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Unexpected Christmas Litter! Help!

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rpuckett

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Let me start this thread by saying hello to everyone, and now straight on to business.

I know I haven't been back in a while, and the last time I was here I was talking about how my newly adopted bun had a white spot in her eye, and doing a bit of research on that. After medication and lots of TLC, she seemed to recover. The spot in her eye stopped growing and she went back to normal behaviorally.

Prior to her being ill I had been socializing her with my male/female duo, being of course that I adopted her from the shelter and signed papers to the effect of her being spayed prior to being allowed to take her home. I am sure you can tell where this story is going.

After a bit more than a week she started getting a bit hateful with the other two so I separated her again, and she started building a nest. Well, this wasn't the first nest she had built so I didn't think much on it. But imagine my surprise when my husband texted me urgently from work that he was coming to pick me up from work early.

To my surprise, this seven year old rabbit has had eight babies! She was supposed to be spayed! AHHHHH!!! This is incredibly stressful for my whole family as we have never had a liter of any animals. But they are also adorable and such. They were born on 12/10/13. At first I checked on them and they were all about the same size. But today when I came home from work I noticed that there is now one who is much bigger than the rest and one that is much smaller.

I have been able to suppliment a bit of goat's milk, but have been scared to feed more than a few drips because I know over feeding can be deadly to them. But how do I know? Two are pretty fat, the rest have full tummies, and the little one worries me. He doesn't seem to have much will to eat, I just don't know if I should force him or if he will eat on his own. I haven't seen the mom feed them but I know she only does that early and late and also that if she wasn't producing some milk they would all be dead. How can I get all these babies thriving until they get a bit more fragile so that I don't have to fret about them?

If TL;DR surprise babies, one much smaller than the rest, not eating so good, what can I do and/or how to help save baby!

PS, I don't think it is a peanut as both parents are mixed breeds. Hoping someone out there has some magic tonight, because I am really stressed.
 

lovelops

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From me taking care of my Agouti's whose mommy died on them, I bought kitten replacement milk from the pet store and fed them as much as I could get them to take. I fed them every 3 hours.. I know people say the mother only feeds then once or twice a day but they were not doing well and two had already died... anyway, I got them plumped up and fed them from an eye dropped and then graduated to a syringe that was the smallest I could find. I went to a vet also and got some help from him and his staff on feeding- which was as much as I could get them to take of the milk which I went for. Today those babies turned one year and six months the 9th of this month.

Personally, and this is from me taking care of these two, if you feel the guys are underfed or a few of them are, fed them with the goat or kitten replacement milk and if you want to do like I did, feed them every three hours to make certain they thrive. What animals do in the wild and what we need to do to get them to survive are two different things. I didn't want to lose the last two of the litter so we all took turns in my house feeding these babies- one girl and one boy.

In the morning I would try to get each of them to drink 5 eye droppers full of the kitten replacement milk. 2-3 hours later we had grandma (who had raised rabbits but not for pets and I'll leave it at that...especially after she made the remark after I got them to the three month mark how good they were going to taste when we finally cooked them since I had been feeding them tomatoes, rosemary and cilantro.. that misunderstanding got taken care of REAL FAST)...feed them another 5 and so on..By month two we had them nice and healthy. By the end of month three my husband kept wanting to feed them solid food, but I kept having him wait as I did not want to rush them.

Even to this day if I feel they are not drinking enough I will get some kitten replacement milk and MAN, will they lap it up like crazy. I honestly think that they like the kitten replacement milk better than water these days... but anyway, try to keep these babies going and if you want to go my route which worked for my Agouti's, go to every 3 hour or so route with the kitten replacement milk. They are still here, healthy, and I got them checked out by the vet when they were 5 days old because of the death of the mother and then later...

Please keep us posted!
 

