Questions about first-time rabbit mother

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by MidwestMatthew, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. MidwestMatthew

    MidwestMatthew Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    79
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2016
    We have a doe that's about ten months old who just had her first litter sometime this afternoon. 8 babies, 7 born in the nest box, one on the wire that died before we realized anything was happening.

    She pulled very, very little fur (just a few tufts) but I added a couple of inches of pine shavings to the nest box and the babies seem to be doing OK so far. I think she's nursing but I'm concerned they'll freeze without any fur in there. I tried to pull some out of her dewlap myself, but she got extremely agitated and went and jumped on top of the babies as soon as I let go of her. So I'm a little reluctant to try that again.

    It's getting down to 46 tonight and mid-20's within the next few nights. Do I need to do anything else to keep these little babies warm? I don't want to inhibit nursing but don't know what to do since we don't have any spare fur. (Next time our other doe gives birth, I'm going to keep the fur since she pulls a good amount. But that doesn't help tonight...)

    Thanks for any advice!
     
  2. Marinea

    Marinea Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    SW Virginia
    You have options. First, there are a few things you can use in place of fur- pulled apart cotton balls, dryer lint. I have used both with success. And I am assuming the nestbox is full of hay/straw in addition to the chips.

    Another option I have used with success is bringing in the nestbox. I take it out for feedings in the morning and evening and bring it back in after the kits are fed. I do that, depending on the weather, for the first two weeks.

    As an aside, I free feed nursing does and add some sunflower seeds a few times a week.
     
    nehimama likes this.

  3. ladytoysdream

    ladytoysdream Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,164
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2008
    Location:
    New York
    I hope you brought the babies in the house. You need rabbit fur to keep them warm. It is the fur that traps the body heat and keeps the babies in the nest warm. Other items are okay but the rabbit fur is ideal. You will have to take them in and out for awhile till the temps gets better. Your mommy rabbit still might pull fur on her own. Let the babies eat and then bring them back in house. Don't leave them out in the cold.
     
  4. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    5,102
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    South Carolina
    You can also pull fur from the mother! Good Luck
     
  5. MidwestMatthew

    MidwestMatthew Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    79
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2016
    Thanks for the ideas guys. We pulled apart a bunch of cotton balls and covered them up last night and everyone seems fine this morning (of course, it was only into the low 40's). It looks like she's nursing them fine so far, although I guess time will tell for that.

    I would love to pull some fur from the mother, but like I said, she got very agitated when I tried and went and trampled the kits as soon as she could get away. (This particular doe has seen the nest box as her "safe place" since we put it in with her.)

    Bringing them inside is of course an option, but how will I know if they're getting nursed? Is there a certain time of day that they for sure need to be outside?

    Thanks again! Someday I'll be the experienced rabbiteer answering these questions, but for now I sure appreciate the rest of you sharing!
     
  6. ladytoysdream

    ladytoysdream Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,164
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2008
    Location:
    New York
    You are going to need a slicker brush to brush her with. You can get them online or maybe a local store might have one. A dog grooming business maybe. The brush has tiny metal teeth. Then put your doe on a flat surface. Pet her to calm her down. Then use the brush on her back. You are grooming her. Clean the brush as you go, and put the fur in a box / bag / whatever to collect it in. Put what you get in with the babies. Make sure they are tucked down in the hay. If you can't get enough fur off of her and you have other rabbits, then groom them and collect that fur also. Give her a small treat when you are done working with her. Stay away from the belly area. You don't want that brush ripping her teats.
     
  7. Marinea

    Marinea Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    SW Virginia
    I take kits out in the morning and after dark. The does usually jump right in to nurse. I stick around until they are done and then bring the boxes back in.

    I also check the kits daily to make sure all are being fed. If any look wrinkly, I will separate out the smaller kits and give them an extra feeding by themselves, letting the fattest skip a feeding.
     
  8. Ray

    Ray Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    983
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2002
    Location:
    MO
    always some adversity going on in life!! hopefully she will pull some hair soon? although?? I have seen a few that didn't pull nearly enough! ever! but most times you can manage? As they only nurse once at most twice? a day. If you have time you can do as mentioned, bring them in the house, and take them out twice and stay there watching till they have been fed! then back to the warmth! I might put a ele. warmer pad under them outside and leave them in their pen. monitor them as needed? much easier, but maybe not as efficient? If she doesn't pull hair next time? I'd quit breeding her! and either butcher, sell, or keep her as a non breeding pet! But not keep breeding any rabbit that is NOT a good mother! If you want the best mother breed! I believe the Dutch breed has far superior mothering instincts than any other I have ever raised! I used to raise meat rabbits and kept Several Dutch Doe bred and kindling at same time as my new zealand's as to have emergency mothers for kits that were abandon for one reason or another?? As most Dutch will accept orphans without question!! and raise them as their own! I have had as many as twenty or more on one mom! Not the best scernio!! but they almost always kept all alive! Even tho the Dutch is a smaller size breed. They are exceptional mothers!!!
    If I recall the Dutch were a bit more temperamental! touchy? with a more independent personality? They were mother machines!!!
     
  9. MidwestMatthew

    MidwestMatthew Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    79
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2016
    Everything seems fine so far. We kept them outside, covered with torn up cotton balls. It's been in the 20's at night lately and just above freezing during the day, and everyone seems fine. Babies are nice and fat and active. Considering other things I've heard about young, first-time rabbit litters, I'm impressed with this girl so far!