My rabbit had four kits, all four were peanuts and stillborn. Is this unusual?

by Tori



Last year I bought three purebred Netherland Dwarf bunnies. Two of the bunnies were does from the same litter. The buck was not related from another breeder. I bought a large wooden hutch for the buck, and that's his by himself. I custom built a two story hutch for the girls, so they can live together as they also have.

I waited till all three bunnies were mature enough to breed. December 17th I bred the buck (Cocoa) with one doe (Spunky). About five before Spunky was scheduled to give birth, I removed her from the hutch. I put her in a smaller cage in the house so I could keep close watch on her during her time of kindling which was January 17th. She did great for a first timer. She gave birth to only one healthy kit, which is now 4 weeks old.

On January 18th I decided to breed Peaches (Peaches is Spunky's sister), and Cocoa. Last night (around 11pm) I notice Peaches started building her nest with hay and her fur. I figured she would give birth soon, so I left her alone and went to bed. This morning around 6am I got up to check on Peaches. I first found two dead kits on the bottom floor of the hutch. I then checked the kindling box, where last night she was making her nest. I found an additional two more dead kits. Peaches was on the bottom level of the hutch, and backed up into a corner. She looked completely frightened. I left her alone and started removing all four of the dead kits.

After removing the kits, I was curious to why all four were dead, so I examined all four kits. Comparing Peaches' four dead kits to when Spunky's had her one kit, I could tell there was an extreme size difference. I then realized, the four dead kits were all peanuts. Their ears at the far back of their heads and looked to be as the ears were glued down to the head. The hind legs of these kits were extremely small, no where near the width of their shoulders. I do know peanuts do eventually end up dying after living a few days or so. I believe all for kits were stillborn. Also, upon examining their bodies, I did not notice any signs of that mother killed any of the babies. There were no missing body parts or anything.

Peaches and Spunky have always been together since birth. As stated above I removed Spunky about 5 days before she had her baby. They have been separated since that time. So that has been a little over a month. With that being said, I notice Peaches was not eating much during her pregnancy. I also noticed she was being active, and was sitting in one spot of the hutch for practically a month. I assumed that was because of the winter season.

Tonight I'm thinking maybe she was not eating allot because she was depressed because she had been away from Spunky for month. Which that month was the month Peaches was pregnant.

About 4 hours after removing the dead kits, I put Spunky back in with Peaches. Peaches immediately perked up and seemed to be not frightened anymore. Around noon time Peaches was eating with Spunky. Everything seems fine now.

So with all of this, I have many questions!
1. Has this ever happened before where a rabbits first litter is all peanuts?
2. Could this have been caused by Peaches not eating during the pregnancy?
3. If get Peaches to gain her weight back, and breed her again, could this happen again?
4. If I do breed Peaches again, how long should I wait to do so?

I know this is lengthy but I'm just so curious to why this happened! Thank you in advance for your time with this.

***** Karen Sez *****
Very interesting. Thanks for posting. "Why did this happen?" It was a quirk of nature, a statistical anomaly.

1) An entire litter of four peanuts would be very rare, but not unheard-of nor impossible. Statistically, you'd only expect 1/4 peanuts. You can now know for sure that Peaches and Cocoa are true dwarfs - carriers of the dwarf gene.

2) Double dwarfism (peanuts) is genetic, and not caused by eating habits.

3) A rebreeding of Peaches and Cocoa would *most likely* yield some normal-sized kits, maybe an entire litter of true dwarfs (heheh, just as unlikely as the litter of peanuts).

4) Peaches can be rebred any time, especially if her weight normalizes. You can always supplement her pellets with a 1/2 tsp of whole oats or a pinch of black oil sunflower seeds.

Now that you know your two does do very well together, I'd be interested to see how they handle each other's pregnancies when left in the same space. As long as the cage is big enough (sounds like it is), give it a whirl!

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Feb 20, 2012
Thank you!
by: Tori

Thank you so much Karen! I'm definitely going to rebreed her, after she puts on a few ounces! lol

I was really surprised Saturday morning when I discovered she had all peanuts. I'm sure the next litter will be fine ;) Will post pictures!

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