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3.5 Week Old Bunnies Dying! PLEASE HELP!

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Our mother doe passed away two days ago. I talked to a vet about it and they said the doe was malnourished and just had to many kits to take care of and that's why the kits are skin and bones. Yesterday one of her kits died and this morning around 5 two more died. I filled their belles with KMR last night and this morning I've been force feeding water with a dropper into the weaker ones. I'm afraid for one of them. It constantly falls over and now it cant get up without help. I'm holding it next to my body, but it's body seems to be tensing up like a dead rabbit. Its heart is beating fast when i check and it is breathing. I have called an animal emergency center and two different vets. I cant bring them in to a clinic right now and im not going to spend money on a bill for an animal we are just going to fry up later. These are meat rabbits not pets. Any advice is appreciated. Thank you! 

post #2 of 21

How many kits were in this litter?


Generally speaking, a doe produces only a certain amount of milk no matter how many kits she has, and the litter as a whole gains about the same amount of weight as they grow. The more kits there are in the litter, the slower each one grows. 


Does should be free-fed once the kits are born, since it takes a lot of energy to convert plant material into milk.  It's rotten that you lost the doe; I have only had that happen a few times with a litter this young. Usually, the more kits in the litter, the earlier they start experimenting with solid food. By 3 1/2 weeks, they usually are eating pretty well. Plain, dry rolled oats (like Quaker Oats) make a good baby food; I will often mix them with the pellets.

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply! I'm glad to say they all pulled through the night and are getting stronger. The bunny I was very concerned with is still a bit wobbly, but he's drinking from the dropper on his own, manages to hop around a little and he can get up by himself when knocked over. I bought some unflavored baby pedialyte and mixed it 50:50 with water and gave them little bits at a time every so often. We started our colony with two does and one buck. Both Does had their litters the same night and 1 week earlier than the earliest due date rabbits are supposed to have. Our youngest (Brown) doe didn't take to her babies so we snuck them into the older (Red) does nest. Each doe had nine kits in all. Several didn't make it and we ended up with 9 in total. After our red doe passed we have 5 remaining today. I'm still giving them KMR, but their main food source is Alfalfa Pellets and alfalfa hay. 

post #4 of 21

I'm sorry, I don't mean to be arguing with you, but I've been doing rabbits for almost 30 years, and while they still surprise me occasionally, I've experienced a lot. "Normal" rabbit gestation is 28-33 days, with most does giving birth on day 31 or 32. IME, it is extremely rare for a rabbit to give birth before day 28 - I've only seen it happen a handful of times. The odds against it happening to two does at the same time are incalculable. But that almost doesn't matter - I have seen kits born after only 21 days' gestation, and they don't live - they can't, because they aren't developed enough. The fact that you had two does go on the same night and had surviving babies makes me believe that somebody wrote down the wrong due date.;)


But I agree with the vet - if you are feeding these rabbits alfalfa pellets and alfalfa hay, they are malnourished. There is way too much protein in a diet like that. True, a lot of rabbit feed pellets are alfalfa-based, but there are a lot of other ingredients mixed in to provide balanced nutrition. Your rabbits might even be better off eating just grass hay rather than a diet of straight alfalfa. Rabbit food, grass hay, and rolled oats is the diet that almost any experienced rabbit breeder would recommend for kits of this age.

post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 

We got our does and buck on the 27th of September and we bred them on the 30th of Sep. and the 1st of October. We had kits born from both liters on the 18th of October. Now it is possible but highly unlikely both does were bred by the same buck before we got them. The lady we got them from had them caged, but turned them all lose in the yard so the people who wanted them could round them up (Don't ask why because I have no idea either). Now with only that info I'd say its very likely the does got pregnant, but there were other bucks running around too and none of them were of the same color as our kits. The majority color in both litters were brown bunnies like our buck. Now we put 5 neglected brown bunnies (both parents are brown) into our nursing does nest but after fur was grown we had more than 5 brown bunnies. They all even look like mini versions of our buck. I'm pretty sure they are his. How did he impregnate two does the same day when people are chasing his tail all over kingdom come and while being so stressed out? I'm not saying its impossible, but I think its unlikely. The lady we got them from had claimed they were only loose for four days so that adds to my reason for thinking they couldn't have gotten pregnant until we had them.