JBun

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If it's not a peanut, it could be a runt or a fader. Unfortunately there isn't much you can do about faders as there is some possible genetic or health problem that causes them not to survive long. For a runt that doesn't appear to be doing well, you can supplement feeding. Hand feeding is very risky as kits can easily aspirate the milk. Instead I would suggest holding the mom and allowing the baby to have a chance to nurse from her on it's own. Some people do this successfully by holding the mom on her back and placing the baby on her belly, but this may not be the safest way as the mom may kick or move, throwing the baby off. A safer way may be to hold the mom sitting in your lap, then have someone bring the baby from up under your legs and under the mom bunny, to nurse from her that way. You will want to try and pick a time a while after she has just nursed the babies, so that it gives some time for her to have milk again.

Did the mom build a good nest with hay and fur, and have you placed it in a nest box so the babies can't wander off? You'll also want to check the babies at least once a day to make sure they are all eating and doing well.

And get after that shelter! I can't believe they said she was spayed when she really wasn't. They should still spay her for you, but you'll just have to wait 8 weeks til the babies are weaned.
 
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rpuckett

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She did build a good nest with fur. Her chest is nearly bald! I got a plastic box with sides a few inches tall and moved the nest and babies into it with all the extra fur she pulled. The nest looks good, and even other baby looks well.

I feel like she isn't making milk but that doesn't seem possible. I have flipped her on her back a few times and held her while the tiny buns are on her belly and they suck really fast and hard but it doesn't seem like they get any food. They don't seem to get any fuller and they switch nipples a lot, and when they switch the nipple looks all red like they sucked the blood up into the skin but didn't get any food. And also it makes her pretty grumpy, like maybe it hurts her. Is there a way I should know? I can't stimulate any milk letdown myself for her.
 

JBun

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She'll only feed them once or twice a day, usually in the evening or morning, so if you check then you should be able to see if they have been fed. You're looking for 'ping pong' bellies, and you can sometimes see a lighter area on the belly where the milk is in the stomach. With it being 3 days since they were born, they must be getting some milk or they wouldn't still be alive. If the babies seem like they aren't plump and are getting wrinkly and skinny, she may not be producing enough milk. I don't know if your vet could give her a shot to stimulate her milk or not. If not you may have to supplement their feeding with hand feeding. It's not ideal, but may be necessary.

This link has some pics of what the babies should look like with full bellies.
http://www.welshrabbitry.com/birth.html
 

majorv

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It sounds like the littlest one may not make it. It does sound like mom is feeding them; however, if the little one has gone a day or so without feeding then he's getting too weak to suck. You could try using an eye dropper of goats milk on him, but you can't force him to take it.

Also, we never had much luck flipping the mom on her back to allow one to nurse. Sometimes it's better to do it the way Jenny described...bringing the kit from underneath.
 
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lovelops

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I forgot to add that since the mother was gone, we took a rabbit fur lined hat and turned it inside out to use as a nest for the two that lived. They felt they were still near their mom. I also understand about bunnies aspirating on the milk since I had to watch for that, be careful it does not go down their nose and is in their mouth instead. That was something I worried about every time I fed them but it was better than letting them starve to death.

I did this for over 3 months to make certain that they would make it and today the two made it and are in their cages happy. If it's a runt you want to try to save, I would recommend trying that to try to save it if you wish.. I have no idea why the other two died.. I don't know if something happened to them while they were outside, but after that I have never kept any rabbits outside any more. I have kept them all inside including the two that lived.
 

rpuckett

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We are celebrating that the littlest lived through the night. I check on him several times. His stomach is in line with his rib cage or sticks a bit out but he doesn't look fat like the others. I have been supplementing a bit of goat milk replacer, although the bottle nipple is too big. I have been flipping the doe over, and dribbling a bit on her nipple since I can't seem to get her to lactate. He goes nuts for this. He still wiggles about and snuggles with his siblings and has more energy. He definitely still has the drive to suckle on her. When I was holding him early trying to get him to eat a bit he peed and made a tiny poo on my hand! The things that rabbit people get excited over, but it made me so happy. I am too scared to get my hopes up, but I will just keep doing everything I can. I will keep you all posted.
 

rpuckett

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Is it possible for a kit's hindquarters to be so pinched that they become non-functional?

