Newborn Babies

Help Support RabbitsOnline:

RebeccaJC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
69
Reaction score
5
Location
NULL
Hi everyone. I am new to this forum and seeking advice. Its been nearly four weeks now since I purchased my beautiful mini lop bunny. She's 6 months old and 4-5 days ago (unsure on exact day as you couldn't tell there were babies as they were buried underneath hay and mums fur - we thought she was having a phantom pregnancy, I only found out when I was cleaning her hutch out and I know they were born 4-5 days ago as she hadn't been in her indoor run for 2 days i left her in her hutch for two days peacefully so could have been born on either day) anyways.. yes I noticed the babies.. this is her first litter (I am presuming as she's so young) I haven't seen nor checked the babies yet as there is so much conflicting advice on the internet. I keep worrying about the babies as I want them to thrive. I know they are still alive due to all the movement, whenever I open the hutch in the mornings they are moving quite a lot and you can see the hay moving up and down. Sometimes they are quieter than usual but there's always slight movement. I have been checking on mum three times per day making sure her water is topped up and making sure she has plenty of food. She's eating kale and lots of pellets. She seems to be eating a lot at the moment.. and drinking a lot through the night too. Whenever I open the hutch Mum seems to be a bit protective, not with me though, she is fine with me and my partner but will go past us bopping her head over the hutch in all areas as if she is checking for danger beyond us and on the internet it also says Mum won't lay with her babies, but i have caught her a couple of times lain next to her babies and she is going to the toilet sometimes not far from them so i know she's keeping an eye on them. And she also once ran straight to her nest when I opened the hutch so she seems to be protective over them. I give her some love, strokes and then I leave her in peace. She is in the dining room and with how deep their nest is and all of Mum's fur I think babies are warm enough. I also noticed in the mornings there will be a hole in the nest and by night Mum has re-covered the holes. I really hope these are all good signs and its a good sign babies are still showing signs of movement. I can't help worrying due to all the horror stories on the net! I want her babies to thrive and stay well. We won't be able to keep them all but I am hoping to keep one if there are any girls and will most definitely not be giving them away to homes I didn't feel secure with! I want them to go onto have healthy and happy lives. I am posting to ask if I am doing the right thing? A lot of people are telling me to leave well alone which I have and I am also glad I left her in her hutch for 2 days before she gave birth .. but then some people are saying to check on the babies.. but I don't want to disturb them and stress Mum out. I really don't want to lose her babies. So am i doing the right thing? And at what age are babies beginning to slowly come out of the danger zone? I am secretly hoping this is their 5th day of life because it means we're one step closer to health and vitality! Thanks for listening.
 
Last edited:

Imbrium

Jennifer
Joined
Aug 13, 2012
Messages
6,160
Reaction score
1,125
Location
Houston, Texas
You definitely want to check on them. No clue why the internet info is so conflicting, but from what I've seen it seems like people with no rabbit experience swear up and down that you shouldn't touch the babies like they know what they're talking about simply because they've been told that about hamsters or something... very frustrating for someone looking for a solid answer!

Mother rabbits (even wild ones) will NOT abandon their babies because a human has touched them. An extremely stressed rabbit who is further stressed by a human's presence *might* (but usually won't) reject her babies because of that stress, but it won't be because of the smell. In other words, if you're worried about upsetting mom by handling the kits, the thing to do is remove her from the cage, put her somewhere that she can't see the cage from and handle them while she's not there, then bring her back.

It's both safe and encouraged to handle kits at least once a day from the day they're born :). You should be taking each one out, making sure they're alive and checking to see that their tummy looks round and full.

They would be dead by now if she weren't feeding them, so it seems she's not one of the first time moms who don't get it right - always a wonderful thing! Usually if rejection is going to happen, it happens in the first few days. By day five, the odds are definitely in their favor. Some kits do die closer to weaning age, but that usually happens because of issues/defects that made them too weak to survive.

One thing you *definitely* need to do is get a nest box. Breeders use nest boxes that look something like this... for accidental litters, you can ghetto-rig something out of a shoebox (plastic would be better than cardboard - sturdier and waterproof; Walmart, Home Depot, etc. sell them for $1-2 each. Kits can't regulate their own body temp at first and rely on snuggling together under mom's fur in the nest to stay warm. Also, mother rabbits are incapable of moving their kits around so if a kit wriggles out of the nest, she can't bring it back. A nest box will keep the kits safely inside. You can cut one side a little lower so that mom can hop in and out more easily, though you don't have to (it does still need a partial side, though - that way if a kit is still nursing when mom leaves, it gets scraped off by the wall of the nest box when she exits and isn't pulled into the cage where it could get too cold.

Once you find something to use as a nest box, you need to build a nest in it yourself out of hay and then gently transfer both the kits and mom's fur from the nest she built into the nest box.

