Our excursions with the rabbits have been going well… And I haven’t given a proper animal update recently to be honest with you.
We move Purina and her litter of seven to the garage. They are four weeks old and are tipping the scales at 1lb 5oz. Very soon my little diet scale will not be able to measure them any more. I will have to pick up a new scale, hopefully with up to a 25lb capacity. That is all I really need and it would be very nice to have.
The litter has begun to wean with no effort on my behalf. In nature a rabbit begins to wean it’s young VERY early, at just two weeks old. This is when mom starts spending progressively more time away from the babies and the babies begin to eat solids. Because the gestation for a rabbit is no more than 35 days, mom wants the babies off of her at four weeks to make room for the next litter. Don’t fool yourself into thinking rabbits in nature take a break… Some people see rabbits bred in captivity as being over-bred, but in general a rabbit in captivity is allowed to wean it’s young before producing more offspring. Not so in the wild where a rabbit will get pregnant again almost immediately after giving birth and will be nursing and weaning her young while pregnant with the next litter. Captive rabbits are far from over-bred in that sense.
Purina has been weaning her babies well. In captivity a rabbit mom can’t get away from her young as easilly being in a cage with them. This isn’t so bad because we WANT the babies on her for longer to grow bigger and stronger faster. It gives the babies a stronger chance to live. But despite this all the babies are eating solids and sometimes I see Purina swat at a baby trying to mug her for milk when it’s not feeding time. Soon I’ll start pulling the biggest of the boys away and her milk production will drop until I can remove her from the remains of the litter without risk of mastitis.
Evo and Nutro have been bearing the cold weather in the back yard fairly well. Today it dropped to 9 degrees as a high and I even took an extra trip out today to give them fresh water because I knew it was going to have frozen before they got a decent chance to drink. Even the bottles of water in the garage, normally so good at staying above freezing, were icing up a little. Nutro does not like the cold at all but finally figured out that his cardboard box is a much warmer place to be and has since perked up. Both rabbits got lots of extra hay to stay warm over the past two days and in some places the hay layer is as tall as they are. We’ve had so much driving wind and snow out lately that I have been keeping the tarps closed. Under tarps and fur and wood and hay and cardboard the rabbits are snug and not too cold at all.
And Evo is definately pregnant from Nutro breaking into her cage while they were both in the garage. She started pulling a nest so I believe she’s about three weeks along. I palpatated her abdomen just to double check and the hard lump of baby bunnies was definately there. The litter will miss most of this horribly cold week… But I need to give her a better nest box to kindle in than the one she has that was supposed to be HER shelter. She’ll get a much better nest box outside soon and will hopefully build her nest in it. I’ll pull her old box out first so the new will be her only real spot to build a nest and then I’ll put her old one back once it’s built. that way both mom and babies will have somewhere warm to be.
Tasty is not yet moved outside. I will be moving her after the worst of this cold snap is gone. It hasn’t yet been two weeks (I think? I need to keep better track.) to be able to palpatate her but I am mostly positive she is also with kits, only a couple weeks behind Evo. There will be a point when I will have three litters of baby bunnies on my property. With the seven I currently have if each other bunny only prodcues six I will have over two dozen rabbits to contend with! I am hoping for even larger numbers than that.
I got a dry-erase board to kelp me try to keep up with kittings, breedings, ear-mite treatments, palpataions, etc… But the magnets on the back won’t stick. Hopefully I will get that fixed soon. Maybe I can find a dry-erase calendar to solve everything.
And the cold stings my hands at night as I go to fumble with the padlocks on the rabbit cages. When I come back in my hands are so cold they hurt. Running them under cold water helps ease it up without causing damage. Never use warm water for cold-bitten skin; always use cold. But far more importantly, always get gloves BEFORE it drops into the single-digits outside. I still don’t have mine. (Whoops.)
Later, as things move along a little, I’ll have a plant update for you. Garden planning is in full swing even though the darkest month of the year isn’t even here yet! In the meantime… I have a foot of fresh snow to shovel!