The more I observe the littlest, the more I feel something is not quite right. The others are still wobbly, but can crawl in a direction if they want. The tiny one rolls so much if he is not leaning against something. I had a rabbit before that passed away and had head tilt and my heart leaps out of my chest whenever he does a little roll. I am full of fear for the tiny one. Well, for all of them. I certainly don't want the healthy ones to think I don't think of them. There are four that will be broken white and four that are mismarked dutch pattern.

The fattest two are white, and the smallest two are dutch. I want them all to make it so badly. I feel like every day six of them are getting stronger, one is on the cusp, and Tiny is just trying to hang in there. But I am thinking maybe he doesn't look like the others because of something with his back legs. I mean, he's getting food, and I am doing some extra, but he is still wrinkly. But he has a lot of energy when I put him on momma, looking for food. I can't tell whether I am panicking over something silly or whether I should be panicking much harder.

I used to think I wanted to breed rabbits sometime later in life because I love rabbits and the science behind it all, but I am way too attached and emotional and anxious to ever be able to enjoy this as a hobby I think. And I am only four days into this litter. I am humbled/thankful/awed by people who work towards perfecting breeds of rabbits, that's for sure. I wonder if people ever feel like they are screwing things up less? I feel like it doesn't matter what I do, it will be the wrong thing. I want to hold Tiny and then think maybe I should just let him lie with his/her siblings. Maybe I should feed more, maybe I shouldn't. I guess things like this come with experience. I don't think I could bear the consequences of learning these things now.

Please keep us in your thoughts and send your good energies to us!
 

JBun

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Do his back legs seem deformed at all? Do you see anything else that is different about him as opposed to the other kits?

I've raised a few litters and babies, and I know how stressful it can be. I couldn't be a breeder either. Just remind yourself that baby rabbits are very fragile. You can really only do your best to help them survive.
 

rpuckett

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I will post some pictures of him tomorrow compared to some of the bigger ones for opinions. The back legs are formed correctly, everything looks right shape-wise, but small/weak, like he isn't as developed as the others. Which may be the case, as the size difference is only getting larger. Which isn't even a big deal to me. If I can just help him live, he can stay with me and I will make him a little cart for his back legs, and it will be happy. At least that is what I keep telling myself. If he can just keep surviving, and get out of this danger zone, I will do what it takes for him.

But kits are so fragile, I don't know if it makes a difference how much I try. I am so stressed. I am going to hit the hay for now, turn off the lights and hope she gets in there to feed those babies, I get up to check on them several times a night. I just have to hope and pray that everyone is good. Pictures and posts tomorrow. Good night everyone, wish me luck.
 

rpuckett

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The littlest did make it through the night. But he died this afternoon in my hands. I didn't take any pictures of him/her (we decided last night to call him/her Kerfuffle, despite my knowing that naming him was not a good idea. I also knew that if he was going to cross the Rainbow Bridge, I didn't want him to not have a name) before that, but I do have pictures of the other small one next to one of the average ones. Will attach in the next post. I spent the night checking on the babies, and making sure Kerfuffle didn't look too thin/cold/etc. He was looking smallish this morning, but still had energy to try and suckle (though he/she always hated goat's milk, and so that was a fight), but between keeping him on mom and the extra feedings Kerfuffle was looking full for him/herself and I had a few errands that had to be run. I worried about him all day, fretting and feeling anxious because even though he had been feeling energetic, the size differences between him and his siblings was becoming ever more disparaging. But I hopped that the warm nest and a full tummy would carry him through the full time I was gone.

I don't know if the following will be upsetting for some so I feel like I should give a warning ahead of time:

I rushed in the house and into the nest box to find seven healthy babies, and Kerfuffle, whom I thought was already dead. He was wrinkly and so thin. He looked withered. When I took him out, he was limp. I just held him and cried and rubbed him a bit. And he moved his head. He was still breathing, but so slowly and shallowly I couldn't even tell at first. I tried giving him a good rub, tried laying him on his momma, feeding him goat's milk. It didn't make a difference, and I knew he was dying. So I got my husband to take me to the shelter because I didn't want him to suffer until he passed. He crossed to the Rainbow Bridge before we got there, in my favorite bandanna in my hands. In my sorrow I can at least find some solace that he doesn't hurt anymore. That he doesn't feel hunger. I will post a Rainbow Bridge announcement for him shortly.


