Surprise rabbit litter - will not keep rabbit babies in box

by Amy
(Frankliin, IN, USA)

My Holland Lop gave birth unexpectedly tonight to 8 kits. My brother had put her in the cage with our male Holland Lop while he was house sitting and told no one. Needless to say we had no idea she was pregnant and were quite shocked to find the kits laying on the floor of her cage.

I put extra bedding in her cage, she had made no attempts at nesting by pulling out her fur or anything to that nature and I keep very little bedding in her cage. I went to Wal-Mart because the farm stores were closed. I bought an aluminum cake pan to attempt to use as a nesting box until I can get something better. I placed a towel on the bottom of it and filled it with bedding. I placed the kits in it and placed it back in the cage about where the kits had been laying.

Timbah dumped the pan so I removed it and made a hole in the bedding and just placed the kits in the middle of the bedding. It is not enough for them to burrow. What should I do?

Also I am not for sure she is feeding them. She lays beside them in her cage, when one wandered over to her she sort of kicked it out of the way and then she laid on top of it. After she moved I put the kit back with its litter mates, but I am not sure if any of this is normal.

I most certainly had not intended on having kits so am trying to cram research as much as I can.

***** Karen Sez *****

A plastic dishpan makes a great temporary nest box, but you'll need to wire it to the cage floor so the doe won't tip it over. Towels make lousy bedding - much better is pine shavings. You can also use straw or hay inside the nest, in conjunction with shavings.

Does only spend 5 - 15 minutes per day with their kits, so "ignoring" the kits is normal. If they have round bellies, then they are getting fed, and all is well.

When the doe is unprepared, as with you and your doe, the doe may reject the litter. I suspect this is why the doe did not pull fur. If the kits are still alive, you can comb and groom the doe yourself, obtaining enough fur to cover the kits. They won't survive without a covering of fur.

It's very difficult to suddenly get thrown into such a surprising situation! Sounds like you've done the very best you could despite being unfamiliar with rabbits. You'll find probably everything you'd need to know about surprise litters and intentional breeding, births, taking care of rabbit kits, and weaning in our e-book, Rabbit Reproduction.

If you're at all concerned that you might encounter another surprise litter, I do recommend obtaining the e-book --

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