One day too late…
Our sweet bunny Honey has been acting weird. She has been attacking the cage door with her paws and making a grunting noise. She isn’t vicious but is definitely acting different–strange. I got a bit concerned and asked our local bunny expert Alecia, from Edelweiss Ranch and Rabbitry, if I should be concerned. I got an answer I was not really expecting–she wants to breed! Well, who am I to get in the way of nature?? We decided that it was time for our homestead to have more babies. We love babies and what is cuter than baby bunnies?? We were advised to wait a month, which was a month ago, for warmer weather and longer days. Alecia is a wealth of information. I am not sure how she feels about it, but I am glad that we met!
We never just do something, so it was time to take out our bunny books and do some research! Here are some bunny breeding facts and cool information I found in our books.
- Bucks are almost always willing to breed–not so shocking! Buster has been chasing (not very successfully) Honey from day one.
- When it’s time, the girl bunny (doe) goes into the bucks cage. Does are territorial and can hurt the buck.
- If the doe is ready to mate, she will not make the buck play hard to get, she will “lift” for him.
- According to the books, it is easy to tell when mating occurs. The buck usually is very vocal toward the end.
- It is recommended that you, the owner, are present during the mating to ensure that it did indeed occur. Also ensuring that everyone is safe, intervening if needed. I guess rabbits are not shy and have no issue with an audience however I have read and heard that the act is quick enough to miss.
- If the doe is not interested, take her out in 10 minutes and give it another try another day.
- A girl bunny giving birth is called kindling and the gestation of the pregnancy is 28-35 days (average of 31). It boggles my mind that it goes from conception to baby bunny (or nine) in just a month!!
- Fatness in a doe causes a difficult pregnancy, so properly feeding the mama is important. It is recommended to keep the doe on the same ration of food for the first half of the pregnancy (15 days) and then gradually increase her feed. Towards the end, before she kindles, she will decrease her food intake on her own.
- The doe will need a nest box; wooden, metal or wire. Dry clean shavings, hay and straw (all clean and dry, of course) is placed into the box and the doe then makes it her own by pulling out fur from her chest and belly, providing a soft nest and exposing her nipples for the babies to nurse from.
- It is important to place the nesting box on day 27 (so documentation is a must) into the clean (not potty) corner of the cage.
- Once the doe kindles, her appetite increases and so should her feed, as she is now eating for the babies as well.
- Does get anxious about their babies as any mamas do. Be considered of her needs and provide a quiet and safe area for them to be.
- Baby bunnies are born naked (no fur) and blind. They begin to grow fur within a few days and by 2 weeks will be completely furred.
- Keeping the nest box clean and dry helps control disease. Cleaning it is essential.
- By 10 days the babies should open their eyes.
- By 3 weeks, kits (baby bunnies) start to come out of the nest and nibble on pellets. At this time, it is advised to start handling them for socialization. It is also recommended to start sexing the rabbits as it tends to be difficult when they are young. So doing it weekly can help confirm your previous observation.
- At 8 weeks, the babies are ready to be weaned form their mama. To make it easier on the mama psychologically and physically (reducing milk production), some separate all the boys first and a few days later separate the girls.
- By 8 weeks, the bunnies are ready to go to a new home or if they are meat rabbits, to be butchered.
Just like with human babies, you can do all the research and read all the books but you will never be too prepared when the babies come. This type of knowledge is not learned, it’s experienced. We feel that we are ready for the challenge and are looking forward to having more babies. We haven’t made the decision whether we will be butchering these rabbits or re-homing them.
Once Honey is bred, we will keep a journal of the experience. We know she had two litters before we got her and we’ve had her for almost a year now. We hope that she is still capable of having babies. It will be fun to see the new fuzzy little bunnies in her nest box.
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Happy Belated Valentines Day!!!