Wake Up Call

Well, I had a “fun” time tonight learning to hand feed two-day old rabbit kits. I’m not sure what’s going on with Dandelion… I have left her litter in with her since they were born and she has not fed them once. A fed kit will have a silly, fat belly and an unfed kit will be obviously thin and very wrinkled. This just goes to show you how hard it can be to get a litter to that six-week safe mark.

This afternoon I flipped Dandelion onto her back in my lap and set two kits at a time at a nipple to get the kits to feed or at least maybe stimulate her milk production. It was so unsuccessful that I believe her milk has not come in yet. Since it had been 48-hours from birth, I decided to intervene this evening and fed them a half-belly full of an evaporated goats milk mixture using a syringe to help carry them over until she starts nursing. Last thing I need is a litter of kits too hungry and too weak to nurse. I lost two runts in Clementine’s litter last spring when they became too weak to nurse. It is so disheartening to watch a young one slowly go like that.

I just hope Dandelion gets her act together and starts feeding her litter! At least I have a weeks worth of canned evaporated goats milk on hand just incase I need to continue to supplement their feedings or even take over feeding entirely. That’s the last thing I want to do, but its better than loosing an entire litter to a bad mother. This is why it is so important to breed two does at once so you can foster kits to another doe. Too bad Blackberry and Philly were too young to breed. Hand-feeding kits has a pretty low success rate, but again– it’s better than zero.

Wish us luck!

12 thoughts on “Wake Up Call

    • Very few vets are trained on rabbits (as common of a pet as they may be). Some vets take a “small animal” course, but it mostly covers guinea pigs or rats (rodents) and rabbits (Lagomorphs) are quite different.

      That being said… I supply all of my nursing doe rabbits with oats and sometimes black strap molasses as soon as they deliver which helps to increase their milk supply. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be helping Dandelion’s milk come in. All we can do now is supplement the kits and hope her milk comes in within the next day or so.

      Rabbits don’t have to be hard and many people would say that they would “cull” (send her the the freezer or retire from breeding) her for being a bad mother, but she is currently my only rabbit that can pass on the color genes necessary for all the fun colors. So I tolerate her.

  1. Oh no! Praying for that darn Mama starts feeding her babies! And this really is a good testiment to having two does with kits at the same time! Although would one doe be able to handle that many kits? I wonder… Anyway, I hope they all make it until her milk comes in!

    • Since does will usually only feed a litter once a day, most people trick a “foster doe” by giving them litter A for a morning feeding and litter B for an evening feeding. Or if both litters are small, bunch them in together. That Dandelion gives me a lot of headaches.

  2. I hope everything works out. We’ve hand raised orphaned baby bunnies before, and I hand raised my chinchilla kits, and I know how hard it can be. : ( I pray her milk comes in soon and that all of the babies make it.

  3. Hope she is okay and it is not an unborn kit and leftover placenta stuck inside her. Is this a possible downside to breeding her earlier than you had originally planned? Just curious. Well wishes with feeding your babies!

  4. I am sorry for your troubles that you seem to be having. I am a little sympathetic to Dandelion who seems to be getting the blame for all this, blame seems suspect. I feel there are often reasons rabbits do not care for their young, and although there are many myths, they all still are based in reality. My first reaction when seeing the video was that they sure seemed over handle. Yes i know the mother rabbit will not reject babies because of other scents, but they will reject a NEST that does not smell of her own. A mothers inability to mother may start much earlier though. There are many reasons why Dandelion may not be up to this task at this point. I wish her and her babies well.

    • My rabbits are far from “overhandled”. Her nest smells like her with about 2 ounces of wool lining and covering it. I have treated this litter like all those before it… I check twice a day to make sure they are being fed and the only way to do that is to pull one out to look. It’s a good thing too because by now I would certainly have nine dead kits if I didn’t. Dandelion has had a litter before and fed them fine so I’m not sure what is going on this time. Rabbits are nothing if not inconsistent. All I can do is try my best to keep them alive and this is the best way I know how. Thanks for you comment.

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