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Rabbit Rhythm 56 – Curiosity and crossbreeding rabbits, fixing eye infections, and more
January 22, 2015

Rabbit Rhythms of February

Curiosity and Crossbreeding Rabbits

Eugene in the USA asks: "Hey, I tried to breed my Mini Rex Buck with a "meat rabbit" doe. She's like twice his size, but I was curious on the results. However, when attempting to breed, my buck didn’t really fall off my doe. I was thinking that maybe since she's so big I probably couldn’t tell if he did or not.

"But now, she's being mean, has been digging, and has been eating a lot so I have high hopes. Thing is though, she's not as big as my other doe that was bred around the same time with a different male. She's expected to give birth before my other doe though. How can I be sure or do I just have to wait it out?"

Above: The Cinnamon rabbit breed is at least partly due to an active curiosity in one family's children. A prolonged breeding program resulted in these beautiful animals, and ARBA recognition as a new breed.

Curiosity kills us, doesn’t it?! And Eugene has it pretty bad, which is wonderful. After all, curiosity is what got humans to the moon and back.

Yes, size matters, as far as the buck being able to impregnate the doe, but only if the two rabbits fail to manage the logistics of mating. The greater the difference in size, the more it matters. For example, if you attempt a breeding between a Flemish Giant doe and a Netherland Dwarf buck (and folks HAVE tried this combination!), your chances for a successful mating would probably drop into the basement.

A fall-off is typical, but the lack of it is not proof of a failure to mate. Before placing the doe back in her cage, tip her over and check her vent. If it is moist with mucus, the buck did his job.

The best way to know if the breeding actually “took” is to palpate the dam around days 10 - 12. You’ll be able to feel the growing fetuses, which will feel like grape-sized lumps within the abdominal cavity.

If you don’t palpate, then watching the doe’s behavior, as Eugene is doing, is the next best thing. And he’s right to be optimistic about the possibilities: his doe is certainly acting pregnant.

By the way, Rabbit Raising Problem Solver goes into all kinds of detail about all of this, including some fantastic artist’s drawings on how to palpate and what the pregnant reproductive tract looks like. You can obtain the book at the link above, or on Amazon.com, or through other book sellers.

About that curiosity: What happens when one breeds a Mini Rex buck to a meat rabbit doe? The outcomes when cross-breeding like this are very unpredictable. The offspring will have traits from both breeds. In this case, all the offspring will be normal-furred (no rex fur in this first generation), and small-to-medium size. Their colors and other appearance traits will depend on the colors of the sire and dam, info that was not supplied to us.

So yes, Eugene, without having checked the vent just after mating or palpating 10 days later, you get to optimistically wait it out. Hopefully your curiosity will be satisfied.

For more information:

Pregnant Rabbits
Breeding Rabbits
Rabbit Genetics
Domestic Rabbit Breeds



Rabbit Husbandry

Rabbits as a Viable
Commercial Enterprise?

We had no sooner announced the availability of frozen raw rabbit for feeding dogs and cats, than we heard from a rabbit breeder who wanted to participate in the rabbit breeder network that is Rabbits4U.

This is good!

Rabbits4U produces and markets raw frozen rabbits specifically for feeding your pet dogs, cats, snakes, and any other carnivore pets you may have. By developing a network of breeders, Carla Carter (of Carter Farms and the owner/manager of Rabbits4U) can arrange for a nearby breeder to ship your order of frozen rabbit, thereby decreasing transit time and shipping costs.

It becomes a win-win-win for everybody, including rabbit breeders who love raising rabbits and love earning extra money while they're at it.

Ms Carter kindly wrote 3 guest posts for Raising-Rabbits readers. Check them out if the idea of raising meat rabbits for added income has crossed your mind:

Raising Rabbits for Meat: Introduction to Commercial Rabbit Production

Profitability in Commercial Rabbit Production

Feeding Commercial Rabbits for Rapid Growth

If you also are interested in raising meat rabbits commercially, contact Carla through her websites (above). Let her know that Karen at Raising-Rabbits sent you!

See www.raising-rabbits.com/raw-rabbit.html for more info on the products offered by Rabbits4U (available directly through Raising-Rabbits).



Healthy Rabbits

14 Days Old, and Kits’ Eyes Still Closed

We heard recently from an anonymous rabbit owner:

“My doe had unexpected kits, two of them. I did my research and I have taken care of them. They are now two full weeks old and they hop around the cage, they nibble on their momma's pellets, and have thick hair. They seem healthy and active, but their eyes are not open!

"Everywhere I have read says that their eyes should open from 7-10 days after birth, but it has been 14 days. Should I be worried? Their parents are both lop eared rabbits if that helps. Thank you for helping!”

Above: These kits all have clear alert eyes. They are around 15-17 days old.

Yes, those eyes should have opened on around day 10, 11 at the latest. I fear that an infection is cooking in both eyes, and is sealing the eyelids closed.

I suggest a vet trip asap so the eyes can be irrigated and antibiotic ointment can be prescribed.

You can open the eyes yourself, clean the eyelids and apply Terramycin Ophthalmic ointment, but this should have been done as early as possible - by day 12 if the eyes had not opened. If you are not able quickly to restore clear eyes to these kits, seek a vet opinion soon.


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Your friends at Raising-Rabbits.com wish you a wonderful February 2015.

Enjoy your rabbits!

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