Our doe becomes a mother rabbit
When we last
made a rabbit post, we
were anxiously awaiting a litter of rabbits while mother rabbit was
preparing a nest in her nesting box. Sometime the night of the
post, our doe delivered her first litter. The litter was 11 kits,
one of which we lost the first morning. She delivered on a night
that was pretty cold and we surmised that the kit had wandered away
from the huddled litter and died of exposure. We had wrapped the
hutch in plastic and provided a incandescent lamp as a heat source, but
it wasn't enough. We later swapped out the lamp for a space
heater... probably throwing our cost per pound of rabbit equation off
due to electricity consumption. We had planned the timing of the
litter based on Easter though, so we had anticipated the possible
issues with the cold.
Turns out our speculation in
the last post about the "bird's nest" depression in the hay was
correct. She had the litter exactly where we thought she
might. The kits were also a bit larger than we had expected at
about 4-5 inches long at birth. I think we both expected them to
be about half that size. They have also grown phenomenally
fast! At less than a week, they had beginnings of fur. At
about 10 days, their eyes began opening. At two weeks, they had a
full coat of fur. At less than one month old, they are several
times the size they were at delivery and are weaning themselves by
eating hay and rabbit food. They have also started learning how
to drink from the chicken waterer nipple, which is quite a feat when one
considers that they can barely reach it! Next time around, I
think the nursery hutch will have a lower nipple for the young.
Dawn also discovered it's quite
difficult to count the number of kits in the litter since when they
hear activity in the nest box they start jumping around like
crazy. They won't stop moving enough to be counted since they
think that activity means nursing time and they start actively search
out a mother and a teat.
Dawn also discovered rather
disconcertingly that once they were out of the nesting box that they could easily fall out
of the hutch. After a nerve wracking chase of one little fella
around the yard, she added a "rabbit retaining wall" to the door of the
hutch to help retain the frisky kits. Mom can be seen with three
of the kits along with the retaining wall in the photo above.
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