At 2-3 weeks old, they start venturing out of the nest box and nibbling on mom's food. They need to be with her until at least six weeks old. If it's a large litter and some kits seem a lot larger than the others, you can pull them to a different cage at six weeks old and leave the others with mom for another two weeks to give them time to catch up; if it's a small to medium sized litter, you can leave them all in there until 8 weeks old.

By 12 weeks old, they all need to be separated from mom and separated into boys and girls - boys can become sexually mature as young as 12 weeks old. You'll also need to monitor for signs of fighting amongst the boys as hormones can provoke vicious or even deadly fights. If you see fighting, the bunns involved need to be housed individually. Girls reach sexual maturity at 4-6 months of age, so you don't have to worry about them fighting until 16 weeks.

You need to be feeding mom extra pellets (and extra leafy green veggies are never a bad idea, either). You can also supplement her with alfalfa hay if she isn't already getting some - just make sure to introduce it gradually if she's not used to it! Getting enough calories is crucial, since she's still growing somewhat in addition to raising a litter.

As for keeping one of the girls, please keep a few things in mind:
~ Females NEED to be spayed - unspayed females have, on average, a lifespan that's half that of spayed females due to their proclivity for cancers of the reproductive system. (The same is not true of males; neutering is generally done to resolve behavioral issues and/or make it possible to bond them to another rabbit.)
~ In order to keep two adult (ie sexually mature) rabbits together safely - regardless of their genders - they BOTH need to be altered and they need to go through a bonding process.
~ Spaying is significantly more expensive (and invasive) than neutering. I paid $465 total for two spay surgeries at my vet in San Antonio. If you're wanting to keep one of the kits to bond with mom, you might actually be better off keeping a male (they can be neutered as soon as their testicles descend, often as young as three months old... and mom can be spayed as soon as the kits are 8 weeks old).

Keep us updated on how the little cuties are doing! Oh, and if you can sneak in there with a camera, we LOVE baby pictures ;).
 
Last edited:

RebeccaJC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
69
Reaction score
5
Location
NULL
Thank you so much for your thorough reply. I am going to check on the babies when my partners home from work so one of us can distract Mum and comfort her. She is usually fine with me bringing her food and water.. and still enjoys the attention we give her but she is very cautious about what might be around the outside of the hutch and constantly checks when we open the hutch bless her. I am very careful not to make too much noise and always keep the door shut when I enter and even close the door carefully when I leave as not to make too much noise. Our rabbit really is a darling though and I am extremely proud of her and how she is so far handling being a Mum.

I will look into getting a nesting box though I feel guilty at the thought of disturbing her original nest as it seems quite complex and comforting for the babies. Her hutch has a separate compartment for sleeping with a arch leading to it.. that is where she is keeping her babies so not sure if they are already quite secure in there? If not I will definitely look into getting a nesting box. I feel worried about the idea of moving her original nest.

I really hope when I check on babies there all alive and well. It sounds as if there are at least 3-4 babies there but we will see. I will let you all know once I find out.

As for keeping a male id prefer to keep a female as I am actually considering becoming a rabbit breeder towards the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 which is why I didn't mind our beautiful bun not being spaded when we bought her. I like the idea of breeding just didn't expect to get a taste of breeding this soon as she's so young and I was hoping to wait at least a year before making the final decision and purchasing a stud. I haven't decided on breeding yet as I want to make sure its also in the best interests of Mum as she's also a family bet, I don't see her as a breeding machine but part of the family and therefore waiting a year to see if its in her best interests is what id prefer to do as it has got to be in her best interests too. I will also see how things go with her first litter :) I had no idea she was pregnant, it was quite a surprise! but I am hoping they'll stay well and I'll get to see them grow into beautiful and healthy buns! I will however look into spading the bunny I do keep as there will be no need to keep bunny fertile as I will not be looking to breed both. It'd be too much. I am looking into getting a double hutch (upstairs and downstairs) where you can shut the door to the upstairs part so if need be they can be kept separate but hopefully they will bond.

I have been looking EVERYWHERE for alfalfa pellets and hay as I have heard its best for Mum whilst she's nursing but can't find it anywhere! (I am from England) it seems the pellets are non existent! yet everyone talks about them.

Mum's being well fed. I am always making sure her food bowl is topped up. I am topping it up twice a day at the moment as she is eating so much. She has a really big appetite at the minute but that's not a surprise considering. She's also getting plenty of greens too. I am giving her greens every morning and topping her water up on a daily basis. She also has plenty of hay. I heard kale and spinach were best.. so got two big packets and feeding her handfuls of kale at the minute. She's also got a rabbit chew attached to her hutch.. she's being spoilt rotten! But she deserves it :)

Thank you for all the advice. I hope they will keep thriving and growing. All I want is at the end of it all.. healthy bunnies! I will try to get photographs for you but not sure I will be able to without too much disturbance as its quite a dark room and I won't be able to use a flash and i don't want to disturb too much but as soon as i can get photographs I will upload them to you :)

Its been scary reading all the horror stories on the internet of rabbits having bunnies especially their first litter! I keep worrying about the babies but hopefully they will be just fine. Thank you so much again :)
 

RebeccaJC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
69
Reaction score
5
Location
NULL
Also another question.. when is it okay to start considering cleaning the hutch out? I know I should probably wait at least 2 weeks which I am willing to do.
 

