Archive | April 20, 2015

Lost Babies


Raising animals is mostly happy times, but once in a while things go wrong.  Jade, my angora rabbit, was due to give birth yesterday.  About six days ago, she suddenly stopped eating anything except hay.  She wouldn’t touch her fresh fruit and veggies, those are always her favorites.  She was barely drinking.  When this happens, it is a very bad sign.  I worried that she might die.

One expects that breeding rabbits would be fairly simple.  They breed like–bunnies, right?  Well, raising purebred angora rabbits is not so easy.  I have lost three does to pregnancy-related problems over the years. Every time a doe is bred, there is a chance she will be dead within a month.  Breeding rabbits always makes me nervous.  Unfortunately, it is the only way to get new generations of rabbits.

Jade has given birth successfully twice and raised two big litters of fawns.  There was no reason to suspect she would have a problem.  She stopped eating soon after she spent several hours roaming free around the hay barn.  Then, yesterday she gave birth to seven stillborn babies.  They looked nearly full term.  I would say they had about five days development left.  For some reason the entire litter died inside her.  Luckily, she was able to pass them all and not get sick or go into shock as can sometimes happen.

A doe might have one or two dead babies in a big litter of eight or ten.  To have the entire brood succumb is very unusual.  I don’t believe the deaths were due to trauma.  Perhaps a few might have been killed if she had been injured somehow.  Not all of them.  How she could have been injured is anyone’s guess. There is really no way for her to get hurt hopping around the floor of the barn or living in her cage.

The babies do not appear diseased, they look normal.  The mother also is not sick now that she has given birth.  So it was probably not disease that killed the babies.  My best guess is the doe found some toxic plant in the hay covering the barn floor.  What plant, I have no idea.  It would have to have been toxic for fetuses but not adult rabbits.

Happily, Jade is eating again and drinking and being active.  Looks like she will pull through fine.  I found a few blades of the first grass of the season for her.  She gobbled them up and looked for more.  After she recuperates for a few weeks, we’ll try again to get some live babies.