Rabbit Rhythms May 2020:
Quarantine is hard, but things such as cute fuzzy bunnies can always make it better! Speaking of fuzzy, our featured breed this month is the American Fuzzy Lop. This adorable bunny is just the right mix of fluffy and cute! This breed is so unique in its breeding. Read about how it got the way it is.
Additionally, bunnies are popping out kits all over the place during this season. Knowing how to care for and feed a pregnant doe is essential for the health of newborn kits. We have a few tips for feeding your pregnant doe so that her kits get the most optimal start in life.
Plus, good nutrition additionally plays an important role in successfully raising your baby bunnies to weaning ages. We'll tell you a story about a rabbit owner who learned this the hard way.
Rabbits in the News: The Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease is NOT gone! In fact, it just hit New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, and will no doubt spread elsewhere. Learn the latest news on RVHD and what you can do to help prevent this disease from spreading to your precious bunnies.
The American Fuzzy Lop was originally bred down from Holland Lops. Holland Lops used to come in only solid colors until breeders began to breed them with English Spots in order to introduce a broken pattern into their gene pool. The unintended result of this was their classic rollback fur was lost in the process.
Breeders began to breed the new Hollands with French Angoras in order to gain the lost trait back again. In addition to the rollback coat, the wool gene was also inherited. Holland Lops with the wool gene were reproduced in litters.
Patty Greene-Karle began breeding these new fuzzy Lops and showed them in 1985 to the Houston, Texas ARBA Convention. It later became an official breed in 1989.
Characteristics and Temperament
The American Fuzzy Lop certainly takes after its name as it is known for its soft, fuzzy coat and famous lop ears. It is dwarf-sized, has very rounded hindquarters and a broad chest. Their wool can be spun into yarn, but does not produce much because their surface area is smaller than that of an Angora.
Their coat is more coarse, minimizing the amount of matting and tangling. However, while grooming them, be sure to cover the tail area as this area may have more matting from sitting down. They come in a wide variety of colors and have a very playful, active, and affectionate personality. These characteristics make them great with kids, and an amazing family pet.
Taking care of a doe is one thing, but taking care of a pregnant doe is something else. A common question that arises is what do you feed a doe?
Tips for feeding a Pregnant doe:
For more on how to care for a pregnant doe: Check out pages 150-162 in The Rabbit Raising Problem Solver.
Beth, from Florida, wrote to us about two of her 4-week-old bunnies that mysteriously died:
"Help!! Our doe had a litter of 6 babies on Easter Sunday.
"I had previously read all of your information on rabbit diarrhea so we kept mom and babies on only Timothy Hay with some organic greens. They have had no pellets or sweets. The first baby was found dead Sunday morning, at 4 weeks old. I had purchased benebac but not given it as there was no sign of illness. We gave benebac to mom and the 5 living babies on Sunday. Two days later another baby died. It was alive that morning.
"I gave a second round of benebac and have moved mom and babies indoors and using new water and food containers. We do keep the cages very clean and change the "litter boxes" every other day. My 4 little girls are so upset! What else can we do to prevent any more from dying? We live in Florida and it has just gotten hot, I did have a fan on the cage. There has been no signs of diarrhea that I can tell."
***** Karen Sez *****
Oh Beth, did our pages about diarrhea ever say don't feed pellets to a pregnant or lactating doe? Have you read anywhere on Raising-Rabbits that pellets are not good to feed? What the diarrhea page does say is that sweet, high carb treats, and a diet low in fiber can cause life-threatening problems.
Feeding only timothy hay and organic greens is basically a starvation ration for both your doe and her babies! There is not enough protein to sustain life over the long term in just grass hays with a bit of greens. I strongly advocate for feeding a balanced commercial pelleted ration to your rabbits, and for pregnant and lactating does adding a little bit of black oil sunflower seeds or whole oats to the daily feed to help the doe produce milk and feed the babies.
I hope you and your girls will try again to breed your rabbit, and this time, don't be afraid to feed your doe her pellets! Just provide a handful of hay every day and don't feed any sweet treats, and everything should work out great. Check our rabbit nutrition page. That should help you understand the basic nutritional needs of productive adult rabbits.
There are also many answers to be found in Rabbit Raising Problem Solver.
And yes, you can feed rabbits without pellets. This requires research in order to understand the nutritional needs of your rabbits, and then time and preparation in order to provide the necessary nutrition to your rabbits. The vast majority of us appreciate the convenience of a commercial pellet, but if you do your own research, you can very successfully feed an all-natural ration without pellets. Our e-book on feeding rabbits is a great place to start that research.
Next month, we'll discuss first-time rabbit moms, who have a frightful reputation of always losing their first litters.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease is far from contained, and has just hit New Mexico. This disease is NOT transmittable to humans and NOT related to COVID-19. Wildlife managers in New Mexico reported recent deaths in both domestic and wild rabbit populations. This disease used to only be found in domestic and feral rabbits but recently made the jump to wild rabbits. Dead carcasses were picked up and tested positive for the virus. The New Mexico Fish and Game department request that any large, wild populations of rabbits should be reported.
Warning to commercial breeders!
This disease is highly contagious to rabbits and can wipe out your entire enterprise. Humans can also be vectors of transmission.
If you raise rabbits and live anywhere near an active outbreak of RHD (NM, TX, AZ, WA, for now), you will need to practice exquisite quarantine measures, and avoid contact with any dead rabbit carcasses if you suspect RVHD.
Introducing Fly Predators: an all-natural, biological fly control solution that does not involve pesticides or poison!
What is a fly predator, and what do they do?
A fly predator is a small, nocturnal parasite that feeds on fly larva. They do not affect humans or animals and control the fly population with little to no effort! It takes about a month for the current fly population to die off, but once they do, you will notice a significant decrease in flies around your barn with no harm to you, or your animals!
Now is when rabbit breeders in the Northern Hemisphere should be introducing fly predators into our rabbitries. Click here for more information of fly predators!
Maybe your friends would too...
Your friends at Raising-Rabbits.com wish you a wonderful May 2020.
Enjoy your rabbits!