Rabbits! - Page 40
Poll Results: I love rabbits because...
27% (45)They're sooo cute!
7% (13)They're friendly!
22% (37)They're entertaining!
42% (70)They've cast me under their fluffy spell!
Featured Stories on BackYard Chickens
- POOF Goes the Pooka
If the doe can reach it, she will chew on it.
I'm sorry, but I'm having a hard time understanding just what all is going on with your rabbits. Did your doe really give birth to 17 babies? That's quite impressive - the most I've ever had in 1 litter was 14; the world record is 21.
In the wild, a rabbit doe would dig a burrow for her litter to be born in - we usually provide a nest box. Because the box only slightly resembles a tunnel, a lot of rabbits don't know to use it, but the main function of the box is to keep the nest material and litter all together. Baby rabbits are surprisingly mobile; if they crawl out of the nest, they will get chilled and probably die, since rabbit does lack the instinct to put them back in the nest. In fact, the doe tends to avoid the nest most of the time, since activity around the nest area would attract predators, and most of the things that are a threat to the babies could kill the doe, too.
In the days just before the doe gives birth, she gathers hay for her nest. When the babies are born, she cleans off the membranes and eats the afterbirths. Usually, the doe pulls fur just before or just after the kits are born, though she may continue to add fur to the nest for days afterward, especially if the weather is cool.
Normally, does only nurse about once or twice per day - usually around dawn and dusk. The doe goes to the nest box, and stands over her litter. She may nose and lick at the kits a little to let them know she is there. The babies crawl under her and find a nipple. She stands there for a few minutes, and then leaves. The babies crawl back under the nest material, and snuggle together. Baby rabbits often urinate when disturbed; since the doe doesn't do much in the way of cleaning the kits, they and the nest material may get rather wet at feeding time. It is thought that since the doe only is there once or twice per day, the babies all get wet at one time, and therefore get to spend most of their time dry - these aren't puppies or kittens; the mother doesn't really do much in the way of care. Huddling together under the nest material is what keeps the babies warm; a litter that is being adequately fed by the doe will keep themselves warm enough if the temperature is 50o F (10o C) or warmer. If the kits are too warm, they may crawl away from each other.
Most people will tell you to separate the buck because bucks may kill kits. I have occasionally kept rabbits in colonies, and been a little slack with my record keeping. On the occasions when I didn't get the buck out of the colony before kits started to arrive, I have never seen a buck show any interest in the kits at all, either good or bad. What I have seen, is the buck showing a great deal of interest in the doe. A rabbit doe 'comes into use' immediately after her litter is born, so if your buck and doe were together when these kits were born, she is probably pregnant again. A buck pursuing a newly-kindled doe can upset her quite a bit, causing her to run, and stomp her feet; babies can get trampled and injured in the chaos.
I used bold type on the statement above because I didn't want you to miss it with all the other stuff I am yammering on about. You probably have another litter due in another month; writing the date down now can help you be prepared. With you recovering from surgery and all, I'm sure you have your hands full (I hope you are doing well, by the way?), the date could slip your mind. After this, you will need to keep your rabbits separated unless you get them neutered, since rabbits can breed within seconds of being put together.
Edited by Bunnylady - 11/29/15 at 7:36am