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Okay to move mom and nest box to a different hutch after 2.5 weeks?

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Jadette

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My lionhead had her first litter of 4 kits 2 weeks and 3 days ago and she has been a stellar mommy - made a textbook nest in her nestbox and nurses her kits regularly. All of the babies are healthy and growing rapidly.

The problem I have is that my setup isn't exactly ideal for active babies! I have a hutch for her that I keep open all the time and a 5'x8' pen that she has been accustomed to having free roaming privileges to 24/7. The nest box is in the hutch. Starting yesterday, the baby bunnies have been hopping out their nest box, out of the hutch, and can squeeze out of the pen. I found one of the bunnies last night under the sofa over 15 feet away from the hutch! I closed up the hutch last night with the fear that they may wander off and get stepped on by one of my sons making a night time run to the kitchen or bathroom. I opened up the hutch again in the morning around 7a. I don't know if my doe skipped a nursing session b/c she didn't have access to her kits. I did not want to put her in the hutch with her kits as she is not used to being in such a confined area and I am certain it would give her stress. It's not a very large hutch.

I actually have a large 4'x4' two story hutch that I can put her in and the nest box. It would be perfect as the kits can run around on the first floor and she can have her privacy on the second floor - at least until the kits figure out how to get up on the ramp!

My question is, if I move her and her nest box to a different hutch, would this cause her to potentially abandon her kits and not nurse them any longer?
 

Happy Hollands

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Honestly, I've never been in the situation where I've had to move the living area of a doe with young kits. It should be fine though, as they are old enough to explore with their eyes open.

Starting yesterday, the baby bunnies have been hopping out their nest box, out of the hutch, and can squeeze out of the pen.
Oh yes, I know exactly what you mean... I had this happen to me once - if you do not want to compromise the current living space, try wrapping cardboard around the outside of the pen to cover the small holes (you can also use fine wire / mesh). This is what I did in a pinch, and it seemed to work fine ;)
 

Jadette

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Thank you for the replies! Good to know I can move them without fear of the doe abandoning them. I did try to wrap the exterior perimeter of the pen, but it was just too much square footage, and I didn't have the proper materials on hand to completely cover it.
I ended up just rigging up the hutch entrance so that it would be easy for the doe to hop in but more difficult for the kits to hop out. Seems to work for now. The kits will probably figure out how to get out in a week or so - but by then, I would be less concerned if the doe is nursing the kits anymore and I'll just move them to a more permanent location with their mommy.
 

JBun

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I did the same thing as Happy Hollands. Really easy, just zip tie posterboard, cardboard, or something like that along the bottom of the pen. Metal mesh can be used, but it is difficult to cut and work with without getting a bit scratched up, costs a lot more, and you have to make sure you don't leave sharp metal nubs. A mesh plastic pet screen may work if momma bun doesn't try and chew it. I used posterboard, maybe 9 inches high, and it worked fine. Though if momma bun likes to shred it up, then maybe something else similar that's more chew proof, or just replace the posterboard as needed.
 

Jadette

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Thanks for the suggestions! I did just that - surround the area with cardboard. They've been chewing it up pretty good, so we'll see how long it lasts!

They're no longer returning into the nest box to rest. I'm not sure how she's still nursing them (don't know that she is anymore? They're only at the 3 week mark) because they're just EVERYWHERE now. Here's one of them (this one might be a black or blue tort? Mom is a blue tort) nibbling on mommy's wheat grass that I grow for all of my bunnies.
20201031_084253.jpg
 

JBun

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Once they are mobile enough to be out of the nest, it's not unusual for them to stay out of it. Plus it's not really needed. If it's a wood or metal nest box, you can clean it out and flip it on it's side as a cubby hole for them to snuggle in. You'll just want to line the bottom with some absorbent bedding and hay on top. Or any sort of cubby or place they decide they like to snuggle up in. I once had a litter of babies that liked to pile on top of each other to nap in their extra large food bowl.

There will be a time in the morning and/or evening when she will be nursing them. When she's ready to she will come over to them and they'll know it's time for them to nurse. It's fun to watch, because the babies get so excited and frantic to get their share. And you watch mom patiently riding this wave of wiggly squirming babies.
 

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