First time Momma Rabbit... Yikes!

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by MaggieJ, Jul 19, 2006.

  1. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Up until now, our two experienced does have kindled successfully, so I have no experience with kindling problems.

    My junior doe, Rosamund, gave birth yesterday morning - Day 33, counting the breeding day as Day One. She had six kits, three on the wire and three in the box. Two of the ones on the wire were dead when I went down in the morning and the third was cool but alive. I warmed him up for a bit and then put him in the nestbox with the other two live kits. There was also a dead kit in the nest box, still half inside the membrane. There seemed more placental material and blood spots about, but perhaps the rabbits usually dispose of it before I get there. Rosamund seems fine, very perky in fact.

    Rosamund had eagerly played in the nest box and seemed to be making a nest when I gave her the nest box on Day 28. But when she kindled, she just seemed to randomly drop the babies anywhere.

    She did not pull fur. I tried pulling fur for her, but she became agitated and started jumping about and I was afraid she would trample the babies. No one was handy at the time to help me by restraining her, so I put in some goose feathers - not pure down because I thought it might cause breathing problems, but small soft feathers with a bit of down on the shafts. This worked wonderfully well and they are snuggled down in their little nest and seem to be comfortable.

    I'm not sure if she is feeding them. I usually don't handle the kits this young, just make sure they are all living. These kits seem on the small side. The ones that died were larger. However, these are active when I check on them and are beginning to show a haze of fur.

    Rosamund is not at all protective of them. I'm used to momma rabbits who get uptight when you try to touch the nest. I know that rabbits new to motherhood often do not do well the first time.

    It's hot enough here - highs between 80 and 85 - but not like so many other places I've been hearing about.

    I'm not even sure why I am inflicting this very long account on all of you, but I guess I want to make sure I'm not missing something that I should be doing for them. Anyone have input?
     
  2. CountryDreams

    CountryDreams Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry that your doe is giving you fits with her first litter. It sounds like you have done all you can do. I'd pick up the kits to make sure she is feeding them. Do you have another doe with kits near the same age that you could foster the kits off to? If you do, that might be the best thing, especially if she isn't feeding them.

    Give the doe another chance and see if she is a better mother the second time around. I usually give the new does three chances but that's because I'm not a commercial breeder. We just breed for our own freezer. Other breeders would probably tell you to cull her if she wasn't better with her second litter.

    Good luck with the babies. I hope they make it okay.
     

  3. Honorine

    Honorine Carpe Vinum Supporter

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    I've gotten into the habit of breeding experienced mothers a day or two before a new mother, so that I can foster the babies over. Its not uncommon for a first timer to lose her first litter because of neglect, they often don't 'get it' till the second litter. Protectiveness is also something that comes with time and experience, many of my does get progressively protective with each litter. I always touch the babies when their just born and often after, most does don't mind, nor will they reject them because of it. It sounds like you've done all that you can, now you just have to hope she'll care for them. Using goose feathers I'm unfamiliar with, I try to save clean fur from other does and use dryer lint for when a doe doesn't pull. I hate to say this, but often when I have a doe that doesn't pull at all she also doesn't take care of her babies, and sometimes mutilates them. Those does I don't even give a chance, just take her babies and give them to another doe. Watch her, make certain to remove dead kits from the nest and cross your fingers. I hope she does take care of them.
     
  4. BellsBunnies

    BellsBunnies Well-Known Member

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    We save the dryer lint also. The larger kits that died may have been what they call fetal giants and are almost always dead. Tha smaller ones could be peanuts. You can look at their tummy early in the mornig or late in the evening and If she is feeding them they may look like little frog tummies. Most rabbits only feed their kits once a day. Since one of the kits was still in the membrane she may have had complications - like a stuck kit (since some of the kits were on the larger side) I would give her another chance to see what kind of mom she is going to be. Good-Luck
     
  5. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks, everyone, for your support... It really helps when things go wrong. I will certainly give Rosamund a second chance, regardless of how things turn out this time.

    That is good advice, Honorine, about breeding a proven doe a day or two in advance. I wish I had done that this time! I didn't think of dryer lint... but my son suggested harvesting fur from the next rabbits we process to save for such occasions. The goose feathers are working well, however, and are easily pushed aside at feeding time or if the buns get too warm.

    Rosamund did not, I am glad to say, mutilate any of the babies. She just doesn't seem to get it. I think she may have fed them today... but I'm not sure because I have no basis for comparison. But they didn't look bad this evening and I would think that after a full 36 hours, they would be pretty weak if they had not been fed, would they not?

    Well, nothing more I can do tonight. If they are still alive and active in the morning, I will start to believe they may survive. I'll post an update then.

    It's been a rough week here.

    On Sunday, Marilla (the cat who rules this house and kindly allows us to live here as long as we cater to her every whim) killed two bats in the house. (Thank goodness she has had her shots!)

    On Monday, a second gosling disappeared without a trace. I say gosling, but they are almost as big as their mommas, so the predator would need to be quite strong to nab and carry it off.

    And then on Tuesday, Rosamund having such a difficult time with her kits.

    Gee! Nothing bad happened today!!!! Things are looking up! :bouncy:
     
  6. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well, the kits are still alive and lively this morning. That's 48 hours... Keeping my fingers crossed that they will make it. Rosamund seems to show slight signs of protectiveness. As soon as I opened the cage, she jumped into the nest box between me and the babies. Not aggressive, just the right degree of protectiveness. So maybe her maternal instincts are kicking in... Or maybe it was just coincidence.
     
  7. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    All three kits were dead this morning. Drat! I had begun to hope they would make it... but no such luck. I'll breed Rosamund again when the weather cools down a bit.
     
  8. Honorine

    Honorine Carpe Vinum Supporter

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    So sorry Maggie, what a disapointment. When you breed her, although its her second litter, still breed an experienced doe too, just in case. I give does three times, they lose three litters their done. I hope you have better luck next time.
     
  9. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks, Honorine! It is disappointing, of course, but you have to expect a few bumps in the road. You can be sure that I will breed an experienced doe at the same time as I breed Rosamund or any first time momma rabbit in future. I meant to this time... but things got a bit crazy here and too many days went by.