Our rabbit feed is made from alfalfa, but there is more than just that in the pellets. We have them all eating CHS Payback Rabbit 18 feed and we just bought a bag of Payback Natural Suncured Alfalfa Pellets 15%. They much on straw and alfalfa hay every couple days and enjoy carrot and lettuce treats we throw in the cages

post #6 of 21

I am assuming that by "brown" you mean the color that I call Chestnut, which is pretty much the color of a wild rabbit. Not to get too technical, Chestnut rabbits express several dominant color genes. I can think of dozens of ways to breed rabbits that are colors that result from some combination of dominant genes and recessive genes together so that you get Chestnut kits, particularly since your one doe is (was) a Chestnut - so the fact that your buck is Chestnut and you have Chestnut kits really doesn't have anything to do with your supposed breeding date of September 30. As to how the rabbits could have bred together - if a doe is willing, it only takes about 2 seconds. Young rabbits are hopping hormones; I daresay he (or any buck) and a doe could get that much time sitting still without a human on their tails under such preposterous conditions as this woman set up. In fact,  I'd suspect any doe that didn't get bred when running loose in a yard for several days with several bucks of having reproductive problems .

Incidentally, 18% protein is considered a high protein diet for rabbits; most alfalfa hay is a lot higher than that. Even the manufacturer of your feed only suggest grass hay in addition to the pellets.
Edited by Bunnylady - 11/14/15 at 10:05am
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 

I find it very interesting how not one person can give a straight answer on how to help the situation without arguing or telling them to take the animal to the vet. When a little life is at stake what do people do? . . . They argue over ridiculous things that have nothing to do with how to help.

 Thank you for your concern, but the due date or the feeding rituals of my rabbits wasn't the point of this discussion. I was looking for help and got none. I figured things out on my own and now all my rabbits are healthy and frisky little critters as they should be. 

post #8 of 21

Unfortunately, a lot of the time, by the time someone cries out for help, there really isn't any help that can be given to that particular animal, and the best we can do is give advice on how to correct a situation to prevent the problem from recurring. I'm sorry that you think I'm useless, but a lot of the time, I am thinking about other people who may come across a thread, and what they may get out of it. For example, someone might read this thread, and say, "well, I saw this person that had a litter born at 21 days' gestation, and they survived," when I know from my own experience that it isn't possible, but there you go - one more piece of internet misinformation getting passed around out there, all due to a misunderstanding. And though you may not have asked about your feeding program, it is possible that your feeding program may be the reason your doe died in the first place, as excess protein in the diet can cause potentially fatal metabolic issues (there are some people that will tell you that alfalfa itself is bad for rabbits, and some feed companies make hay-based feeds for this reason).


Clearly, you had heard about the usual tricks of KMR and pedialyte, so there wasn't much point in my repeating them, was there?  :idunno 


Glad to hear that your rabbits are doing well now.

Edited by Bunnylady - 11/15/15 at 11:59am
post #9 of 21
I second what bunnylay has said. She was not arguing with you. If you were to bring your rabbits to a vet, a good vet would ask similar questions. I would want to know about your feeding program, housing, what you gave the rabbits to nest in, management protocols, etc. often times, issues like sudden death can have lots of different factors play in, so it's important to see the whole picture.

Common advice is to bring and animal to a vet because it's not responsible to diagnose an animal through the computer. Giving medical advice without actually evaluating an animal could cause harm either because it's the wrong treatment or because the animal did not get the treatment it needed in the first place. This is why my first advice is usually to bring the animal to the vet. Anything else is just a suggestion based off my own knowledge or experience. Rabbits and chickens are tricky because a lot of people don't want to bring them to a vet and I can't blame them. I usually opted for home treatment as well. However, this is the reason you often get a mixed response. The gold standard in any situation is usually a knowledgable vet.

I'm glad your rabbits are doing better. Next time a rabbit dies suddenly, you may want to consider a necropsy. This can often give answers about why an animal died and they usually are not a lot of money.
Edited by Chickerdoodle13 - 11/15/15 at 2:11pm
"If we long for our planet to be important, there is something we can do about it. We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers." ~Carl Sagan

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"If we long for our planet to be important, there is something we can do about it. We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers." ~Carl Sagan

"We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can't cope with is therefore your own problem." ~Douglas Adams
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 

Look Bunnylady, I didnt know about pedialyte until the day after i reached out for help on here. I only knew to use it after searching like a detective in rabbit related forms on other sites. I was worried about the rabbits and I wanted to know of something I could do at home to get these animals well again. Did I get help from anybody? Nope! I know your trying to help, but arguing over due dates and rabbit color genetics is completely irrelevant to rabbit health, but thank you for informing me about my lack of knowledge on those subjects. I have been listening to what you have to say and I am looking into my feeding program. My reasons for not wanting to go to a vet or buy all these extra food items is because rabbits are supposed to be an easy animal to keep. You are supposed to keep the food, water and housing clean and supplied and call it good. My father owns the rabbits and I look after them for him. If they were mine I would probably take them to the vet and absolutely give them the things their current diet is lacking, but he is very frugal and there is no changing his mind once its set. 

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