sort of keeping our fingers crossed that we can get it to survive," Atnikov said.

"We're literally going hour by hour."

Atnikov said should the kit survive, it would need years of rehabilitation until it can be released into the wild.

She added that this is the first beaver that the wildlife centre has tried to rehabilitate.

The centre is located north of Ile des Chênes, Man., and about 10 kilometres south of Winnipeg.