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My female will be giving birth tonight, this will be our second litter. The first time I put a nice nest box full of hay in there. She took all the hay out and just made a nest purely of her own hair. It was a great nest, kept the bunnies warm and worked great. This time I put the nest box with the hay in there and she just sits there with a mouthful of hay like a dog with a bone. She tore all the hay out so I assume she'll fill it with hair shortly before birthing. Is this normal? Do your females use the hay/bedding or do they make a nest purely out of hair?
 

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J,

The hay in the mouth is normal that is how i tell when they are going to kindle, she is gather nesting materials! I had one first time mother take all the hay out and build the nest out side the box i simple moved it all well as i could back into the box. All i do is take enough straw to fill the bottom then a make a little cubbie hole in the back bottom and place extra straw in there cage i like put it all over but i have large cages. I have yet to have a doe who i know has bun's in the over birth out side the box or not build a nest, even the one i thought who wasnt gonna give birth build a nest after word with straw and hair.

The only question i have for you is was the hay you gave her still in the cage after she took it out of the box? The only thing i can think is she was making the nest her way took the hay out and it fell out of her cage so all she had left to make a nest was her own fur. I personally use straw cause here it is cheaper then hay and most of the time the straw is much harder for them to lose.
 

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Some does get the urge to dig when nesting. In the wild (or if you do a colony on ground) rabbits would dig huge warrens, sometimes 8' or more, to put their kits in. They can end up throwing all the material out of the box when they try to dig a nest in there. I just put some back in. When they are ready to finalize their nest they usually stop digging and shove things back in the box unless they try to nest elsewhere in the cage. When they decide to finish their nest can be different between rabbits. Some will start early and make a great nest a week in advance. Most do it a day or 2 before kindling. A few will not pull fur and make a nest until the kits are in the box. As long as she isn't trying to build a nest on the wire just keep giving her bits of hay or straw and keeping a layer of something absorbent like shavings in the bottom of the box.
 
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