Well, it finally happened! Despite our 3 strikes at rabbit breeding, and my anxious post on Friday (see Is this Rabbit Pregnant??), we are finally a small, but breeding, rabbitry.
In the last few hours, our girls did basically EVERYTHING on that checklist of positive pregnancy signs, except for getting cranky with us:
As of Saturday night, no one had started pulling fur, though…and they weren’t scheduled to have the kits until SUNDAY night. So we went to bed. Sunday morning, I went out to free the chickens and check the rabbits as usual, and look what I found!
A giant ball of pulled fur, and it MOVED! Moreover, there was the remains of what was clearly a placenta under the hutch. Mostly, rabbits eat all of the birth detritus, which helps to protect the kits from predators, but this chunk must have slipped through the wire. And Grace was just calmly sitting there, like “yeah, I had babies. NBD.” So I gave her some Calf Manna (supplement for nursing mammals), and went back in to have some tea.
Later, when the household was awake, we carefully pulled the nest forward and checked the kits: EIGHT! Eight tiny wiggling alien-looking critters, all with nice round bellies (a positive sign: means Grace had nursed them), in a cloud of rabbit fur and straw. Eight’s a good number: we won’t have to worry much about them being cold in the night, since they keep each other warm.
Fascinating rabbit fact: rabbits don’t actually hang out with their babies. They hop in twice a day to feed them and rearrange the nest, and that’s all.
At this point, there was no action from Rhetta yet, but we figured she must be close. Later on Sunday, I looked at her on my way out to do a little yard work: nothing. Then on my way back: ANOTHER full ball of pulled hair. I figured she was getting ready to birth, but E said she thought she saw something moving in there. What was the possibility that she’d popped out all her babies in that (maybe 20 minute) time span?
Pretty damn good. Another 5 kits, bigger than Grace’s, and she too was just lying around…”what? I’m a rabbit, it’s what we do.”
As of this morning, all THIRTEEN babies are happy, healthy, and growing. I know the pics are a little disappointing, but over the next ten days they’ll grow some fur and become MUCH more photogenic. You can actually see kits in both pictures, but they’re grey and blend in with the loose fur. In the meantime, we’re not disturbing the nest unless we have to. Once a day to check that they’re all alive and fed, and that’s it.
We’re totally pleased as punch, though. Rabbit breeding failures no more! Yay Lucky Thirteen!
Until next time,