Thursday, December 11, 2008

Good mommy

I bet you thought this post would be about me and how I am a good mom but you are wrong, wrong, wrong.

I don't think I am a bad mom but this post is about bunnies.

This year we are raising bunnies for 4-H, so we have 4 females and 2 males (2 of the females we knew were good, 2 we weren't too sure about and we weren't sure if either male would be able to . . . perform his duties.)

Anyway, contest is in Febuary and Daisy has to be able to take a pen of 3 or 4 rabbits that she has bred and are 10 weeks old (or maybe its 12, I don't know). So because we didn't know which males would be potent and which females would be fertile, we bred them all. Let me say right now, anyone who asks what we will be doing with all these rabbits, will get some in the mail.

Unfortunatly, the time for them to kindle (have their babies) is during a vicious cold snap for us. Yesterday was in the 40s and last night it was 29. Our average low this time of year is 40. Luckily, the electritian I married but up heat lights and we have the rabbits protected from the wind, it is about 10 degrees warmer in their spot than the rest of the yard. But anyway . . . .

Bunny mamas like having a nest box and a bunch of hay. They gather this hay in their mouths and move it and smoosh it and work at it until they have a lovely hay nest. Then they pull fur off their chest and tummy --I know is sounds awful doesn't it, but apparently the hair is loose--and use that as a padding between the babies and the hay and as a blanket.

First mama is named Dumpling, as a first time mom her skills were . . . lacking. She built her nest outside of the nest box and then sat in the nest box herself. She didn't pull very much hair at all, 2 or 3 tufts which wasn't nearly enough to keep them warm. Her babies were born tuesday morning, before the cold snap all outside the nest box. Baby bunies have no hair and cuddle together to keep warm but 2 of them had lost the others and so all were pretty cold when I found them. I took them in, got them warmed up and then put them back in the nest box. That night as it got cold, I brought the nest box in and they slept in the house. I took them out that morning and thought she would keep them warm (I don't know why I thought she would keep them warm in the day when she wouldn't at night). Anyway, when I went out to check them later, they had frozen to death. A lot of first time bunny mamas lose their babies so . . . .

Nim is our next bunny mama; she was like a kid with a new toy when I put her next box in. She would hop in, then out, then in, then out. She built a lovely nest inside the box, pulled lots of fur and we were able to see her as she was finishing giving birth (nothing graphic to see). She has a lovely litter with visitation rights. I take the babies out a few times a day and let her see and nurse them for about 30 minutes before I bring them back in. She is a wonderful mama even though she is a first time mom; oddly enough she and dumpling are sisters so I don't know why one is a good mom while the other . . . not so good.

Flopsey and Pie are the other girls. Flopsy has warted the hay so much, she has a large pile of it under her cage. When I put a cardboard liner into her nest box, she was finally able to build her nest to her satisfaction. She hasn't kindled yet, it should be today sometime, I keep checking about every 2 hours so we don't have another litter freeze. Pie hasn't built her nest so she may not be fertile . . . or maybe just didn't get pregnant.

1 comment:

  1. What kind of bunnies do you keep? Growing up, my sister and I shared custody (ie fought over) a black lop. He was the sweetest, gentlest thing in the world. (I also had a white female rabbit when I was really young, but she was an evil, hateful thing.)

    Anyway, I always wondered why female rabbits have such a fluffy, plump ring of fur in the front (for lack of the proper term). I guess all of that luxurious fur is pretty practical after all--comes in handy for building warm nests. Neat. :)

    Good luck with the rest of your bunny babies! (I won't ask what you're going to do with the little buns--as much as I love bunnies, we have enough pets.) :)