Saturday, January 2, 2010

Baby Bunnies!

Our girl Maddie, an Agouti French Angora doe, recently had this litter of 6 kits by our German Angora Fritz, who is a Chinchilla Blue. At a day old, three of the kits are pink, and three are dark. In a few days we'll have a better idea of what colors they'll actually be. Babies will be ready for new homes around Valentine's day 2010.

I thought I'd post some of what we've learned so far for anyone thinking of breeding their rabbits.

First, Maddie's demeanor changed while she was pregnant. She became less tolerant of intrusions into her space (i.e. she would give me the hairy eyeball and grunt when I cleaned the cage). Within perhaps a week of breeding, she began nesting. She was constantly re-arranging the hay in her cage to different corners and boxes. Gestation is 32-35 days in angoras, and at 31 days she began plucking large amounts of hair from her body for the nest. That evening, I pulled everything out of her cage and cleaned it out. I removed the fiber from the box, cleaned the box she had chosen as a nest and put in fresh litter and hay, then cut up the fiber and put it back in the box. The next morning when we peeked in the hair was twitching. Further inspection revealed 6 tiny little buns warm in their nest of momma's fiber.

In talking to other breeders, we learned that as prey animals, rabbits protect their nest by not actually spending much time in it, in hopes of not drawing attention to the kits. At this age they only nurse once or twice per day for 5-10 min at a time. You will likely not see mom do more than check over the nest unless you remove the nestbox and only place them in the cage for a short period of time. But as long as the kits have round, fat bellies, and are warm and toasty, you will know they are being cared for.

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