Imbrium

Jennifer
Joined
Aug 13, 2012
Messages
6,160
Reaction score
1,125
Location
Houston, Texas
After you move the babies into the nest box, I believe it would be fine to clean the hutch - it's mostly the nest box that it's better to wait to clean. I'm not 100% sure on that, though, as I don't actually breed rabbits (I just know a lot about it :p). OakRidgeRabbits is a very experienced breeder and has been online very recently this morning - you might send a PM asking her, as she could give you a more definite answer :).
 

majorv

Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
3,437
Reaction score
704
Location
Texas
As Jennifer mentioned, the nestbox will keep the kits contained until they have a good coat of fur on them, usually about 2 weeks. Until then they can easily get chilled. Newborns have been known to wander away from the nest and then can't stay warm, and die. Definitely by 2 weeks you should clean up the nest by throwing soiled material away and refreshing the hay. If you can keep some of the fur to re-use that would be good. The main reason you need to check on kits right after they're born, and subsequently, is to make sure you remove any dead ones, and to make sure they're being fed.
 

RebeccaJC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
69
Reaction score
5
Location
NULL
Okay thank you very much.. I am not sure I have anything for a nesting box and unsure where I will be able to find something. I will have a look though.
 

RebeccaJC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
69
Reaction score
5
Location
NULL
Is it not okay to leave her original nest if its in her sleeping compartment of her wooden hutch? As its probably only a bit bigger than a nesting box? But i am not sure though. I can't think of anything I can use for a nesting box as only have cardboard and Mindy loves to chew cardboard so cant imagine it lasting long.
 

majorv

Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
3,437
Reaction score
704
Location
Texas
If there's an opening they can crawl out of then there's always the possibility that will happen. You could try putting something in front of the opening that Mom can hop over but the kits can't get past, at least not right now.
 

RebeccaJC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
69
Reaction score
5
Location
NULL
Mm yeah I might though don't want to stress her.. I have looked everywhere on the internet for affordable nesting boxes but struggling to find any. All ranging in the £30 zone and I am going to have to invest in a new hutch soon. So far none have tried to wiggle out the nest thankfully. Hopefully they won't. I will keep looking for a nesting box though. Its a shame I don't have anything at home I can already use.
 

RebeccaJC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
69
Reaction score
5
Location
NULL
Im going to try get a photograph of the nest today and will show you what her nest is like. It seems secure. She has made it quite a deep nest, with Hay and lined with her fur.
 

majorv

Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
3,437
Reaction score
704
Location
Texas
Don't underestimate what a kit can do! I learned that lesson the hard way. If they're outside then you really should find a way to block the kits from getting out of the nest area right now, whether it be a box or blocking the entrance partially. I know you don't want to stress the mom out too much, so it's your call.
 

RebeccaJC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
69
Reaction score
5
Location
NULL
They aren't outside. They are in our dining room and i don't think theres any possible way they can get out. Our hutch is entirely wooden so the only place they'd be is in other compartments but i have been looking when i go in and see Mum and doesn't see to be any lying around. Were going to check the kits soon .. feeling a bit nervous as want them all to be well and I don't want to disturb the nest or Mum so I am scared.. I hope it doesn't stress her or make her harm them. She is a very protective Mum. I have just gone in to open curtains to let light in for when we check them and she was alerted so stroked her so she knew it was me and she again continuously checked for danger and i noticed shes pulled lots of fur out again and re-covered the hole. She keeps covering holes made, so i don't know if the holes are made in the morning due to feeding and she then covers them by late afternoon/night time. Which i am glad about... wish me luck .. fingers crossed the kits are all alive and well! will keep you updated!
 

RebeccaJC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
69
Reaction score
5
Location
NULL
I hope she doesn't get upset at us pulling the nest upwards when she's just re-covered the nest with her fur to keep them warm! Also I have been reading on putting vanilla extract on Mum's nose when you check little ones so she can't smell your scent after for a while.. is this something that other people have heard of before and is it safe?
 

