Unexpected gender issues

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by perridox, Aug 25, 2006.

  1. perridox

    perridox Well-Known Member

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    Hi,

    We are new rabbit owners-- got our first three angoras about 4 months ago. We'd planned on keeping three pet bunnies of one gender (We were told they were does) But, as it turns out, we have 2 bucks and a doe! (We figured this out when the two bucks began fighting in the hutch.) However, our 3 kids are all attached to their bunnies now. So here we are...

    We'd like to try breeding them, at least once (We know several people who'd want one of the babies) but aren't sure about new living arrangements for the three.

    We've divided our extra large hutch into two sections and separated the bucks. Can we leave the doe in with one of the bucks? If not, can they all be separate but within sight of each other? I'm assuming the doe must be separated when and after she gives birth.

    Thanks in advance, for any suggestions or advice.
    PW
     
  2. holleegee

    holleegee Well-Known Member

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    Yes they should be seperated. I have read that if the doe and buck are housed together he won't leave her alone (constantly wanting to breed.) Then you wouldn't know when the babies are due (does can be pregnant with two seperate litters of kits.) I'm not sure how a buck would be with a nest of babies but I wouldn't risk it. You want your angoras to grow wool and I think it would stress her out if you housed them together (I'm sure it would matt her wool with him constantly trying to breed.)

    Another thing to think about, bucks tend to spray urine so you might want to get urine guards so they won't spray each other ;)

    I have english angoras and LOVE them!!
     

  3. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    They say that hindsight is always the best, but in this case, it may be devastating. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it would have been good if you had done some research on rabbits *before* you even got any. However, what's done is done, so now we have to try to make the best of it.

    The rule of thumb to go by with rabbits is: Two bucks will fight, two does will fight, and a buck and doe will breed.... constantly! Rabbits do *not* "come into season" like other animals and are capable of breeding year-round. Chances are very liikely that your doe is already pregnant. Rabbit hormones start kicking in between 10 to 12 weeks of age, so don't think they're just "too young" to breed and reproduce. The youngest doe known to have delivered a live litter was only 3-1/2 months old. The gestation period is 28 to 32 days, which puts her right at 10 weeks of age when she conceived. Since the bucks have already been fighting, then, that's evidence of the hormones being already active.

    Keeping a doe with a buck (unless they have been neutered and spayed) definitely is not advisable. Not only will they constantly breed, but when the doe becomes tired of being pestered by the buck, she will often inflict bodily harm to the buck... usually by physically castrating him. Ironically, if she is pregnant, it is not a guarantee that she will refuse to breed or fight off the buck. Since rabbits are unique with a double-horned uterus, the doe can actually be pregnant with two separate litters to be born at two different times. This means she can and may still breed even when pregnant... and conceive a second time while pregnant with the first one.

    Some bucks have been known to kill the young out of jealousy. Many does will view a buck as a "threat" to the newborn and may kill the young, themselves, rather than to let the buck kill them. Rabbits are funny that way.

    Of course, there's always the possibility that you are "assuming" the two fighting rabbits are bucks, but does can fight, too. You really need to learn how to sex them properly.... and get a good book on rabbits, too! "Rabbit Production," 8th edition, by McNitt, Lukefahr, Patton & Cheeke, is strongly recommended and may well be the only book you will ever need. Best price for this book can be found on this web site:

    http://phcatalog.pearson.com/co_home.cfm?site_id=6

    Just do a search by title in the search field at the top of the page.

    You will need a nest box for the doe to have her litter in... and with bedding! Straw or hay is recommended for bedding, and I lean heavily more towards using straw since the doe won't eat the straw as readily as she would the hay.

    So, get busy and plan on 3 cages and/or hutches and a nest box. Yes, the rabbits can be within sight of each other, but please DO keep them all separate.

    Wishing you luck...

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

    perridox Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the helpful replies. I'll separate them tomorrow.

    The guy we bought them from "sexed" them and so we thought we'd be alright. I didn't realize does fought too-- I remember hearing they were territorial but thought that the three would consider the hutch theirs, like a dog pack. Yup, I should have done more research. Last night I read up on sexing and double checked today. Two are definitely bucks.

    One more question-- I remember hearing that rabbits are social animals, living in warrens. Will they be alright permanently separated?

