Baby kits born unexpectedly two days ago is it ok to check them

by Hayley

Hi I have a doe who has an unexpected litter. They seem fine for what I can see but I haven't handled them yet out of fear she will hurt them. I know they are alive - I can see them moving when I open the hutch. She made a massive nest in the sleeping area of her hutch. I thought that she was having a phantom pregnancy as I thought I had two girls. (Clearly not!)

I haven't been bothering her only to feed her and she is fine with that and isn't stressed out with it. I would also like to clean out the bit where she is weeing. I don't want to stress her out so I'm trying to play it safe while ever so eager to see them. :-)

I had a bad experience with a doe before who killed two litters and I don't want it happening again any info would be great. Like I said they're two days now. When are they out of the danger mark? Thanks

***** Karen Sez *****
Surprise, eh??

Just like the Rabbits Giving Birth page said, you can check the kits when they're born. Just follow the directions.

Your prior doe that destroyed her two litters might not have had enough maternal instincts. The majority of rabbits will not harm their babies unless they feel threatened by some sort of perceived predator. If your doe knows you and likes you, you won't have to worry about the kits. Plus, her enormous nest is an indication of strong maternal instincts.

Lastly, you may actually need to prepare for a second "surprise" litter in 30 more days. There is a chance that the buck re-bred the doe shortly after she kindled these kits, if it was still in with the doe when she gave birth.

Just sayin'...!

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Jun 19, 2014
Day old kits, can I pick them up to put then in a box
by: Anonymous

I had an unexpected litter,the mom did not have a lot of hay to make a nest. I checked on them this morning and the babies are out of the nest and laying on the wire cage. can I get a box and make a new nest? I'm afraid they will keep coming out and get their legs caught.

***** Karen Sez *****
Yes, that would be wise. Kits will fare better in a proper nest.

May 23, 2013
Catch up
by: Hayley

I would like to thank you for all your help I now have 11 healthy week old bunnies that are adorable the kids love them and they are doing great. Their mum is amazing and I've actually had her sister in with them the whole time and she is the best auntie very protective and great with them.

Turns out that it was my friend's rabbit who said it was a girl but wasn't that made her pregnant and that I do have two does.

A good ending turned out that after having a good clean of the whole hutch when they were two weeks old that she had a litter of 14 massive for a first time mum I thought and the fact that 11 survived shows just how good rabbits motherly instincts are thanks again for all your help.

May 03, 2013
Baby kits
by: Hayley

Hi thank you for all your advice it is much appreciated I obviously weren't expecting any litter let alone a big one of 11 which had been 13. If I remove the biggest kits will she be fine when I put them back in after 24 hours and where is the best place to put them. I was thinking of getting them and the doe and doing what you said about giving them an extra chance at the milk but was worried that the stress of it would stop her milk just something I heard could happen.

I will go and get the oats and seeds sound like a fab idea I'm feeding her as much as she wants to be honest as I don't wants her milk flow to dry up and she's been doing so well even the vet was surprised that she managed to feed 10 out of 11 in one go.

I'm a bit weary of disturbing her and the kits too much as although she is fine and has been fine with me touching the kits which i do to check them but she is always checking them puts her head in the sleeping compartment and then goes and lays down is this normal as I heard the does rarely go near where the babies are. Thanks again.

***** Karen Sez *****
Wrap the well-fed babies in a towel, place them all together in a cardboard box, and keep it all in the house where it is warm for as long as they are away from the doe. A litter of kits together will generate enough heat, and bundled in a towel I think they should be warm enough without a warm fur lining.

In the morning you can put them back with the doe. She may or may not hop back into the nest and feed them. (Depends on the doe.)

You've got a very nice doe with strong maternal instincts. All is well.

May 03, 2013
10 days old now but a few not getting fed
by: Hayley

Hi thank you for your comment they are now 10 days old. There were 13 but two died and I am worried about a couple of smaller ones. She has been managing to feed them although the litter is big, but I have noticed the last couple of days a couple getting small and thin.

The vet said it's because her litter is so big for a first time mum and he said that he's certain that I will lose a few although when I checked on her yesterday 10 out of 11 had big full bellies so she is doing fantastic.

I would like your advice on what to do with the two small ones do I leave them and hope for the best? They are in the nest with the others so I don't think there is anything wrong just don't think they can get to her quick enough.

Do I go down the hand rearing route I know it is not successful any help and advice would be appreciated I just want to give them all a chance thanks

***** Karen Sez *****
You're right, you have a keeper of a doe! Hand rearing would be a last resort, due to the typically disappointing success rate with it.

Three other ideas to try first:

--Remove most of the biggest kits for 24 hours. They won't miss the meal, and this will give the smaller ones a great chance to fill up their bellies.

--Give the 1-2 skinniest kits a second chance at the milk bar each day until their weight has improved. This means you'll put the doe in your lap upside down and place the kits (one at a time) on her belly. Give each a 'go' at all 8 teats. It should take only 5-10 minutes for each kit to fill up.

--The ability of making milk can be a factor of nutrition. Your doe is clearly doing quite well on the feed you're giving her, but since the litter is large, it might help to increase the fat content of her feed. (Rabbit milk is 49% fat.) Add a tablespoon or two of whole oats to the doe's feed. The same amount of black oil sunflower seeds (bird seed) will also work (either-or).

With these tricks you might be able to save all the remaining kits without resorting to bottle-feeding! Good luck with it all.

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