5 Things About Rabbits

Baby Bunnies!!!

Let me preface this post with a warning that I do not know much about rabbits.  We are having a wonderful time learning about them and have only had rabbits for a short time.  If you are looking for expert advice – please search on.  If you would like to see cute baby bunnies and hear about our adventures – continue reading.  🙂

I have learned that technically, they are called “kits.”  Oh, and the mom is a “doe” and the dad is a “buck” by the way.

BUT……..  the word, “kit” is currently not in my working vocabulary, so they are baby bunnies to me.

rabbit 1

We went from 2 bunnies to 8 bunnies to 7 bunnies in 24 hours.

No, I didn’t want rabbits.

No, I didn’t want baby rabbits.

No, I didn’t buy rabbits.

No, I did not know she was expecting.

No, I do not know anything about rabbits.

Welcome to my crash course in rabbit ownership.

In June a very, very thankful man gave us 3 rabbits.  Go here to read about that.  They came fully equipped with:

  • Hutch
  • Food
  • Shavings
  • Drinker
  • Feeder
  • Harnesses
  • Leashes
  • Scoops, treats, hay, and anything else any bunny could ever want.

He wanted a good home for his 3 rabbits.  We (my kids) were happy to oblige.

rabbit 9

Since they arrived:

  • Ike, I mean Zelda, I mean Ike….. died.  Cause of death is somewhat of a mystery.  He, I mean she,  was only at our place a week before he (um.. she) decided to die.  We’re chalking that one up to, “Who knows?”  and moving on.  2 Bunnies is a good number.
  • I have had rabbits on my porch, in my garden, and hopping around the cow barn for 3 months.  I don’t mind having rabbits around. They’re cute.
  • We have learned that Ike was a girl before he/she died,  Lola is a dude, and Bama is a girl.  If you’re completely confused, you are not alone, so are we.  Go here for some cloudy (and entertaining) explanations.
  • My 10 year old daughter has been taking care of the rabbits each day.  She is a fabulous bunny owner and gives them plenty of good food, water, treats and love.

Last Friday morning she came running out to the pigs (which is where I was since they always need water) with a panicked look on her face.  I thought another bunny had died.

Nope.

No one died.

They multiplied.

Instead of 2 there were 8 rabbits in the hutch.  There was also bunny fur everywhere.  You could have stuffed a king-size pillow with it.  I’m not sure how Bama has any fur left on her.  She should be bald.

Have you ever seen a newborn bunny?  No?  Well, it’s your lucky day!
baby bunny 1

Baby bunnies look like naked moles.  They are bald.  They are the size of a big toe.  They’re eyes are closed. They are not cute.

AND

They are hard to count.

5 Things I’ve learned about rabbits in the past 5 days That I wish I didn’t know:

#1  Separate the Buck (the Male)

The male will kill the babies so he can mate with the mama.  Apparently, Daddy rabbits don’t like to share.

# 1 Again. Really, You need to Separate the Buck 

There is a second reason to separate the male.  The female may chew off his no-no-zone to prevent him from attempting to make more baby rabbits.  What?!!

Yup, it’s true.  Sorry.

Seems as though a little space is good for both mom and dad at this juncture.

#2  Rabbit Fur

It is snowing rabbit fur.  The morning we found the baby bunnies there is fluffy, white fuzz flying everywhere.  It was around the hutch, in the dropping pan, in the grass around the rabbit habitat, everywhere.  Mamma Rabbits pull all their fur out to make a nest for the babies.  Since we didn’t know we were having babies we didn’t have a nesting box, board or area prepared.  This is where all the rabbit fluff should have gone.  Since there was nothing to catch all the rabbit fluff, it was everywhere.

#3 Don’t handle the newborn babies (LIES!)

UPDATE – 6/24/2016 – Although we are still cautions to handle our newborn kids as little as possible those first few days, we do handle, love, hold, cuddle and play with our baby bunnies once they are a few days old.

