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Accidental Rabbit Breeding

History of Highland View Rabbitry
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It happens to the best of pet rabbit owners;
"The kids arranged a play date for the buns, we meant to spay/neuter them when we got enough money, the buns broke through the wire in the cage, we went to clean the cage and we found a nest of babies."
When rabbits breed it only takes literally a minute. Not all rabbits actually conceive when they get together but you should expect that they did. Rabbits are very good mothers but they still need your help to domesticate their babies properally. Here is a timeline and a guideline for raising healthy friendly baby rabbits. But if you have any questions feel free to email me.

Metal Rabbit Nest Box

Shopping List
If you know your bun is pregnant here is a list of items you should stock up on before babies are born.
~ Nest Box, these can be purchased at any farm supply store, they are usually metal or wood. They should be the same size as your female rabbit, if it is too big your female may try to lay in it with the babies and suffocate them.
~ Extra larger dishes or Water Bottle, once those babies start eating they will eat A LOT.
~ Weaning cage, for after babies are seperated from mom.
~ Extra pellets, High Protein Formula, the high protein is to increase milk production in mom and help babies grow strong muscles.
~ Wood shavings or bedding safe for rabbits, and straw/hay for the nest box
If you cannot locate a nest box a plastic container can be used, keep in mind that nest boxes are designed to keep kits warm and the nest box clean, do not use cardboard as it can promote too much bacteria growth.

Two Rabbits Breeding

All right, so you were pretty sure your boy and girl rabbits mated when they got together, but what should you do? If the buns were not previously living apart, seperated them as your female rabbit can still get pregnant again while she is pregnant with a different litter. Think one litter will be hard, try having a litter born and then two weeks later another litter born 0_0. Write down the date you think the buns mated on a calendar, and then count 28 days later this is when your female rabbit will start make a nest and possibly give birth, a rabbits gestation period is 28-32 days, but is a good idea to leave the nest box in for 35 days.

Doe Making Nest

What to expect During the Gestation Period:
Your female bun will be undergoing a lot of hormone changes so don't be surprised if her personality completely changes! At about 11-14 days your female can be taken to the vet to be palpated, or the vet will feel for fetuses or do an ultrasound. If your bun has a pseudopregnancy, or a false pregnancy, she will start making a nest at 14 days, and even start producing milk and putting on weight. Pseudopregnancies are very common in rabbits. Around 28 days you will probably start to notice another personality change in your rabbit, or even mammory gland development. Some females will wait last minute to make the nest, but many will start at around 28 days. You should put the nest box in when you start to see her make a nest, or at the 28th day if you know when she was bred. During this month your female rabbit should have unlimited pellets and water.

Newborn Litter in Nest

Some rabbit owners are fortunate enough to witness the rabbit kindling (giving birth). Some tips if you are there to see it
~ Make sure that mama is in a quiet location, too many disturbances could make her scared and she may kill the kits.
~ Watch and make sure she is not having problems pushing babies out, she could have a stuck kit and that requires immediate vet attention!
~ Maker sure she is giving birth to the babies in the nest box, is she has them on the floor of the cage, wait until she cleans them up and put them in the nest box, first time moms confuse easily and sometimes get their instincts mixed up.
~ For the most part keep away from mom, watch from a quiet distance, if you have to step in keep in mind that this is a very private event for buns and you may intimidate her or scare her enough that she kills the kits. If you have to put the kits in the nest box wait until she cleans them off and moves on to giving birth to the next kit, do not interrupt her cleaning.
~ Watch mom after birth, if she seems overally exhausted ( it normal for them to be very tired) or if she keeps bleeding take her to the vet ASAP. You Know there may be a problem if she doesn't clean herself off. It is natural instinct for them to clean themselves and the area so they do not attract predators.
~ Mom may go in right away to feed babies and arrange nest better or not, totally depends on the mom.
~ Some rabbit will be in labor for 10 minutes, or up to 2 days, if you think she has been in labor to long exam the vaginal area, can you see a kit coming, does it look like its stuck? Keep the vet on speed dial just to stay safe.