In the remaining kits, most are growing quickly, but there is one more that is smaller than the rest, but who was still bigger than Kerfuffle. He is shown in the following pictures:
 

rpuckett

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I hope that these pictures show up.

Kerfuffle was smaller then the small baby (Kerfuffle is the only one that got a name so far). All the other kits are the size of the fat one or bigger. I don't know if that means I should be bracing my heart for an impending second loss. Sorry about the cellphone pictures and my somewhat messy carpet. Stress has made that not matter very much today.

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JBun

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I'm so sorry you lost the little kit. It probably had some sort of genetic defect and it's little body just couldn't manage. You certainly tried your best to help him though.

The other small kit just looks like a runt to me. And it looks nice and plump and healthy, so I would think that it should be just fine as long as it keeps getting it's share of the milk.

Your babies are sooo cute! I think you're doing a wonderful job with these little guys! It can be hard raising kits when you've never done it before, and not knowing what you're supposed to be doing for them.

The next step will be at around 11 days old, their eyes will start opening. Around then they will start venturing out of the nest box. When they won't stay in, that's when you clean it out and let them be with their mom. I turned my nest box on it's side and put a layer of hay on the bottom, so that the bunnies could still have someplace to snuggle together. Momma bun may panic once those babies start chasing her. It will help if she has something she can hop up onto where the babies can't get to her. Also as they get older they will start nibbling on moms food. I had a few problems with pellets causing poopy bums with some of the babies, so I raised moms pellets up so that the babies couldn't get to them til they were a bit older and could handle them better. They could still get a few stray bits, and around 4 weeks they were eating more of them, and were eating hay as well. I just wanted their digestive systems to slowly get used to the pellets to minimize any digestive upset. It's good to check the babies bums a couple times a day in case they do get a poopy bum, so it doesn't clump and dry around the opening, and plug them up.

But you'll love when they are 2-4 weeks old. They're just learning how to hop. It's so adorable to see them all of a sudden spring into the air and look around wondering what just happened. Plus at this age they still aren't too active and want to snuggle with you. At about 5 weeks they get way too wiggly.

These are my babies(they're all grown up now). Mom is 'hiding' in her litter box from them :)

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majorv

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It's possible the littlest one had a genetic defect, but it's also possible he was injured after birth. It's not unheard of for mom to accidentally step on a kit. Either way, I'm glad you were able to hold him before he passed.

Kits' eyes generally open by the time they're 14 days old. Once in a while I have to help them to open but usually not. It varies when they start leaving the nestbox. My Polish will hide in the box until their 3 weeks old, and I have to take them out. Our Tans are jumping in and out after their eyes open! Once they're out they will nibble on pellets. I've, personally, had few problems with poppy bums on kits just starting to nibble on mom's pellets. Make sure they're getting hay to eat as they grow.
 

Imbrium

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I'm so sorry you lost Kerfluffle :(.

I brought home a pregnant hamster from the pet store once (a male got put in the female cage by some stupid employee... I saw and tried to fetch the manager, but he managed to hump Misty before he got removed - I bought her so she wouldn't have to give birth at the pet store or get sent back to the hammy mill). She had 12 babies, who all looked normal at first, but after a few days I could tell one was a runt. I was bracing myself for him to die at any time, but he made it to their check-up at 1 month old. He only weighed 9g and his siblings weighed 28-35g. The vet listened to his heart and told me he had a heart defect that had stopped him from being able to grow any bigger and that he probably wouldn't live more than another week or two (he seemed as surprised as I did that Lucky had even managed to live that long). By some miracle, his heart defect must've healed itself because he ended up starting to grow again until he pretty much caught up with his siblings... though he did end up passing away when he was 6-7 months old. I could see something like that being the reason that Kerfluffle wasn't growing even though he was getting fed.
 

Blaze_Amita

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In all my years of raising Dutch (went specifically Dutch 5 years ago) I've had a few faders, not as many as I had been thinking I would have had, but at the time I went straight Dutch I had Hollands and Mini Rex which did throw peanuts. But Faders and runts do happen with them!
 

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