Katie's Journal

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Stupid Rabbits

by @ 4:17 pm on April 16, 2012.

The following is what I posted on the rabbit talk forum asking for advice.

Senior doe had 9 kits. Built a beautiful nest, all kits doing well, no problems. I know these are hers as she worked hard on her nest for nearly a week before she kindled, and I witnessed her building it. She had her kits on Wednesday (so 5 days ago now).

Junior doe #1 had her kits on Friday. Hardly built a nest and only had 2. One was at the front of the nest box and frozen when I found it. The other was cold but still alive. Given they were only a few days apart, I plopped him in with senior doe’s kits and hoped for the best. He’s doing fine, and at this point you can’t tell him apart from the others.

This morning I go to check on the nest, and I start scratching my head. The nest that did contain 10 kits (counting the foster) now held 16. Apparently junior doe #2 decided it was too much effort to build her own nest, so she plopped hers in with senior doe’s. Life here has been even more insane than usual, so I can’t swear they weren’t born yesterday. My brain is so fried the days are blurring right now. But the new kits are only 1/2 to 1/3 the size of the original kits, so they can’t be older than a day or two. None of the 6 look very well fed, but 3 of the 6 are pretty skeletal.

My question is, what now? I’m afraid with 10 significantly bigger kits the new little ones won’t get to eat if I leave everyone in the same nest. I debated hard, and for now added a nice helping of shavings and hay to a different nest box (the one junior doe #1 chose) and put the six new kits there. I caught both junior does and tried holding them on my lap, plopping kits on their bellies to let them eat, and also tried holding the does in the nest to let the kits eat (I did it with both since I don’t know which junior doe had which litter). I don’t know if rabbits are like cows who can choose to hold their milk back when they’re upset or not, but either way I didn’t seem to have much luck getting the kits fed. I decided at that point I was probably making things worse instead of better, so I left the kits in the new nest and have left the rabbits alone to calm down for a while.

Was this the dumbest move ever, or does it seem somewhat reasonable? This was a few hours ago I moved the kits. I just checked on them, and they are at least warm (it’s in the 70’s here today) but do not appear to have been fed.

These kits are nothing special – I raise for meat and the fun of having rabbits. So I’m not trying desperately to save fantastic show stock or treasured pets or any such thing. But the kits are here and I do want to give them the best chance I can without disrupting colony life too much.

So, any thoughts on what to do? Should I leave them in their own nest and hope one of the does figures out to feed them? How far can you push kits without food before you say this isn’t working? Should I put them back in the original nest with the bigger kits now? I’m driving myself crazy trying to figure out the best course of action and would appreciate some opinions.

Here are pictures of the nest with all 16, and a comparison shot of an older and younger kit.

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I received the suggestion that well fed kits can go 24 hours between feedings. So I would remove the biggest kits from the colony at night, and return them the next night after the smaller ones had a chance to eat. I think it kinda messed with the does to keep losing kits, as every time I did that they piled up more and more shavings in front of the nest.

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In the end, most of the kits made it. I lost a couple to random other events and out of 17 born I now have 13 healthy, weaned kits.

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