Entire Litter Gone! Help!

My Holland Lop gave birth a week ago.

Everything was fine, kits were fed and healthy looking, and then they vanished.

The four kits all disappeared overnight.

There is no trace of them at all. No blood, parts, cage tampering.

They were in a 5" tall front 7" tall back nest box. Cage holes are 1" by 2" with a 3 1/2" solid guard around all four sides of bottom. Bottom wires 1/2 by 1".

I've already looked all around the floor, in pans, around cages. No kits anywhere.

What could've happened? The things I suspect are her and a snake vs any escaping/ rats/ etc. For a minute I even thought maybe a neighbor's kid entered the shed and messed with the babies.

How likely is it that she ate four healthy one week old kits vs. a snake sneaking in eating all four babies then getting back through the 1" by 2" wire? Without her even attacking the snake even?

No previous litters have ever fallen out of that cage. No snake accidents have ever occurred before. No incidents of people breaking in as well.

She is a first time mother but she still seems to be looking for the kits. I feel really bad for her but at the same time I suspect she had something to do with it.

***** Karen Sez *****
Ugh, sorry to hear about this mystery! Must be traumatic to suddenly discover such a mass disappearance.

I highly doubt the doe is the culprit. She might brutalize her newborns due to a fright at birth, but not a week later, when she's taking care of the kits very well. Even if she did eat them, you would have seen signs - blood, pieces, etc. If there weren't any scary things like explosions, fireworks, or other frights on the night of the crime, you can lay your suspicions against the doe to rest.

If it were a snake, I'd think the slithery thing would take one and leave, returning at a later date for one more, etc.

Escapees - you have guards around all four sides. Gotta say this option probably did not happen.

Neighbor kids? Well, you'll have to be the judge of that. Have you asked around the neighborhood? Do the neighbors have pet snakes? Do they realize that 1-week-old kits don't typically survive without the mom?

Rats, on the other hand, would be a possibility. Again, I'd think they would take one, unless the rat brought all its buddies.

Have you seen rat droppings in feeders? This might help confirm the presence of rats, or maybe you already know they're around.

What to Do

Sounds like the cage and nest-box set up is fairly optimal, nothing to change there. So:

1) Put out a trail cam or two and see what you can capture digitally. This might help put you on the right track. (Any other litters in nest boxes at the moment?)

2) Construct one or more homemade rat traps - bait suspended over barrels of water, which if the rat falls in, will drown it. You can probably find plans through an internet search.

3) I've heard of a non-toxic rat poison, explore that option. (I would avoid poison, if there is a chance a pet could eat the sick or dead rat and itself become poisoned.)

4) Get a barn cat or three. They will help to eliminate the rat population in the area.

Good luck with everything!

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Jun 22, 2016
Vanishing baby rabbits
by: Tammy

Just reading comments; I have had a few mothers eat their babies, the last one being a few days ago. 2 weeks ago a first-time doe had a litter of 4. Then right in front of me while they were alive she bit the feet of one kit while still alive. She ate 3 of the 4, leaving 1 and looked after it for 2 weeks. On 14th day I went out and she had eaten everything except the whole intact fur which I can only assume as being a lot older she could not eat that amount of fur so I think it was mum rabbit as they leave nothing, just a mystery if not witnessed, I've also had one doe who had a few fab litters. All of a sudden she started eating the last few which I took as no more breeding and rehomed her as a pet. I'm going to try my first time mum again; if it happens a second time I will rehome her and tell them not to breed, hope her next litter is fine.

***** Karen Sez *****
Wow, thanks for weighing in, Tammy. Pretty gross, but it happens on occasion. This would be the first time I've heard of a doe cannibalize a kit older than a few days.

Gotta say, that sort of behavior would be tolerated for about one nano-second in my barn. Yes, give your first-time doe a second chance if you must, but let me ask: is she the offspring of a doe that began to eat her last litters? If so, how do you think her own female offspring will begin to behave once they start kindling their own litters?

You would be wise to start culling hard the cannibalistic blood lines, and second, evaluate your animals' nutritional status, looking for reasons why the doe would become unable to support her babies. (Old feed? Low protein content? Etc.)

Feb 19, 2016
by: Fishermanroly

I once had a corn snake eat four newborn bunnies. I found it in the cage later that day hidden behind a feed bucket, cut him in half and there were the babies.

Sep 30, 2015
Extra info
by: OP

Hi, thank you for responding to my post.
If it was rats wouldn't they also leave traces like blood as well?

I forgot to add that the cage is stacking and was the second level. There is a side shelf but nothing was knocked over. No droppings there either. Also if it was a stranger why didn't they steal the hotot kits on the upper level or any of the supplies or decor in the shed.
(Also yes there was a litter of hotots in a nest box on the third tier of the stacking cages.)

I would imagine from a kid's perspective that they would steal only their favorite as well not all four. Or maybe a cute rabbit decoration with them. There's even a stool in front of the stacking cages to reach the top nest....But the only thing was the four kits missing.

Also the cage door latch was shut. Why would someone who wanted to steal take only four kits and considerately reshut the cage?

Absolutely no traces of blood in the nest which was filled with white fur and white fluff bedding.

I still cant imagine what happened... I never expected this. :(

And yes I agree that a snake would've eaten only one or a couple and the mother would probably have scared it away before all four were eaten...

At this point the only thing I've ruled out is escape. There's just no way with the setup that all four climbed the guards and marched out of the shed single file.

I felt the mother's stomach and it didn't feel full or anything and she's quite active and still looking around for the nest box. It's really sad to watch.

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