sad, baby bunnies died ... first time mom?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by erinszoo, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. erinszoo

    erinszoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 28, 2011
    North Central Oklahoma
    Well, after much anticipation, our female rabbit gave birth last night some time to four babies. She had been nest building for over a week but she kept trampling the nest after it was built and then she'd rebuild it. She refused to use to the nest box even when we put it in the place she had been building her nest so we just removed it entirely. So we went to check this morning and sure enough there were four babies but they were scattered all over the cage and the nest was trampled. One of the babies looked like it was smashed by her stepping on it. The other three weren't smashed at all but they were all over by themselves and she hadn't fed them or kept them warm. It looked like she had cleaned them up and eaten the placentas properly though. And they were all nicely formed, pretty good sized babies.

    Since she was a first time mom and we don't really know how old she is, we are guessing that she was just too young to know what to do appropriately. Anyone ever have this happen? Will she get better with the next litter or do we need to take precautions and just move her inside where we can keep watch before she gives birth again?
    1 person likes this.
  2. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
    Yes highly likely a first time mommy.

    Try one more time and if she kills her next litter, time to either sell, butcher or strictly a pet/spay.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012
  3. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

    Nov 27, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    I usually tell people that anything you get from a first litter is gravy, because most does manage to mess up the first time out. A lot of it is our fault - her instincts tell her to dig a burrow and have the babies underground. There is nothing natural about a doe giving birth inside a wood or metal box. To me, it's amazing that so many manage to get it right![​IMG]I had one Jersey Wooly doe that took 5 or 6 tries before she had live babies in the box - each time she got more things right, so I let her keep trying. Most get it right on the second or third try - if they have live babies that you can get into the box one way or the other, the doe usually gets it right from there on out.

    If I have a doe that refuses to use the box, I will line her whole cage with hay. That way, whichever corner she chooses, there is enough nest material to (hopefully) keep the kits warm until I can move them to the box. The box helps to keep the kits together. Does usually do not cuddle with their kits to keep them warm, nor will they move the kits if they get out of the nest. If I put the kits in the nest box, I can be reasonably sure they will stay there, but I sometimes have to teach a doe that she needs to get in there to feed the kits (something she does only once or twice a day.)

    Lots of people will tell you that they keep kits outside all year long, and never have losses. I wish I could say the same, but I can't. I have lost entire litters with temperatures in the 50's, when as near as I can tell, the doe did everything right. So at this time of year, I take expectant does and their boxes and put them in my hall closet. Once the litters have been born, the does go back out to their cages, and the babies stay in my house at night (or all day, if I think it's cold enough) and go out to see their mom's in the morning.

    Better luck next time!
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012
  4. Squawkbox

    Squawkbox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 25, 2011
    Sorry about your litte OP [​IMG].

    This is really smart Bunnylady, that way you know they are warm, fed and safe!
  5. erinszoo

    erinszoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 28, 2011
    North Central Oklahoma
    Thanks so much Bunnylady! I feel so much better knowing there is hope for her and us and the info you provided is great!
  6. AprilW

    AprilW Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 7, 2011
    north Georgia
    Next time keep the box in the cage. Some does will try to nest outside it but when the time finally comes they go in the box.

    I would try her again. I give a doe 3 tries and if she hasn't successfully raised a litter, I don't try again. Did she pull any fur at all for the kits? Usually that is a good sign. In the future I would select toward does who do it right on the first try. That's what I've been working on with my Dutch - just last week I had a 7 month old doe give birth to her first litter of 3 in the box, pull fur for warmth, and has cared for them properly thus far. There is hope. [​IMG]

    Good luck on future litters.
  7. erinszoo

    erinszoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 28, 2011
    North Central Oklahoma
    Yep, she pulled fur every day for almost a week but she would line the nest and then tear up the nest and jump all over it. She even kept pulling fur after she'd had the babies. We're not sure exactly how old she is as we were told she was old enough to breed when we got her but she clearly wasn't at all. We waited four months after we got her to try breeding her. So, we're going to wait another month and then try again. She had BIG babies ... at least in our experience but she's a New Zealand/ California cross as close as we can figure and the last rabbits we had were Mini Rex's so I'm sure that makes a huge difference in size of babies. Our mini Rex never had any issues having babies or making nests or anything. She raised six litters in two and half years and built a proper nest every time and stayed outside the whole time. We never had to help her or anything and she never lost a baby at all. So we've been a little befuddled by it all. But we'll try again and see how it goes.
  8. ghostwolf

    ghostwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 31, 2011
    East Chatham, NY
    I am sorry for your loss. My doe did that last year and she had given birth multiple times before but that one time she just did not take care of them and we lost them. But she was re-bred again later and they were fine.
  9. wolfie115

    wolfie115 Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 12, 2011
    I would certainly give her at least two more tries. Just because she messed up doesn't neccasarily mean she's too young. Some does just get really confused their first time around and often times the first litters don't make it. They are almost always much better with their second litter rather than their first. Most rabbits only have to be 6 months old to raise a litter successfully. For larger breeds I'd recommend 8 months. I had a standard rex doe have babies at 7 months old and she did a terrific job. I've also had a doe who was three year old, never had a litter before I got her, and I had to breed her 3 times before I got anything out of her. You don't want to wait too long as it gets difficult for them to have babies. ;3 So, just give her another try, I would rebreed her right away personally as she would be more fertile now than in a month from what I've heard.
  10. erinszoo

    erinszoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 28, 2011
    North Central Oklahoma
    We're going to rebreed her this weekend. She seems to be doing really well and hasn't suffered any for having the last litter so we're off to the races again. [​IMG]

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by