Thursday, March 29, 2012

The First 3 Rabbits Are Here!

Yesterday morning as it hailed and spat cold rain I went back to Michelle Chandler's farm, and was able to pick up the first three of the four breeder rabbits we are getting from her. The fourth, an American Blue female isn't quite old enough to be sexed accurately yet. So, time to introduce you all to the rabbits.

This is Umbra, son of Shadow. He is the son of one of Michelle Chandler's stud bucks, and his mother, an American Blue, produced substantial litters.

 As you can see, Umbra is a very confident rabbit. From word go he was out and about, and as soon as I opened the hutch door to take pictures he was out and investigating me while the lady of the house took pictures.  As soon as he noticed the camera, he went to investigate that as well. While the picture below may not be the picture the lady of the house would have chosen, I thought it illustrated Umbra quite nicely.
Fortunately despite investigating the camera for a few seconds, he did not give it the traditional rabbit investigation. Chewing.
Once satisfied with our existence, Umbra quickly went to wandering around the cage, sometimes at high speed. He seemed to be enjoying himself bouncing around and exploring every inch of his new domain.

For a bit of an idea of how big a 12 or so pound rabbit is, this is me holding him. Shadow was just fine being held, and came back to investigate me immediately after I put him back. I had initially thought to not handle them the first day to minimize stress, but Shadow seemed just fine.

Dawn, the Creme D'Argent doe calmed down fairly quickly and was confident and enjoying herself very quickly as well. Though she didn't know what to make of the camera at first.
Once she decided the camera wasn't a threat she went to investigating everything in the hutch. Of the three, Dawn is currently the favorite of the lady of the house. As you can see below, Dawn saw fit
to investigate the side of the cage, and us in particular. She looked quite small in the cat carrier we transported her in because she had pressed herself into a corner, but she is actually quite a big girl as we saw when she started exploring and stretching out.

Even once we'd closed up the hutch and gone back to what we were doing, in my case moving rocks for a berm, Dawn kept watching curious about what we were doing. She just wanted to know at all times what was going on around her it seemed.

For a bit of scale, Dawn is currently stretching up almost two feet standing on her hind legs. She of all of the rabbits was most curious about her new environment, and what everyone was doing. As we will discuss in a future post we spent part of the day teaching the dogs to stay away from the underside of the hutches. By the end of the day they were fairly good about it, aside from with Dawn who would tease them mercilessly and popcorn around the cage. If she'd been scared of them she would have hidden in the back of the private area like our last girl, Sunny did.

This is a picture of Sunny, our Californian doe resting in the private area of the hutch. We aren't yet sure if she is shy and uncomfortable around other animals, or if she simply prefers the dark space due to her red eyes, which are very sensitive to light.
As you can see in this image, she did eventually come out to explore and eat. Unlike the others she didn't do it while the hutch door was open. She doesn't shy away from us when the hutch door is closed, but when it opens she so far has every time gone for her dark corner. Though this morning when I was doing health checks she didn't give any signs of distress. She did not however greet me the way the others did.
Of these first three, Sunny is definitely the least active, and least interested in what everyone else is doing. Despite her shyness and seeming nervousness, like the other two she wasn't concerned with the dogs, even when they did go under her hutch. I'm guessing this is due to having grown up on a farm with four dogs and knowing she is safe in the hutch.

And finally for scale, a picture of me standing next to the hutch. The hutch is designed so an adult can easily lean in to clean every inch of the cage without smashing their head or hurting their back. This cleaning and ease of use concern is balanced with allowing the rabbits as much room as is practical in a man portable hutch to move around, and have their own private space. The private space has been virtually unused by the rabbits other than Sunny though, so we will watch and see how they all behave.

In the next few posts we will be talking about she specifics of the hutch design, rabbit genetics, and training the dogs to leave the hutches alone.

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