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!