    PW
     
  5. CountryDreams

    CountryDreams Well-Known Member

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    They will be fine in separate cages. I keep all of my rabbits in separate cages but within sight of other rabbits. Some are in side by side cages and some are not.
     
  6. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's not uncommon to miss-sex young rabbits. The younger they are, the more difficult it is to sex them, and it doesn't matter what breed it is, either. Even young Flemish Giants can be difficult to sex. We just laugh it off and refer to it as "a visit from the Sex Change Fairy," and in a case like yours, we just have to prepare for the possible litter. It happens. Glad to know you've started reading up on rabbits, though. :)

    Yes, rabbits *can* be sociable creatures... but at their *own* choosing! The head doe and buck will literally "choose" who to share their warren with. This behavior has caused considerable difficulty in the "bonding" of two pet rabbits... which are almost always of the *owners'* choosing and not of the rabbits' choice. Seems they like to choose who their own friends are, too. As a result, most producers use the rule of "one rabbit per cage" except for young weaned litters, but even the litters have to be separated by sex by 10 weeks of age or younger, and keep watch for fighters during that time. "Colony raising" has been successful only on a small scale and with extremely careful observation to prevent fighting, and if the buck isn't kept separate, then, there is no control over the breeding. Certainly not recommended for Angora rabbits which require constant grooming.

    Yes, rabbits are just fine in cages, and will consider the cage to be its "territory" (e.g., "warren"). They will protect it at all costs, sometimes even to the point of perceiving the human caretaker as an "intruder." Especially does with new litters. With human interaction and in view of the other rabbits, they don't seem to get "lonely" as many mistakenly believe. Rabbits actually seem to prefer to be separate. Of course, there will always be the exceptions... every rabbit is different.

    Looks like you're getting a crash course, here, eh? :)

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

    perridox Well-Known Member

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    Wow! Thanks for all the help. We separated the pair this morning and also gave the doe some bedding. I guess we're ready...? This is an amazing resource. Thanks again!
     
  8. Xandras_Zoo

    Xandras_Zoo Well-Known Member

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    Pat Lamar is the bunny encyclopedia. :)

    If she doesn't have one already, you may want to give her some sort of
    nesting box.
    If she starts pulling fur you can be pretty sure you have babies coming. :)
     
  9. perridox

    perridox Well-Known Member

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    The hutch we bought (Garage sale) came with a wooden box-- fully enclosed-- with a doorway on one side. The top can be unlatched and lifted. The kinding boxes at the site above were open on top. Will the one we have work out alright?
     
  10. Xandras_Zoo

    Xandras_Zoo Well-Known Member

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    For sure. Should keep the babies nice and warm
     
  11. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes, it will work just fine... *IF* the doe doesn't decide that the nesting box is in her potty corner! Rabbits are "creatures of habit" and will *usually* choose one corner of the cage as the bathroom. Now, I say "usually" because of an incident I had, wherein no matter what corner I placed the nest box, the doe used it as a bathroom. It finally dawned on me that the doe had expensive tastes and insisted on a "four-bathroom" cage! I finally succeeded by placing the nest box in the MIDDLE of the cage!

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

    Dee Well-Known Member

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    Don't forget to give her lots of hay to fill her box. You will know when she is getting close because she STUFF her face with hay to fill the nest. (really is the cutest thing to see before the babies arrive)

    If you are thinking of keeping the bunnies as pets only, you can get them neutered. It would give them better personalities and they may be able to go together again.

    I had a warren where four does lived together for years, caring full for each others kits. One year, the first doe to kindle kept all the other does away from the nest boxes. I had to separate them after that.
     
  13. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like the sex-change fairy has made a visit to your place. :rolleyes:
    Happens all the time.

    One other reason for separating angoras that I have not read here yet.

    It will keep their coats in better condition. Of course fighting damages the coat, but also 2 angoras laying against eachother will cause matting much faster. Also, they tend to chew eachother's coats. This is bad for 2 reasons. One, it ruins the appearance of the wool, and two, thei ingest wool, possibly leading to wool block.

    That brings on another question - have you been shown how to groom, how to harvest the wool, and how to avoid terribly matted coats? Do you know how to avoid woolblock, and treat it if it occurs?

    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com