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Diary of a New Rabbit Breeder

 

ynn Wheat and Spunky Bunnies are located in East Texas, where it's hot and beautiful. Lynn's children, Haley and David, got the family started with rabbits as 4-H projects, and now they both want to breed rabbits.


1/13/01      Babies Everywhere!

Our babies are here!

Our first breeding experience was exciting! We tried so hard to get Chelsie pregnant, but first thing we knew, JoAnna was building a nest. She was running around all over the place with hay in her mouth, looking for a place to put her nest.

 

David had put JoAnna in with Taz for about one minute, and she ran in circles the whole time. I would have sworn no breeding took place. However, she started building a nest two weeks later, so I assumed she was pregnant and finally gave in and got her a nest box, even though she wouldn't have been due for another week. On the day we calculated she was due (Dec. 30), she had five babies. The only problem was that it was so very cold, they froze before we could get to them. I had put lots of hay in her cage and turned heat lamps on next to her cage, but it was the coldest day of the year, and the poor babies died.

As I was cleaning out JoAnna's cage, I noticed Sparkle (our other Mini-Rex doe) running around with hay in her mouth! David had put Sparkle in Taz's cage a while back also. I had told him to get her out almost immediately, so once again I was sure no breeding had taken place. Before I could even finish with JoAnna's cage, though, Sparkle had kindled five babies. She cleaned them up and went about her business of eating breakfast. We quickly got a nest box and brought the babies into the house. We've been taking them out for her to feed once every morning. She's a real pro in the mothering department.

 

Unfortunately, one of Sparkle's babies was a peanut, and we had to put him down - I couldn't stand the thought of him starving to death. "Mini" breeds like the Mini Rex were developed by crossing a regular-sized rabbit with a dwarf. Most babies from these mini breeds get one dwarfing gene from only one parent and become a fine example of the breed. In some instances, a baby will get a dwarfing gene from both parents and is called a peanut. These tiny babies can't nurse and will slowly starve to death. I have been told they will live only a few days at most, and those days are agonizing. I checked on the discussion board to make sure that's what we were dealing with, and we waited for one day to make sure he wasn't nursing. Sure enough, he never had a full tummy like the others did. When David made the decision to put the peanut down, I asked him if he wanted me to do it. He said no, that it was his responsibility and he would do it. I was very proud of him because I know how hard it had to be, not only to make the decision, but to actually follow through with it.

About this time I was really nervous because Chelsie had shown no signs of being pregnant, and she was the one that we were really trying to breed. Three days later, as we are cleaning cages, Haley comes running into the house screaming that Chelsie had her babies! Chelsie had eight, but she was too aggressive in cleaning one and it died. We got the others and brought them inside the house. For two weeks we've been taking nest boxes in and out every morning. The first day I had to put Chelsie on the nest box and hold her until the babies started to nurse, but she has really turned into a mom now.

Well, it's warmer now and the kits in the first litter have lots of fur and have opened their eyes. We moved them outside this morning to live with Sparkle in her cage until she weans them. We will move Chelsie's kits out in a couple of days when their eyes completely open.

It's been an exciting two weeks, and our family of bunnies has grown from 7 to 18 in just a very short time. There's sure a lot more to this than I expected. I can't recommend the Rabbit Web Message Board highly enough - I got valuable information there during the first few hours after kindling, which helped me save these babies!

Read more of Lynn's diary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
 

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