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Rabbits are able to conceive at any given time. The doe does not have an "ovulation" time period like humans do. They are ready everyday and will conceive when a buck mates with her. It is very important that if you do not want your rabbit to get pregnant and you have a pair, that either they are the same sex or the buck is neutered.
The Pregnant Doe
Once the doe is pregnant, whether is was accidental or not, you will have to make preparations to ensure that she has a safe and healthy pregnancy as well as healthy offspring.
Here is a Nest box. You can also make a homemade box.
Rabbits give birth quickly and silently and usually at night time. A few hours after the doe gives birth, you will need to lift her out of her cage and check on the kits. Do not be alarmed if there are dead kits or even dis-formed kits as we refer to them as "peanuts". Dead kits and 'peanuts' are common for a does first litter. Remove any that are dead or any peanuts. The doe usually eats all afterbirth. They do this so that their nest does not attract predators. If there are any left over afterbirth, remove it as well. When done, replace the doe in her cage. Do not reach inside the nest while the doe is in the cage, doing so can cause an unintentional bite from her, growl or thump of warning.
If you notice a kit outside of the box , replace it with the rest of the kits inside the nest. Rabbits will not place their young inside the nest and if you don't do it for them, the kit will get cold and die. Replace the soft fur back on top of them when you are finished.
Here is a nest. Only hours old.
One day old Kits. These kits were removed from the cage to be checked. You do not have to remove them completely. These were removed to be placed inside a nest box along with the original nest build outside the box along with the fur.
Rabbits are born with their eyes and ears closed and they are hairless. The doe will nurse them usually at night time, once maybe twice a day. Do not be alarmed if you do not see her nurse them. They usually do not like to do it while being watched. You can check the kits during the morning and see if their belly's appear round. If you see that one or two may not be nursing well, You can feed the kit cats formula ONCE a day with a dropper. Do NOT force the kit to eat. A bottle is not recommended. At about 3 weeks, you will notice that the litter will start to move around and may start nibbling on straw, hay and foods. When the pups are about seven weeks and are eating and drinking properly, they will be ready for their new homes.
Additional pictures of my Abby's first litter.
One week old kits:
Q: The nest became extremely soiled or moist. I cleaned it out but hardly have any fur left. What can I use in place of the fur?
A: Cotton balls! Just get a few cotton balls (make sure they are from a new pack with nothing on them) Pull them apart and place inside the nest box.
Q: Some of the kits look like they aren't getting enough milk or any at all, what do I do?
A: Unless the mother rabbit is known to be dead, there is a good chance that she is feeding her babies, even if she seems to be ignoring them. The mother does not stick around their babies constantly. This is because they don't want to attract predators. They usually only feed their babies once or twice a day and more likely at night or when they aren't being watched. Check the kits tummies to see if they are round and full looking.If the babies are very wrinkled, cold, bluish in color and have shrunken bellies then you may intervene.
If you still believe that the kit is not getting any milk. You can buy kitten milk replacer and a syringe or dropper. Do not force the kit to eat. Let him drink it himself. Newborn to One Week: two - two and a half cc/ml each feeding (two feedings per day). One to two weeks: 5-7 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings per day). The amount will depending on rabbit and may be less if the rabbit it much smaller. Two to three weeks: 7-13 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings). Start introducing them to hay at this time. If the kit seems to be eating a little bit from the mother then only feed ONCE a day with the KMR.
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