Nervous and I'm sure I'll mess something up!

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Sarah J, Mar 1, 2005.

  1. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Hi all,

    I've lurked a bit here and there, but I think this is the first time I've posted on this forum...

    I have three rabbits. Yes, a whole whopping three! Obviously I'm new to this! :haha: I have a Dutch doe for a pet for my children, a New Zealand (with blue eyes, not red ??!?!) white doe, and a buck who is a satin and Californian cross.

    We bred the two meat rabbits a few weeks ago - due date is March 7th. This is her first litter as she's probably only about 7 or 8 months old (I don't have an exact birthdate, but have had her for five months and she was still fairly small when we got her). Just let me know if this is right. I put the nesting box in on the 4th or 5th. She should be pulling out fur and lining the nesting box for the babies, right?

    It has been below freezing here this past week, but she should be able to keep her kits warm with the fur? I will be double checking, probably every hour on the hour that day until she has them!

    Is there anything else I should be doing? I'm nervous, excited and about ready to burst with anticipation....I know things can go wrong, but if I can eliminate MY part in that, I'd feel an awful lot better about it!

    Sarah
     
  2. Rosarybeads

    Rosarybeads Well-Known Member

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    When she has her babies you may want to make sure she nurses, and then bring the whole box inside where it is warm. Bring out the babies a couple times a day so she can nurse them. If your temps are below freezing it will be too cold for them, even if she pulls all her fur! You could consider putting a heat lamp above her cage, or moving her where it is relatively warm. We had a heater in our barns (but we were a production petshop business), and we had to keep it at 50, or else we would start to lose some bunnies (if not alot of fur) Of course, most does could go down to 40, about. Once they get some fur on them you can move them back out, but make sure they are old enough, keep an eye on them!

    Sounds like you are doing everything else right, it's really pretty easy other than the cold.
     

  3. Dian

    Dian Well-Known Member

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    Hi! I don't post much either, but I read a lot. You didn't mention putting something in the nest box, You need something in it to keep the bunnies warm, right now I am using hay I have also used shredded newspaper and I think some people use pine wood chips. Sometimes the mother doesn't pull fur until she has the babies especially a first time mom. Also sometimes instinct doesn't kick in and 1st timers just don't take care of the babies, I hope this doesn't happen to you, but thought you should be aware of the possibility. If it does happen please give the mother another chance, I usually will give mine 3 chances if they haven't caught on by then they are gone.
     
  4. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    I have wood chips from my daughter's guinea pig stores...I also have grass hay, straw, oat hay, alfalfa hay...lots of different possibilities...but I'm guessing either straw or wood chips - which do you think would be better?

    And you're right - I hadn't thought of putting bedding in there for the babies! Thanks!

    -Sarah
    (who intends to eat the bunnies later, so culling the female if she fails too many times won't bother me TOO much, though it would be better to get off to a great start!)
     
  5. TINYMARIA

    TINYMARIA Active Member

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    I wood put wood chips down first, at least an inch, then the hay on top. Im in Mn so weather gets cold here, My rabbits are outside in wood/wire cages. I put up a layer of plastic in the front to help with the cold. hope this helps
     
  6. MikeD

    MikeD Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I'd stick with straight hay of some form. Timothy or alfalfa would be excellent choices. Chips, shavings, or anything else originating from pine or other soft, aromatic or sap woods has been shown to cause respiratory problems in small animals in general including guinea pigs. If you really feel the need to use something other than hay I'd recommend something along the lines of "critter care" or "care fresh" depending on where you purchase it. It is nothing more than recycled newspaper and to date has been reported to be completely safe for small animals as it does not develop any fine dust of anything.
     
  7. Xandras_Zoo

    Xandras_Zoo Well-Known Member

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    Don't get too nervous. Rabbits are meant to reproduce like mad, they rarely have trouble kindling. But yes, make sure their box is cozy :)
     
  8. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Cozy box. Scratch the wood chips, go with alfalfa hay, and plenty of it. Got it. The hutch is in the barn with the chickens and the calves (chickens have the run of the place, calves have their own pen nearby). It's pretty darned protected but the waterers still freeze up overnight...

    Don't get nervous. Riiiiigggghhhhttt! But thank you for the confidence! :haha:

    Thanks everyone!

    Sarah
     
  9. prairiegirl

    prairiegirl Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't post much here either, but stop by often. There's always good information for rabbits.

    But, I'll add another thought. We've had a couple of does over the years that don't follow along and have their babies on schedule. The one always goes over 2-3 days. So, don't give up on her if you don't have bunnies on the 7th.

    Also, we'll let her put the hay into the nest box. Seems like it's busy work for the mama as she prepares for the babies.

    Best of luck

    prairiegirl
     
  10. Rosarybeads

    Rosarybeads Well-Known Member

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    No, no no! Don't skip the wood shavings/chips. The problem mentioned above is with SAWDUST, not shavings or chips (also cedar is known to cause respitory problems. Trust me, after being the main supplier of pet bunnies & all other small animals for Chicago (including guinea pigs), I know what I am talking about! Shavings would be best, more cozy. Never had any respitory problems with ours when we used shavings, and you need it in there, because the mother won't eat it like all the other bedding listed above. And don't give her alfalfa, alfalfa is much too rich for rabbits, and can cause serious problems. They already have the max amount they can eat in their pellets. Timothy or other types of GRASS hay are just fine, however; they are more fiber than anything and will actually benefit the rabbits. Put the pine in the box, and give her hay in her cage to put in the box, or you can add it too. Straw would be fine as well, and she wouldn't eat it as much, and it is a GREAT heat keeper.
     