RebeccaJC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
69
Reaction score
5
Location
NULL
Its admittedly starting to really stress me out! Just told my younger sister i am going to look at them today and get a sudden text saying oh my friend says to rub your hands in their bedding and on bunny and try not to touch them too much and so forth... and then leave well alone! There's so many horror stories on internet, so many people saying don't do this, don't do that, that its starting to really frighten me! I don't want the babies to be harmed. Its so conflicting and puts so much doubt in your mind :(
 

RebeccaJC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
69
Reaction score
5
Location
NULL
Hi everyone.. sorry for repeated messages but just been to see babies! We have 5 beautiful kits and they are already quite big and getting their fur in so think there around 5 days old. They are so gorgeous.. they are spotty babies, some are white.. can't explain how beautiful they are! The nest is excellent too.. very well insulated.. and deep so proud of Mindy our Mummy rabbit! She got very stressed when we went in, she was stamping her feet bless her.. she was so stressed.. we tried to keep her calm by cuddling her and I got her some kale which seemed to calm her right down. They are all so far alive and well.. hopefully they'll stay alive and well.. All very lively :) very pleased. I just hope she'll be fine with us going in and won't do anything to hurt babies now. We stroked her before going into nest and didn't touch actual babies. I am so proud of her.. feel like a proud Mummy! haha i really hope they continue to thrive.
 

Imbrium

Jennifer
Joined
Aug 13, 2012
Messages
6,160
Reaction score
1,125
Location
Houston, Texas
Ok, first of all, take a DEEP BREATH and try to relax! I promise, you're far more worried than you need to be - rabbits are hearty and resilient despite a reputation for being fragile... and from what I've heard, most mother rabbits seem to sort of LIKE it when you peek in on their kits - a bit proud, like they're thinking "check out what I did!"

Mm yeah I might though don't want to stress her.. I have looked everywhere on the internet for affordable nesting boxes but struggling to find any. All ranging in the £30 zone and I am going to have to invest in a new hutch soon.
As I mentioned before, a shoebox-sized plastic storage container (something that costs practically nothing) would get the job done ;). You guys don't have Walmart and Home Depot, granted (I didn't realize before that you weren't in the US), but I'm sure you have "all purpose" type stores. You want something like this (though of course you'd leave the lid off). It's not ideal, but it's sufficient and FAR more budget friendly than buying a true nesting box!

my friend says to rub your hands in their bedding and on bunny and try not to touch them too much and so forth...
Also I have been reading on putting vanilla extract on Mum's nose when you check little ones so she can't smell your scent after for a while.. is this something that other people have heard of before and is it safe?
Safe, yes. Necessary, no. Both of these suggestions are essentially old wives tales - advice that keeps getting passed along even though it isn't actually correct; people hear it so much they start believing the myth and then passing it along themselves.

Majorvis an experienced and reputable breeder; I breed sugar gliders rather than rabbits, but I've done a ton of research into rabbit breeding and spent lots of time talking to our breeders to make sure I can give accurate advice to people in situations just like yours if none of the actual breeders are around - I promise, we wouldn't steer you wrong ;).

As I said before, if you're worried, the thing to do is remove her from the room so she can't watch you inspect the kits... and even that's a precaution that's usually only needed if the mother doesn't trust you at ALL.

Despite rabbits being so scent-oriented, they're shockingly laid back when it comes to their young. In fact, surrogacy (adding kits from one doe's litter to another doe's litter because the first doe isn't caring for them or has passed away) has a near-100% success rate for rabbits even when the two litters are a couple weeks apart!

If a momma rabbit doesn't care that her "litter" has doubled in size, appear to be two different ages and suddenly smell different then it makes sense that she wouldn't care that you've gently handled her kits ;).

Edit: missed your last message... wonderful! Five is a nice, easy-to-care-for number; I'm so glad they're all happy and healthy :D.
 

RebeccaJC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
69
Reaction score
5
Location
NULL
Thank you for your advice :) I have been to see babies now and they are so gorgeous. Mum did get really stressed. She was stamping her feet but tried to keep her as calm as possible by stroking her. I then got her some kale and she calmed right down. After finishing her kale she went to check on them as soon as we left. She's done a really good job so far.. the babies all seem very well. They are quite big already! And also their fur is growing in. They were really lively and they are very gorgeous. They are spotty! Which doesn't surprise me as their Dad is black (as he was the only male she used to live with) and she is ginger with grey spots. They really are perfect. The nest she's made is perfect too.. so I am feeling very proud of her. Its very deep and well insulated. She's made a burrow with lots and lots of hay and the inside is layered with her fur and the top is as well.. and they were all warm and cosy. I hope they continue to thrive now and keep healthy! I don't think she needs a nesting box as the nest is very secure and its sort of already like an indoor nesting box in her hutch so going to leave that for now but if they start getting more active.. I will be sure to look into the shoe box idea :) but i think the nest is quite secure. I didn't want to get a photo as its a dark room and i am worried the light will hurt their eyes as already had to shine a torch to the side of them to see into nest. Thank you once more for your advice :)
 
Top