We have had many ups and downs with the rabbits in the months since the first three arrived back in September. Much has happened, and so I would like to write a post to bring you up to date.
When we first got our two does and one buck the does had been bred the day before we picked them up and were therefore due a month after we got them.
Three weeks after we picked them up, one of the does, Arania, started showing nesting behaviors. Even though they weren’t due for another 10 days we decided to give her a nest, just in case. Good thing we did because about 36 hours later we had 6 kits! Surprise! I called the breeder and found out that she had been living in a cage with a buck 2 weeks before we picked her up. She lived with him for about a week. She was still pretty young, but apparently matured a little early. She was an excellent mother and put every single kit in the nest box and covered them all with fur and nursed them. We didn’t lose any at all.
As they grew it became clear they were purebred Champagne D’ Argents (we didn’t know who the previous owner had bred her to). So they were all black at first, and then they silvered as they got older.
Here are some pictures of kits as they grow and change. These are from several years ago and are not recent litters.
The other doe that was bred, Fern, did not produce a litter. No big deal, she was pretty young still so we decided to give her another try once our buck was old enough to breed her. As time went on we began to see drastic differences in the personalities of our new rabbits. Arania was laid back and sweet, Homer was laid back and friendly, but Fern was very skittish, grouchy, and aggressive.
Both does ended up being bred the same week (Arania had finished raising her litter and the buck was old enough). Arania did great with the breeding, whereas Fern was aggressive and nasty with us and with the buck. She did allow the breeding, but it was after she attempted to tear him apart for several minutes. Four weeks later Arania did perfectly again (10 live kits, in the nest box, covered with fur, and well fed – 1 stillborn), but Fern didn’t fare so well.
It is normal for a first time rabbit mom to not put the babies in the nest box, and instead put them on the wire where they can accidentally freeze to death. So when a first time mom is giving birth we check on her hourly during the day so we can hopefully see if she is putting them on the wire and if she is then we can put them in the nest. I checked on Fern all day long. She was very anxious and seemed to be in labor. Then, all at once, in less than an hour, she gave birth to all the babies, on the wire, and they were all stillborn (we have never had a full litter of still-borns, though I have heard of it happening). 😦 Bummer.
Meanwhile, the breeder was getting out of the rabbit business and offered us more rabbits if we wanted them. We decided to take another Champagne doe, since Fern was not proving herself yet, and she was bred when we went to pick her up. We named her Ivory. We re-bred Fern as well and they were both due the same week. One week before their due date Ivory died. We have no idea what happened. She was showing no signs of sickness. She was eating, drinking, acting totally normal, and then she was dead. She had some blood around her back end, so we don’t know if she had a problem with the pregnancy or what. It was very disheartening.
A week later, Fern gave birth again. Again, all stillborn and on the wire. :-S Frustrating! Like I said we have never had this happen before. And Fern’s attitude towards the buck and towards us is continuing the be nasty. The kids are not allowed to handle her. So because of her lack of production, mixed with her nasty nature, we are seriously considering removing her from the colony. We might give her one more chance at raising a litter.
Arania is continuing to do excellent, and we are planning to breed her in the next week or so.
Recently, we got a new doe. This one is a Red New Zealand (my favorite breed!). The kids have named her “Little Miss Fuzz Tail,” after a Peter Rabbit book they have. She is very pretty and we are excited to have her in our Rabbitry. She is still young and wont be breeding until the spring.