  11. MikeD

    MikeD Well-Known Member

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    No, Rosarybeads, I did not mean sawdust, I said chips/shavings for a reason. Toxicity does not limit itself to cedar. The one exception that I'd make is "horse shavings" as they are specially processed (heat processed?) which in effect seals the chips and makes them safe for animals. Sarah, I'd suggest that you do a fair amount of research if you can and formulate your own opinions.

    Good luck....
     
  12. Xandras_Zoo

    Xandras_Zoo Well-Known Member

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    Softwood shavings such as aspen are OK.
     
  13. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Okay - what I'm finding is mixed messages...obviously! :haha: From what I can tell, cedar chips are right out (which I knew from guinea pig info). We have shavings that we get packaged in the 3' compressed bags that we use for the guinea pig...I can't see what they are - there is not real label other than "wood shavings"...it is most definitely NOT cedar, but I'm wondering if it's pine?

    I have read that softwood shavings aren't real good, but I also can't get hardwood shavings around here, either. I think maybe my best bet (keeping fingers crossed) is to go ahead and use the ones I have since they have worked great for the guinea pig for the last three years.

    I will take the advice and not use alfalfa, either. I'll go ahead and use the grass hay that we have - richer than the oat hay and straw but not as rich as alfalfa, and it's softer, too.

    Soooo...shavings down first, then the hay. Add hay outside the nesting box and see if Thumper will put it in herself as she arranges things just right...

    And don't panic if it takes an extra day or two for her kits to arrive...

    What am I missing?

    Sarah
    *ticking off the days*
     
  14. Xandras_Zoo

    Xandras_Zoo Well-Known Member

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    Whoops, I'm so sorry! HARDWOOD shavings are OK. Not softwood (like cedar and pine)

    Check the pet store, not the feed store. Shreded aspen comes in compressed little packages. Kaytee is a popular brand.
    It's waayyyyy more expensive then the cedar, but you will only need a little for a nest box.
     
  15. dugan

    dugan Well-Known Member

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    Your does kits will be fine to at least 20 degrees if doe makes a good nest and there are no drafts.If it gets in single digits i use a nestbox warmer and they have worked every time.I use oat straw,alfalfa is fine for nesting because the little bit they eat will not hurt them like feeding it all the time.Lossing kits below 50,strange to me. Good luck Sarah
     
  16. Rosarybeads

    Rosarybeads Well-Known Member

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    The ones we lost below fifty were mainly ones that came out of the box (we would put back in, etc), or does that didn't pull much fur. We were in it for a business, so we had to keep the temps where it would save all the bunnies. We also had little bunnies (netherlands), and they didn't have as many babies, so they didn't keep each other as warm. We had larger (dutch & mini-lop), and they were better, especially the lops. Once we got down in the 30's we would start to lose more of our litters, and I would imagine the lower you get, the more you would lose. I should have been more clear above.
     
  17. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    So I have the nesting box in now, as of about an hour ago...and she's moving hay all over the place, but trying to build a nest (or at least that's what it looks like to *me*) NEXT to the box, not in it...is that normal? Will she figure out that the box is a better place? Especially given that the small amount of space next to the box isn't even enough for her to turn around? She has to *back* out of that area...should I block the area so she can't get in there and only has the nest box? Or will it be okay as is?

    A bit confused, but satisfied that she's showing the right signs...

    -Sarah
     
  18. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sarah, we had our second litter last night, so I am barely more experienced than you, but, FWIW, if your doe can barely turn around in her cage with the nest box in it then I think that either your box is too big, your cage is too small, or both. If you were to leave the box in the cage it would have to stay in for at least 2, maybe 3 weeks- sounds a bit cozy for the doe.

    When we first put in the nest boxes the does also carried around the hay for awhile- they also ate a lot of the hay which we put directly into the boxes. But, eventually they made nests in the nest boxes and had the kits there. Can't say if the same will hold true for your doe, but I would not worry about it for a day or two, at least. Give her some time alone to get used to the box and see what happens. I would definitely not try to confine her to the nest box.

    Time to go haul another nest box out to the doe for nursing, gotta run, lol. Good luck. If she doesn't figure it out in a day or so maybe one of our experienced breeders will check in and have some advice.
     
  19. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    It's just that one end of the cage. The nest box takes up most of the space over there - should I turn it? The cage is quite LONG, just not all that wide...and I set it facing forward along the back wall...which leanes only about 5 inches to the side of it.

    It's a sectioned cage. I'll take the center section out and move the other doe to another cage. Then Thumper can have the run of the entire thing (but that's *really* huge!)...but she really doesn't seem to like the nest box. *sigh* Here's hoping.

    -Sarah
     
  20. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    And in the space of twenty minutes between when I removed the center section and gave her the run of the place and when I finished the rest of my morning chores, Thumper created a brand new thick nest NEXT to the nesting box (*sigh* Okay - new and bigger nesting box next time), lined it with fur and delivered six squirmy and naked, spotted babies.

    She appears to be very proud of herself - has that look like she's telling me "you're doing it wrong, but I fixed it". :rolleyes:

    So okay - she knew better than me what to do, eh? :cool:

    Thanks for the help and advice. I'll get a bigger nesting box and see if that convinces her to use it next time...the babies seem pretty well-off where she placed the nest, but I'll be keeping an eye on them to be sure!

    Sarah