Dawn is just about ready to pop, and started nest building yesterday. She hasn't yet started pulling fur but that will come just before she gives birth. She isn't thrilled at me for having opened up the private area of the hutch to get photos, but she is fairly even tempered fortunately.
I decided to get a photo of the inside of the nesting area with a bit more detail so folks can see what is normal. Below the hay is cardboard which is what we have been using to keep the kits off the wire. It is abundant for us since we still haven't managed to get rid of all of the boxes from moving in over a year ago. Firmly in the pit falls of having a small car category.
Over the cardboard is all Dawn's doing. She usually devours all hay that comes anywhere near her as quickly as possible. I knew the time was coming when she started doing her grab all of the hay and bring it into the private area. At that point I picked up the hay, and put the cardboard under it. As you can see she has a solid layer of hay on the bottom, and a cup shaped nest in the back. Just before she has babies, she will fill that entire cup with her fur pulled from the dewlap on her neck. This is a good looking, solid nest that she has built, and I'm fairly confident that it will be warm enough if she gives birth over the weekend while the Lady of the House and I will be out at a convention. I suspect we will get home to babies that are over a day old, but we shall see. She might just have built a nest way early. Fortunately, Dawn is not one to soil her nest once it is built so that isn't as major of a concern as it could be.
Dawn's previous litter, now teenagers will be getting butchered out on Monday as I show a friend how kill and process a rabbit since she was curious. As you can see they have gotten quite big. I haven't been posting much about them or weighing them because as a litter they are much more fearful than any of the earlier litters. Observing them stresses them out, so I have done my best to minimize interaction with them so they can live as comfortably as they can. In the picture Above you can see one back in the far corner. That is the one that I think has caused this behavior. He for some reason is abjectly frightened of me, and people in general. So much so that when I went to pick him up to do a health check he started screaming. Now, rabbits scream when they are %100 sure they are being killed. It isn't a frivolous thing for them. I don't know why he is so frightened, but I do know that his reaction to everything has caused the rest of the litter to react in kind. It has been a bit frustrating, but not all of the babies are like he is. Above Right you can see a pair of them coming to investigate me as I take photos.
My major concern with this is obviously making sure that the killing isn't a horrific experience for them. My plan is to take the one who is scared %100 of the time, and kill him first because he seems like he is a panic amplifier. I am going to kill him myself so it is quick and clean so he doesn't scream and set everyone else off. If he does scream just from being picked up, I will let everyone else calm down and relax first so it is as minor of a trauma as possible.
Last night I butchered Teak/Delight out. She was the first rabbit that knew something was wrong before the bar was secure across the back of her neck. I felt somewhat bad about that, but I think she knew something was wrong all the time due to her teeth hurting. I'm glad we caught the teeth when we did, when we opened her up, her lungs had a large amount of blood in them. Due to her being older I stewed her as well, but tried a different recipe than I did with Sunburst.
1 adult rabbit dressed out into sections
1 large can chunky tomato sauce
1 small red onion
2 large (I mean large) carrots cut into half rounds.
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1 can black olives cut into quarters
Salt, Basil, Dill, Oregano, Chipotle to taste.
Put all of that into a large stew pot. Put in water until the liquid level is just below the top of the rabbit. Cover and simmer on low medium heat for 30 = 45 minutes until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Serve over rice or pasta. I think that this is in the category of stews that will taste better day 2. It wasn't bad day 1 but the flavors were a bit separate for my taste.