Tag Archive | breeding rabbits

Little Bunnies One Month Old

Moonstone’s three babies are achieving maximum cuteness at one month of age.  The angora rabbit fawns are little bundles of fluff that fit neatly in your hand.  Two are white albinos with red eyes and one is a chocolate point with blue eyes.  I believe the chocolate point and one white are female and there is one boy.  They are still so young that I can be fooled when sexing babies.  I’ll check again in a month.  At that age their sex will be fairly obvious.

By copying what mother does, the little ones have learned to eat pelleted feed, drink from a waterer and bowl and nibble grass, hay, fruit wood twigs and apples.  Young rabbits have big appetites.  We go through a lot of pellets when there is a litter of rabbits to raise.  Happily, there are only three this time so the feed bill won’t be as big as when there are six or eight to grow.  

I talk to the babies and handle them frequently so they will be gentle and accustomed to humans.  As they enter four to five weeks of age, the fawns develop a natural curiosity and are moving away from the protection of their mom.  This is a great time to socialize them with humans. 

Mom still nurses her fawns and allows them milk once per day.  Whenever anyone tries to get a little extra drink, she hops smartly away.  At two months she will wean them and the little ones will be ready to go to new homes.  If the chocolate point turns out to be a doe, I may keep her for my rabbitry.  She is adorable!

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Good Day For Bunnies

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Yesterday evening the five baby angora rabbits had their first adventure in the outdoors.  They went with their mother to the rabbit run.  The area is about three feet by eight feet, plenty of room for five tiny bunnies to explore.  At first they were shy and stayed near mom.b4

Soon, the fawns were ready to try running, jumping and nibbling greens.  Before long they were sniffing at the rabbits on the other side of the fence and even wriggling through the small holes in the chicken wire.  b2After three had squirmed through, I put up some boards to keep them from escaping.

Baby bunnies have lots of energy.  One will throw its head back and start bouncing around as though its hind legs have a will of their own.  Soon the others join in.  They dart in random directions, sometimes bumping into walls or each other as they learn to control those strong hind legs.

b1Then it’s time for a rest and a quick snack. Rabbits love to chew up grass, clover, dandelion, and tender plantain leaves.  It is advisable to make sure no toxic plants such as burdock, milkweed or nightshade are available because rabbits like to taste almost anything.  Little bunnies are especially adventuresome about trying to eat whatever is around.

As the fawns mature, the one colored baby begins to stand out.  Four are albinos with pink eyes.  b5The other is a male with color points, meaning the nose, ears and possibly tail and feet contrast with the rest of the coat color.  This baby gets darker all the time.  The coat is very light beige with the points currently looking pale gray-brown.  I would call him a lilac point.  His eyes are blue.  As he grows, the colors may deepen.

This is the first color point angora I have produced in about twenty years of breeding rabbits.  He is very cute and loves to cuddle. It is hard to resist keeping him, but I have no does for him to mate.  I’m trying to reduce the herd to one buck and three does.  Holding on to him because he is cute and unusual would be very silly. Next spring we will try again for a chocolate doe.

Finally, Baby Bunnies!

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Finally, after several months of trying, one litter of stillborn babies and two false pregnancies, Mama bunny has given birth! Here are Marble, the father and Jade, the mother. They are both angora rabbits. Marble is albino and Jade is sable color. They are a mix of French and English angora and Marble has a little German angora thrown in. They both produce wonderful fiber up to 7″ long!
After the last false pregnancy I decided to try leaving the pair together for a full night and two days. Maybe they needed more time to do their mating thing. I guess it worked.
When I went to the barn this morning I found a nest mounded over with freshly pulled sable angora fiber.d3

And when I carefully pulled away the top, five pink little babies were nestled contentedly in the warm hair of their mother.d2

I patted their mother well to make my hands smell like her, then examined each baby for any signs of long strands of fiber wrapping around their limbs or neck.  I set them to the side in a small bundle of fur while I clipped the rest of the fiber into short lengths.  If left long, the fiber will spin itself into tough strands that can kill or maim babies who get tangled in it.  When this happened twice in the past I was very lucky to catch the problem before serious trouble started.  After the fiber was chopped short, I rebuilt the nest and put the babies back.  Mama came to inspect my handiwork and seemed to approve.  She washed the little ones to make sure they were clean, then went back to munching her greens.

She will nurse them once a day and keep them clean and safe in the nest.  If all goes well the babies will grow some short fur and their eyes will open in about ten days.  I am anxious to see what colors the newborn babies will be.  My fingers are crossed for a chocolate doe, but that would be almost too much to ask.

Lost Babies

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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.