Yes, even more birth surprises... And they are still not about me!
So, Sierra is outside checking on the all the rabbits and she screams out that the momma to the first litter, Mary, has picked up one of her four week old bunnies with her mouth and shook it. She also pointed out that there was freshly pulled hair in the cage and she thought the momma might have pulled some of the hair from the little bunnies.
Now we are not expert bunny raisers, so everyday is a new day around here with these little creatures. Cody and the kids decide they want to move the four week old babies to another cage to seperate them from the mother. I quickly run into the house and google when to seperate the mother from the babies, because we do not want her harming them, of course. I come back out tell them that what I have found says that they usually need to stay with their mother for about eight weeks. Comments are going on amongst us all about the hair pulling. I am telling Cody that it is possible that she bred with the male the day the other litter was born, since the bunny birth was a total surprise and we are not sure how long he was still in there after the babies were born. And the timing woud be 29 days and that is pretty darn close to the 30 day estimated gestation for rabbits. I also point out that Mary (momma rabbit) is stretched out and breathing heavy like the day the other momma rabbit (Patches) had her babies. Of course, Cody is rolling his eyes at the ridiculousness of this all... and I admit I was only speculating at the mere possibility. I did not really think it could all be so. We decide that for now we will keep Momma with her four week old babies, so they move her to the cage that they had just moved those babies to. They fluff it full of hay pull some weeds from the yard that the rabbits love to munch on. We leave them all as a bunch of happy, frolicking rabbits. All the four week old rabbits are having a "hay day" digging around in the hay.
Fast forward about one hour or less. I had gone in and was reading more online about rabbit care and once again we hear a scream from outside (the back door was open). This time the scream was from Savannah stating that she thought there was a newborn dead baby rabbit in the cage. Everyone came running and to our surprise there was a tiny little baby rabbit lying in the middle of the cage still enclosed in the amniotic sac. Cody tried to help it, but it was cold and lifeless. Inside the nesting box I reached in to feel the warmth of 5-6 warm little bodies surrounded by hay and freshly plucked fur from their momma. We are in amazement!
So, back the momma, Mary, goes into her original cage and we move the nesting box full of new babies into the cage with her. The four week old babies are officially being seperated from their momma. I am so glad they are thriving and doing so well. I did come back in to find that the article I was reading when Savannah screamed did go on to say that baby rabbits can be weaned and seperated from the mother as early as 4-5 weeks. And that is a good thing, because I don't think we have any other option.
So, let's recap.....
We started with one female rabbit, Patches. We added one male and one female from two seperate litters, Mary and Peter. These two stayed together because we thought they were too young to breed. ;) We discovered 4 weeks and one day ago that we were wrong and arrived home from church to find 6 baby bunnies. Apparently, we now know that some breeding went on that day, as well. We moved Peter in with Patches, since we only had two cages at this time. We totally were prepared for the possibility of more babies in thirty days; however, were surprised to find Patches laboring only two weeks later in the middle of the day. Peter then had to move to a dog kennel temporarily when Patches birthed her 12 (later lost 2). And today we once again had another birth from Mary and for now I am going to estimated the birth at 7 with one loss making it 6 living.
Here's the math....
+ 1 Patches (female)
+ 2 Mary (female) & Peter (male)
+ 6 Mary's first birth
+12 Patches' first birth
- 2 Patches' losses
+ 11 Mary's second birth
- 1 Mary's loss
29 Total Rabbits (Revised Total... There were more babies than we originally thought in Mary's second birth.)