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Congradulations!!! You are now the proud new owner of baby bunnies, if you haven't noticed yet I will give you a reality check :P You have gone from two rabbits to probably 6 or 8 or more rabbits. :) Never fear, now is the time to start finding owners for these babies, I don't mean actually finding new homes, but talk to friends or neighbors, or people you trust that will give these rabbits a good home. Okay now the baby timeline
Day 1:
Check newborns over, make sure there are no dead ones, or ones that mom accidently cut while cleaning. If you have not already done so, cut mom's nails as short as possible to prevent her from cutting babies while getting in and out of the nest box. As you may of noticed baby rabbits or kits are born without fur, they cannot hear, see, or even regulate their own body temperature. Make sure they are in a warm area
Day 2:
Mom will only feed babies once or twice a day so you may see her. At first you may think she is not feeding them but if she has not fed them by the second day they will either be dead, or pretty darn close, so don't worry :)
Handle babies everyday (wash hands first), hold them on their back, make sure their bellies are round and full.
Day 3:
Babies can now regulate body temperature but still make sure they are warm and clean.
Day 14:
The kits have really started developing by this age, they have a lot of fur growth and their eyes are starting to open. If their eyes are not open by day 20, gently pry them open, make sure they do not become overly crusty or sore, this is a sign of infection. You can also clean the nest box out, if possible save any clean fur, if you can't that is okay too.
Day 20:
Kits will start exploring outside the nest box at this time, make sure they stay together or get in the nest box at night so they don't get too cold. I will make little ramps of straw in front of the nest box so they can climb back in. When they are out they may start sampling mama's pellets and water, this is perfectly fine and it is good as it starts to wean them on to pellets. if they start climbing in the water bowl use a water bottle instead.
After Day 20:
Clean the nest box once a week, if they do not sleep in the best box, or around week 5 I will remove the nest box because it just becomes a place where the pee and poop, which causes bacteria growth.
Week 8-10:
Kits are ready to be weaned, if you have some runts in the litter it helps to leave them with mom a little longer, but eventually mom will get tired of the kits and will want them out. The kits can still stay together but they should not go to their new homes just yet! Mom should go to the vet for a check up, especially to check for mummified kits still inside of her, or to make sure she isn't developing mastitis (infection of the mammory glands)
Check with your vet to see when she can safetly by spayed!
3 Months:
The females and males should be seperated from eachother,(females and males can sometimes become sexually mature at this time!)  sometimes you may even have to seperate all the males from eachother! They can also start going to their new homes
4 months:
All the remaining rabbits should be seperated from eachother as they will start becoming sexually mature!
If you can't sex the kits at three months have the vet do it! you need to know the correct sex of the rabbits or you will have even more babies.

Baby sampling pellets

Baby rabbits have very unstable digestive systems, do not let babies eat any fruits, vegies, or other bunny treats until they are 4 months old, or they could get sick!

if you notice any runts in the litter, try flipping mom on her back and letting the runt drinking from her twice a day. I hate to give this warning but survival rates among runts is not high, that is natures way of weaning out rabbits that are not genetically strong, but it can be done!

Holding a young rabbit

Yes I know rabbit are already domesticated but there are ways you can make your kits even better pet rabbits!
~Handle kits everyday, hold them on their back, and gently turn them around, this gets them used to being handled.
~ Pet them as often as you can try bribing them to the door by offering old fashion quaker oats (not the quick cook oatmeal) this teaches them that coming to the door is a good thing
~ Clip their nails while they are young, and if you can't clip them, just file them, this gets them comfortable with the idea of having their nails clipped. Do not hit the vein in the nail (or the quick) this can permantly traumatize them, in other words, just clip off the very tip.
~ Start brushing them, even at 2 weeks, with a soft bristle brush, it should be soft enough that when you brush it on your arm is does not scratch or hurt you. This gets them used to the idea of being brushed.
~ You can even start litter training them as soon as they start leaving the nest box, often times is mom is litter trained babies will see her use it and automatically pick it up! very convienent for you!
~ If you want they can also start leash training (with a harness halter and a lead) at three months. Many rabbit will never become comortable with the idea of walking on a leash.
Baby rabbits learn a lot from mom and will pick up a lot of habits from her, so if mom is cage aggressive babies will be that way too. So if mom is aggressive or runs from the door, make sure you are using the treats to teach babies that coming to the door is good!

This is really just the basics to raising baby rabbits! If you have any questions feel free to email me!


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