Can we house two does together with their two litters?

by Kylie
(Alberta,Canada)

I have three Flemish Giants. My one Doe had a beautiful litter of Four and was a wonderful mother. She housed them in a nice warm place during the winter and they are now three weeks old or more jumping around, eating and playing. My 2nd female gave birth 2 weeks after her to a litter of 6.


I count all my litters for ill or dead kits. The first two days were fine. The first litter, the 3 week old ones I had to move from their nesting box (it was a small hole in the wall the mother had them in so I moved them out). They now live with the 2nd mother and the buck. He is docile and really doesn't care about them.

The other mother seemed fine with them too, or so I thought.

We have a hutch and an open run for the rabbits. The hutch is a two room hotel, one for each doe. The 2nd mother birthed her litter in the hutch but the other babies thought it was OKAY to lay with the new litter (who are about 8-10 days old by the time I moved the older ones into the main rabbit area).

I tried moving them numerous times. They'd either lay beside the babies or in the nest with them. I checked on them EVERYDAY, counting and making sure all were round and healthy. They all seemed fine 4 days into it all. I went out yesterday and found one dead. Starved, bottom of the litter kit. So I removed him. Today I went out and I always check, and the whole litter is GONE! All of them. I checked around to see blood, or anything like that. As a child I had a doe kill her litter but when SHE did it there were body parts and blood everywhere. THERE is not anything anywhere AND one of the OLD kits from the first mother is gone too, he was the runty one. So I'm left with three healthy kits.

Is having the two mothers raising their babies together a bad idea? I think the 2nd mother is kind of a dope. She was trying to push the straw back into her home after I tried searching for her litter. But no luck. Would the first mom kill the 2nd mom's litter because they were perhaps in HER space? Any advice would be great. We plan on having more litters soon so I'd like to get it all sorted out so it doesn't happen again. Thank you.

***** Karen Sez *****
So sorry! That sure is a mysterious turn of events. They can't vanish into thin air...did you happen to find any holes in the hutch wood or wire where the kits could have escaped? It would have to be big enough for the tiniest guys to fit through, but too small for the biggest of the older kits. Is there a chance a predator got to them? Doesn't actually sound like it, but hey, we're trying to solve a mystery.

If you follow the escape theory, you might still find the kits alive within 3 days, and at least some of them together in some hidey hole within a 30 foot radius. Yeah, the little buggers can travel quite a ways. And while you're searching, you might look for other signs, like for rats or rat droppings, or raccoons, or other predators. Would your own dogs have a taste for young bunnies?

On the other hand, before the disappearance one of the kits starved to death. This is a clue that perhaps its dam was stressed and not producing enough milk. I somehow doubt that either doe actually harmed the kits - they were familiar with each other prior to being put together with their kits, right? And they did fairly well together for a while....

I suggest that next time you give each doe her own quarters. Check out http://www.raising-rabbits.com/rabbit-cage.html for all-wire cage and PVC hutch frame combos. You're more likely with an all-wire cage to not lose kits to predators or escapes. It's what I would do.

Hope you can figure everything out. Best of luck, and enjoy your rabbits.

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