Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A new week after a rough week. Learning and moving on.

Well, last week didn't close out as well as we would have hoped, eventually losing the last of Dawn's litter. We lost two more on Friday, and the last baby on Saturday despite moving the last kit in with Twilight's litter. On the other hand Twilight's litter is doing quite well, and Twilight herself only checks on me rather than attacking me at this point so I no longer fear injury while trying to handle the kits.

The kits are moving around on their own.
On the up side with moving Dawn's kit Twilight wasn't a problem about us doing so, and indeed the kit had gotten food before it died, it just wasn't enough to pull it through after the difficult week it had. Our learning curve from this, don't hesitate to balance out litters when the one with fewer kits is doing just fine in terms of growth rate after a couple of days. It wouldn't have saved the ones that got caught in the wet, but at least we'd have had something left from Dawn's litter.

The second thing we learned, once a litter has gotten wet the chances of them making it are very slim. If we are going to give them the best shot we can we need to get them somewhere warmer than outside. To that end when I'm building the coop I'm building it to include rabbit hutches along one wall. That way if we breed and sudden crazy weather happens we can move the moms inside. It also means we can keep the bucks there in the summer so they don't get heat sterility again. It isn't something we could have done this time, but hopefully it is something we can prevent in the future.

Twilight isn't too happy about it.
The third thing we learned is we really really need to re site the hutches in the winter. I figured out that part of the reason Dawn's hutch had problems and no one else's did is she was in an area of snow fall off from the roof and that led to her hutch roof having masses of ice on it. That meant that it suffered way more from the snow than the others.

The fourth is that sometimes we can't make do with what we can afford, we really do need to do it right. Roofing is an example of that. If her hutch had a proper roof on it rather than plywood which usually works fine, she and her kits would have been fine. We might have lost one or two more but we wouldn't have lost all ten of them.

But they do go back in their nest on their own.
 I think that if we'd had a more sheltered location, or a roof, or her hutch hadn't been in a roof fall zone we'd have been fine. Unfortunately all three were true and we lost her litter. Fortunately she herself is ok, though she was distressed when the litter died, and tried to bodily prevent me from removing the nest. Even once I had she made a new nest for a couple days in a row after before giving up. We will be breeding her at the same time as her daughters in a couple weeks when Halley and Comet are all set to go.

Speaking of Halley and Comet, we had our first escaped rabbit on Friday morning. In an odd way it was a positive thing, and cheered me up. How can an escaped rabbit running free in the woods behind her hutch be a good thing? Well, I managed to catch her within 30 minutes using no traps, and never running. In fact, she came up to me. This was the result of socializing our rabbits every day. I figured out within seconds that standing up fully scared Halley, I suspect because she isn't used to seeing me from that angle. Once I realized that wouldn't work I discovered that I can in fact still duck walk despite being ten years older than last time I did much of it. I reasoned that would put me at about the level she is used to. I duck walked around after her for half an hour, and every 5 minutes or so she came over and nudged my hand with her nose to check in, just like we do every morning. The sixth time she came close enough that I could reach out and grab her safely. She's a bit wary of me at the moment, but still comes up every morning when I feed them to nose me, so I think we're ok.

So it was a hard week for us, but at least we know how we are raising the rabbits ends up with them happy enough with us to come check in even when there's a fascinating world out there for them to look at.


  1. I'm glad your capture went well! That's far more controlled (if not actually calm) than I've ever been. (There's nothing quite as later-funny but now-not-funny as three adults in surgical-style gowning scrabbling on hands and knees after a mouse. Yes, we were inseide, but there are enough places to hide that he might have gotten away forever.)

    I'm glad that Twilight accepted Dawn's kit. Having a good foster mom is really useful. And a bad foster is just terrible.

    I hope your next litters turn out better!

    1. Thank you for the well wishes for the next litters! I suspect with the warm May days and above freezing nights they should be ok.

      I'm just imagining a mad scramble of lab techs trying to out pace the rapidly moving mouse. I'm always kind of amazed how fast rodents can move when they set their mind to it.