Our kits are all dead

by Rebekah
(Bridgewater, MA)

We tried breeding our 2 rabbits and we expected the kits today and we found all 7 of them - DEAD! Momma pulled out some fur yesterday and put it in the corner where she was/did kindle them but when we found them this morning, 2 kits had been dragged out of the nest and the other 5 were together but cold and lifeless. Any idea why? I even put in a small animal heating pad as we live in MA and it is still very cold at night.


***** Karen Sez *****
Sure is a disappointment to find the whole litter dead. Sorry. Wish I could tell from over hear what happened.

--I wonder if the heating pad had something to do with it...was it too hot or did the doe dislike it?

--Did the kits freeze to death due to not enough fur or straw, despite the heating pad?

--Did a predator disrupt the doe's mothering instincts?

Hard to tell, without more info. We hope you'll try again - feel free to rebreed the doe within a couple days.

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Apr 17, 2014
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First time mom chewed up 2 babies
by: Anonymous

Thank you so much for your answer it made a lot of sence. Unfortunately, I did not receive it in time. I noticed the next day bellies were fat, I figured "YES! She's taking care of them." Then we got a significant drop in temperature and overnight 2 inches of snow. The next morning I run out to check on them and one was alone in a corner froze to death with a big fat belly. I don't have removable nest boxes, my does are in outdoor wooden hutches, half screen floor/half enclosed cubby hole type box. The next day the other two froze as well :'(

I know now it was definitely my fault because I originally had the momma in a cage built for our covered deck where we used to live. It was all wood except for 2 little screen doors on the front. The roof leaked and I had something over it until my husband could get some roofing shingles. Well I got impatient and moved her to the cage she's in now a week b4 she was due. She had never experienced the screen floor and every time I checked on her she would be in the box over the babies. In my stumper I forgot to put a little resting board on the screen floor for her. Sure that may not have helped much especially with there being far too many factors going on with weather, moving, housing, first time mom, huge litter, it was inevitable surviving kits were not in her favor. Lesson learned! I will take your advice next time, thank you :)

Apr 11, 2014
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First time mom chewed up 2 babies
by: Anonymous

My MR had her first litter yesterday and I found one chewed up out of the nest. I removed it, the poor thing was still alive! I had to cull it, that was horrid! We had a little t-storm last night and I check her, there's another one chewed up, gruesome sight. There are three left very much alive, but looks like she destroyed her well-built nest, they were lying uncovered in the middle of the box so I built them a nest, could not find much fur (would she eat that too?)but covered them up the best I could. Should I give her a chance? I have another doe (who is an excellent mother)due in a week and a half, can I put the remaining kits in her box?

***** Karen Sez *****
I'm concerned that your doe is no longer attached to her litter. Perhaps the thunderstorm did it, possibly. It might be safest at this point to remove the whole nest box with the three kits from the doe, and to return it to her twice a day so she can nurse her babies.

Waiting till your other doe delivers is too far down the road, I think. The kits will be either dead or too big for mixing with the newborn litter.

Hopefully the second time around the doe will be more capable. Good luck!


Nov 09, 2012
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PLEASE HELP ALL KITS STILLBORN
by: Anonymous

My doe had given birth to three litters within the last few months, none survived. Why is that? All are born still born. Do we need to have her fixed? Please help.

Mar 07, 2012
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Thanks Karen
by: Rebekah

Karen, Thanks for your comments. It does help. Sadly this was the 3rd time the same thing has happened with this doe. Our other doe did just fine having a kindle, but she only had 1 kit. It is 4 weeks old today and doing great. I think we are going to breed that doe again and hopefully she will have more kits this time. I hope that giving the first doe a break and letting her learn from the second doe things might improve - and waiting for warmer weather might be helpful too! Any other suggestions??

***** Karen Sez *****
Ummm, yeah, I do have one other suggestion... Three strikes and yer out applies to rabbit breeding as well as to baseball. In my barn, your doe would take a short trip to the stew pot, because it has shown you that it doesn't have enough maternal instinct. (A genetic problem.)

Suppose in the off chance that a litter of hers survived. The female offspring would end up giving you the same headaches - eat your feed but fail to raise any litters.

But, sure. Be nice and give her one more chance, now that it's warming up. See if she'll learn from the other doe. And if you do, would you mind dropping us another note and letting us know how it goes??

Thanks... :-)

Mar 06, 2012
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Dead kits
by: Rebekah

The kits were frozen and there wasn't much fur. We thought we had until Thursday til they would be born. There was plenty of clean, fresh hay and the heating pad is made for small animals like rabbits so hopefully it wasn't that. She less than 1 year old do maybe her youth could be a factor??

***** Karen Sez *****
No, rabbits are adult around 6 months old. Some breeds and strains of rabbits seem to have more trouble than others with their first litters, if the maternal instincts aren't ultra-strong.

Hopefully a second try will help everything come together for the doe, and she'll figure it all out. Good luck!

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