My female rabbit has disappeared down a burrow
We have two female rabbits. Three days ago one of the rabbits dug a burrow and although she initially came up for food and company she now hasn't been seen for two days. The second rabbit has not gone down the hole. I am wondering if this second rabbit is a he and if they are having babies.
If this is the case how do I get my rabbit and her babies out of the burrow? How is she feeding herself? And will she bring babies up if she has any?***** Karen Sez *****
I suspect your suspicions are suspiciously correct! For confirmation, you could grab the rabbit not in the burrow, flip it over and inspect its equipment. By this age, you should have no trouble recognizing its gender. Check out http://www.raising-rabbits.com/sexing-rabbits.html
If it's a girl, then the rabbit in the burrow is in the throes of a false pregnancy, which feels every bit as real to her as a real one. But once she builds her nest, her hormones will relent, she'll rejoin your family, and you can fill in the hole.
If it's a boy...fun fun! The doe's instincts are apparently very healthy - you can let her take care of everything. She knows what she is doing instinctively. I would actually expect the doe to come out of the burrow and stay out of it every day, going back once or twice to feed the kits. In this manner you can let nature take its course and not try to dig up the burrow and pull the kits out.
(As an aside, there IS the chance the doe has a burrow AND a resting den underground, in which case she may only surface in the evenings so she can forage.)
If she comes out and acts as if nothing is going on, AND if the second rabbit is a buck, don't just lock her up in a cage and forget about the burrow. You will want to ensure she has opportunity every day to feed her babies. See her go down there, stay there for, say, 10 minutes, and then come back up. You could even check her tummy for signs of recent suckling.
The doe will feed herself by eating grass, bushes and other forages in your garden. Until she decides she can rejoin your family, you could put out dishes of rabbit pellets and water near the burrow.
The babies will start poking their heads out of the burrow once they are 2, or 2 1/2 weeks old. By 3 weeks old, the kits will probably be cavorting around the garden, and you can then catch them all and put them in the doe's cage. (Will you need a second, bigger, cage??)
I hope you enjoy the whole process! It can be very rewarding to experience nature and new life evolve.
One last note: It might be tempting to allow your doe to live permanently in your garden in her burrow. But don't forget:
Rabbit society is matriarchal, and it is the does that do the digging. If that doe decides she needs to remodel, nothing stops her from tunneling for 60, 100, 150 feet. Domestic rabbits are absolutely known to dig for 'miles.' The fact that you are her BFF does not
trump the rabbit-y instincts ingrained in her DNA. Just sayin'...!