Breeding like.... well, like rabbits!?

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Timedess, Jun 26, 2005.

  1. Timedess

    Timedess Guest

    I just got off the phone with a friend of ours, who has a male and a female (pet quality) rabbit. She didn't know they were 1 and 1 until it was "too late", and they ended up with some babies. Not knowing exactly when to take the male out (they had been housed together), and not really having a place to put him, she left him in the cage with the female until she had given birth to 6 babies. She noticed the babies right after they were born, and removed the male while the newborn babies were still wet. 3 of the babies died, and 3 survived. They are one month old exactly today.

    Well, it seems that they "did their thing" IMMEDIATELY after she gave birth, because she got home this afternoon to find not 6, not 7, but 10 newborn babies! The odd thing to her, and why I'm posting, is where the babies were when she found them. Not knowing the female was pregnant, she didn't have a nest box int he cage. 3 were on the ground outside the cage, 3 were in the tray under the cage (!!??), and there were four others, one or two in the feeder and the rest on the floor of the cage. She immediately got the nest box, put all the babies in the nest box with some hay, and Momma hopped right in and started taking care of them. So far, they're all still alive.

    We have a few questions, though: How did those babies get outside the cage, and the others get into the "poop tray"? And, with the first litter of three still being with her, could it be possible that any male bunnies from that first litter might have rebred her, as happened last time with the father still in the cage? Or are 4 week old bunnies *for sure* too young to breed?

    Of course, she and I are both well aware of "not bringing extra bunnies into the world", and she's going to see to it that it doesn't happen again (chalk one up for "inexperience"). That's my little disclaimer, so please, noone needs to lecture us on that aspect. But does anyone know if the month-old male(s) in the previous litter could have rebred the momma, and/or how it's possible that those newborns ended up in such odd places? We'd really appreciate some answers, if possible!
     
  2. animal_kingdom

    animal_kingdom Well-Known Member

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  3. Timedess

    Timedess Guest

    OK, that's what I thought about wiggling to fall between the wires. She says they're soooo close together she can't see how it happened though. I haven't seen the cage yet, so I can't say.

    That's good to know about the males' breeding age, thanks. She has them separated from the mom now. She was wondering about putting them in with their dad 9the adult male), but I thought he might hurt them. She doesn't have any extra cages; they're in the bathtub right now!

    Hers and mine were all from the same litter- we got them when they were just 4 weeks old; they did fine, so we figured that the older litter would also be ok. They were already eating and drinking and all.
     
  4. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We need to clarify a few things, here, before any more accidents happen.

    Bucks are generally "ready to be used" by 5 months... but this does NOT mean that they can't reproduce until that time! It is important to separate litters by sex by TEN weeks of age or there will likely be more unplanned pregnancies! Producers simply wait until 5 months to ensure that the buck is fully matured and that's all. It has nothing to do with the ability to reproduce. Like all mammals, rabbits can mature at different times... some early, and some late... even within the same litter.

    Ironically, your friend was actually lucky that the second litter wasn't born until a full month after the first litter. With a double-horned uterus, they are very capable of carrying two separate litters at the same time! And yes... rabbits *CAN* conceive even when already pregnant! I had a doe deliver a second litter two weeks after the first... all normal. Luckily, we had taken note of both breedings and both litters were born right on time. Hubby had accidentally grabbed the wrong doe at breeding time and the one he grabbed had already been bred two weeks earlier. She was very receptive with the buck and the mistake wasn't found until she was returned to her cage.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
    Chairperson, ARBA Commercial Department Committee
     
  5. animal_kingdom

    animal_kingdom Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the information Pat!

    I knew you had to separate them at about 2 months but I didn't know they could potentially impregnate that early!
     
  6. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Indeed they can, and this is quite common among litters not separated until after the ten week period. It's easy to make the mistake, since we all know that processors don't want fryers older than 12 weeks because "that's when the hormones kick in".... um... normally, that is! :D It doesn't allow for those early maturing bucks and does, though.

    The youngest doe known to have delivered a live litter was 3-1/2 months old. That's 14 weeks of age... which means she was 10 weeks old when she conceived! Ouch. Indeed, I did have surprise pregnancies when I didn't sex and separate my keeper litters early enough, so it is quite common. Just more evidence as to how different rabbits are from most other animals.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
    Chairperson, ARBA Commercial Department Committee
     
  7. Timedess

    Timedess Guest

    that is just wild! my friend is trying to figure out how to tell if they're male or female. hopefully, she'll find them homes soon! i don't think she has any way to separate the young'uns right now (the three, 4-week olds).
     
  8. rabbitgal

    rabbitgal Ex-homesteader

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    LOL, if it was me, I would run out to the nearest pet store and get about two cages ASAP. Four week old rabbits can be weaned just fine. IMHO, all pet-quality stock should be spayed or neutered. That way, you don't have to worry about surprise litters.

    http://islandgems.net/medpics.html has a photo of buck and doe genetalia (right side of page, seven lines down). With a LOT of practice, some ppl sex newborns, but be warned that young rabbits are very difficult for the inexperienced person to sex.
     
  9. Timedess

    Timedess Guest

    Thanks for the link, Rabbitgal- it's the best pics I've seen yet online! I'll pass it on to her.