We have a dear friend who’s Doe rejected an entire litter after she and her children had handled them.   We have not experienced this at our farm.

There are mixed opinions on the subject, however, it seems to be generally accepted that if you are the main caregivers & the doe allows you to handle and pet her, she will also welcome you to handle and pet her precious babies.

#4 Build a burrow

The nesting box they sell at Tractor Supply may not be exactly what the mama bunny had in mind, but I’m going to say it’s better than a metal grate.

baby bunny 2

Not only had Mama spent the last 24 hours delivering naked moles bunnies she also spent the better part of the day ripping out all her fur.  Since there was no nest, box or place for her to make a bed for her bald moles baby bunnies; most of the fur was in the dropping tray.  This of course left the naked moles baby bunnies laying on nothing but a hard metal grate.  Sadness!

Like any good little homesteader who woke up to 6 baby bunnies lying in the corner of a hutch on a metal grate I immediately ran out to Tractor Supply to give them $44 so my baby bunnies could be comfy and warm and separated from the evil, baby-bunny-eating buck.

We washed our hands 3 times (to remove our scent) and rubbed them all over mama-bunny (to pick up her scent) before salvaging all the fur we could from the pee-pee tray.  We stuffed her shiny, new, Tractor Supply, bunny-nesting-box with all the fur we collected.  Then we washed our hands 3 more times, rubbed mamma again and carefully placed each naked mole bunny into the nesting box.
baby bunny 7

I’m not sure why, but the next day we were down to 5 baby bunnies.  One died.   Since I have 4 children and there were still 5 baby bunnies we are good.  There’s still plenty to go around.

#5 When did you Seperate the Buck?

I work at a pawnshop.  My husband and I own it.  It makes for an interesting life.  It also makes for an interesting homestead.  We are always meeting great people and are constantly given free animals.  This is how we became bunny owners in the first place.

baby bunny 9

Yesterday Mr. Friend came by the pawnshop (Go here to meet him).  When we mentioned that we just had a litter of baby bunnies he said,

“Did you separate the Buck?”

I said,  “Yes.”

Then he said, “When did you get him out of the cage?”

I said, “The morning we found the baby bunnies.”

Then he said, “She’s already bred back.”  (“bred back” means she is pregnant again)

I just looked dazed and confused I suppose, because he continued,”Rabbits can conceive their next litter 3-4 days before they deliver.”

me,  “Huh?”

Then he said, “Mark your calendar.  You’ll have another litter of bunnies in 25 days.”

I did.

She gave birth 26 days later.  He was right – she was already bred!

baby bunny 6

The last tip I have for any bunny enthusiast out there is this:

Don’t try to watch the mama nurse the babies

After watching the cage for over 45 minutes, waiting for the blessed event, and seeing nothing that resembled a mama-bunny feeding her babies; I decided to google it.  According to the information I found:

  • Mama rabbits typically nurse the babies early in the morning and late in the evening
  • They only nurse 2 minutes each feeding
  • The mama bunny stands over the babies while they nurse
  • The milk is so rich that it sustains the babies until the next feeding

I concluded:

  1. I am probably never going to see a mama bunny feed her babies since I like sleep.
  2. I’m glad I’m not a baby bunny.

When you consider the life of a rabbit living in the wild the quick, late-night, hovering feedings make sense.  There are so many predators hoping for a rabbit-dinner.  If the mama bunny made too many trips to the burrow it could lead Mr. Fox, Mr. Racoon, Mr. Cat, Mr. Hound, Mr. Oppossum, and Mr. Cyote right to her precious babies.  2 trips in the middle of the night keeps the babies safer.

The bunnies are almost a week old now and have more than doubled in size.  They have grown fur.  They are beginning to crack open their eyes.  They have fat round tummies and are getting wriggly.

They may have been ugly, naked moles 5 days ago, but they are adorable now!

baby bunny 4

I’m hoping we will be able to get our hands on them soon because the wait is killing us……… so, so, so cute.  They need me to hold them, I just know it.

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-Candi

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