I am very new to rabbits, my 5.5 month old doe was bred last month and due today no bunnies. She pulled hair last week but not much and only toileted in the nest box I'm not sure what to do now.Any ideas?
New Zealand first timer
- POOF Goes the Pooka
IMO, five and a half months is a bit young for a first litter; most people usually recommend waiting until a doe is at least 6 months old before putting her with a buck.
Sitting around in the nest box, and fouling it with poop and pee, is a disgustingly common behavior in does. For this reason, most people don't keep a box with the doe, but only give her one a few days before she is actually due.
Most does don't pull fur until just hours before kindling, regardless of age or experience. If I see a doe pulling fur before what should be day 29 or 30 of a pregnancy, I suspect that something else is going on - most likely a false pregnancy.
Does pull fur because of changing hormone levels. Just the act of being mounted by another rabbit (even another doe) can cause the doe's body to think it is pregnant. A doe that is experiencing a false pregnancy may go through all of the motions - getting grumpy, refusing the buck, making a nest - but of course, no babies are produced. Frequently, the false pregnancy will "end" at around 3 weeks, though I have had some does that went the full 31 days, pulled loads of fur, and only had an empty nest to show for their pains. Any time I see fur being pulled around day 21, I suspect a false pregnancy, though I did have one Jersey Wooly doe that started pulling fur at about that stage, and kept it up for a full 10 days until the babies arrived on day 32 (by which time the cage was swimming in wool and her body was bare except for a 2" wide "Mohawk" along her spine). Every doe is different, and until you have some experience with a particular doe, you can't be sure what she will do.
Rabbits don't do what most people think of as typical "heat" cycles, though they do experience regular hormonal peaks and valleys. Some does will pull fur when they hit a hormonal peak. If you see a doe pulling fur when you are absolutely, positively sure she isn't pregnant, that is a pretty good indicator that she is at a hormonal peak, and a good sign that it's time to breed her (assuming that it isn't otherwise inconvenient or ill-advised). A doe taken to a buck at that time will most likely accept the buck readily, and conceive a good sized litter.