How to convince your dad to keep 3 three-week-old baby bunnies

by Emma
(Owattona Minnesota)

Hi, my female Holland lop gave birth three weeks ago to six. Her first litter died (four kits found dead in morning) but this time she gave birth to six and three survived. We just neutered the male today (female and male are separated and male gets along with kits).

My mom and I want to keep them but my dad DOES NOT. I'm hoping (like mom) that if dad holds them enough he will fall in love with them but he's only softened up a teensy bit. At 8 weeks (if no luck) we will sell them. I will take all info and comments.

Also the littlest has head tilt, it is not going away but with watered down medication and a pinch of critical care in warmed cows milk twice a day has his/her cute little personality back, though a few stumbles happen here and there, today is his/her last day of medication and critical care. Will also take comments/ info on that subject. The other two are healthy, vet did do check up on them,it costed only 15 dollars. At one point the runt almost died.

***** Karen Sez *****

Hi Emma, I'm glad you wrote. I see two big problems, and I wonder what you will think about my opinions/answers, which I'll share since you asked... :-)

First: dad doesn't want to keep the kits, but you do. I understand that people have preferences - some people like animals and others don't. In this case, dad has permitted you a doe and a buck. You were able to experience two litters (because the first died). The buck is now neutered, but you get to keep him. These are all wonderful things!

I know the little bunnies are terribly cute at this age, but once they grow up, then what would you do with them, supposing dad was willing to say yes? Would they serve the family in some way? Pets? You have two pets already, and I'm sure you really like them.

In a family situation, the moms and the dads typically have 20 or even 30 years worth of experience that their children do not have. Additionally, someone in the family has to be the one who makes the final decisions after weighing all the options. Your dad is this person in your family. I hope you can honor him and his role as dad. Even if you're disappointed right now, I think it will work out for the best in the long run (even if he doesn't "soften"). And maybe down the line he'll see the interests that are developing in your life and honor you by supporting those interests.

Second: The other problem is that the little runt might be sicker than you realize. He has either pasteurellosis, or possibly more likely has a parasitic infection called encephalitoonosis (inflammation of the brain due to the parasite Encephalitozoon cuniculi, or EC for short). Either way, it's not good. Of course, there is a chance the head tilt will clear up if the bunny's immune system can eliminate the parasite (or bacteria). It takes a good 4-5 months for the infectious stage of EC to pass.

Sometimes the symptoms clear up, but sometimes the head tilt remains indefinitely. There's also the chance that the rabbit will end up dying.

And you still have to ask: where did the problem come from? Both Pasteurellosis and EC are very contagious. Pasteurellosis is very difficult to cure. Are one or both of the adult rabbits asymptomatic carriers of one infection or the other? (The incidence of both EC and pasteurellosis is quite high amongst pet rabbits.)

If the other two kits are fine, then the good news is that their immune systems are strong. But they could also possibly begin to get sick in a few weeks or months.

Depending on whether the little runt can get better, I'd hesitate to sell it as a pet. It would be better to euthanize it so any new owners don't get saddled with big vet bills or get hard feelings because you sold them a sick rabbit that ended up dying. And as to the other two bunnies, the prospective new pet owners should know the history of the litter. It's the right thing to do.

God bless you, and good luck with everything.

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