Well. If hearing me talk about dead, baby bunnies is going to make you sad, you may want to skip this post. We didn’t have much of a chance to get attached, and life on a farm is filled with death, so the circle of
death life continues.
If you missed the first bunny post, go here to see the breaking news.
Nash (Natasha, our doe) gave birth the 8 wrinkly, moles. Like many, baby bunnies, they are skinheads with spots and look like preemies who were born 3 months before their due date. Which is entirely impossible because mamma rabbits only bake their unborn, bald rats for 31 days.
The good news is we have 6 spunky, feisty, healthy, squirmy, baby bunnies.
The bad news is we lost 2.
I don’t know how many kits a mama bunny usually raises in a litter, but I can say that 8 seems like a lot to me. But, what do I know? Google says rabbits can have as many as 12 in a litter but 6 is the average. We started above average but now we are status quo. Which is fine. 6 is a good number.
The mama definitely rejected one. I tried to shove him back into the baby, bunny pile and help him win his mother’s affections back, but to no avail. He was a goner from the start.
I don’t have any idea why #2 died. I don’t know much about rabbits and am learning.
Here’s some rules I’ve been told to follow with new mama bunnies:
- Don’t touch the babies.
- If you MUST touch the babies follow this protocol:
- Wash your hands with soap & water (to remove any scents)
- Dry hands
- Rub hands all over the mama bunny (to pick up her scent)
- Have someone cover the mama bunny’s eyes while you mess with her kits (babies)
- Touch the kits as little as possible for the shortest time possible and hope the mama doesn’t notice
- Reunite mama with her kits
- Pretend like nothing happened.
We have had good luck with this approach.
Why would I want to touch the newborn bunnies if it’s against the rules?
One word: Death
Ugh, Eeew, Blegh, Gross.
If there is a dead bunny in the midst – he needs to go.
Since they are buried in approximately 3 pounds of bunny fur (the momma rips her fur out in order for her babies to have a cashmere bed to live in), there is no way to just “look” in the nest and decide who’s alive and who’s dead. You must dig, search and scavenge the nesting box like a pirate looking for treasure. But it’s not treasure you find. It’s dead baby bunnies.
Ack. Eeew. Gross.
I’m just gonna go out on a limb and say it’s probably not healthy for a dead bunny to be decomposing among all the other healthy, alive bunnies. Eeew.
So, yes, we need to get our hands in the fur, fluff and litter and fish around a bit to make sure there’s not any dead bunnies buried in there.
In our home, the search party begins with everyone screaming, “PICK ME!” when it’s time to decide who will be lucky one that gets to touch all the tiny little bunnies.
This abruptly turns into a big, fat, “NOT IT” party when target is located.
Daugher: “I think this one’s dead.”
Son: “Well, grab it.”
Daughter: “No, I’m not touching it.”
Son: “You’re the one who washed your hands and rubbed the mama – you do it.”
Daughter: “No way. I’m not touching a dead, baby bunny.”
Son: “Just grab it.”
Me: “Someone grab the dead bunny.” (Mind you, at this point I have been holding Nash (the mama bunny) for about 5 minutes listening to my 2 oldest children argue. I am also holding a washcloth over her face so she can’t see us digging through all her babies looking for corpses.)
Me: “Natasha’s suffocating.”
Daughter: “You do it.” [talking to her brother]
Me: “Good grief. Stop arguing…… and grab the dag-blam, dead rabbit.”
Me again: “Now.”
Daughter: “Fine. Hand me a paper towel.”
Before you judge my awesome parenting skills, you should be told that my oldest daughter BEGGED to be the one to get into the baby bunny nest and count live bunnies. She volunteered as tribute. She got what she wanted, but half-way through, she decided … she didn’t want what she got.
Sorry, you volunteered. You wanted to do it. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Baby bunny taken care of. Natasha was reunited with her litter of 6. She hopped into the nesting box and continued her mommy-duties.
Here is a nice view of our milking barn that is currently a bunny barn due to the fact that winter has returned and spring is gone.
Nash is on your left with her litter of 6. Hulk (our buck) is on the right in his swanky, new ManCave.
The baby rabbits are going to be so cute – just wait – in 2 weeks you will all want one.