Diary of a New Rabbit Breeder
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.
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
one of Sparkle's babies was a peanut, and we had
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.