It's been a disappointing few days in the Rabbit Raising department here in the Valley. On Thursday afternoon, I suspected the babies weren't being fed, but I really had no idea if that was true or not. The kits were still pretty active, peeping like only kits can do (baby bunnies make cute little squeaky noises) and since they only usually get fed once a day, it was quite likely that I was being a paranoid first time rabbit mom.
But by Friday morning, when I found one of them barely alive, and the rest pretty chilly, we knew that things weren't going so well.
First time Mama rabbits are pretty famous for screwing things up. Never expect anything from a first litter, is what I've been told. They don't have the babies in the nest (in which case they die from cold) or they don't feed them. Or they just plain eat them.
Makes me feel not so bad for all the silly things that I did my first time around!
Yesterday afternoon, me and our new roomie Jess went about getting the kits to feed. Feed from their Mama, who we picked up, snuggled on her back, and let the kits roam around her belly. We did the first go-round outside, and didn't have much luck getting any of them to do anything. They were cold and listless and not interested in much. I decided to leave the heating pad under their next box, so they could concentrate on just living, instead of having to stay warm too.
Later in the evening, we moved the whole operation inside, and gave a real college try to get the kits to feed.
Three of them were too far gone, so we sadly gave up on them.
Four of them gave a go at eating, some a little harder than the others.
This morning we were down to two, which honestly, is two more than I thought there would be.
Oh, who would have thought that this would all be so very difficult!
It was late this evening (in the dark) when we got around to feeding them again. We were thrilled to find two warm and active kits in the nest box! Mama wasn't too interested in being caught for her daily ritual, but relaxed right into it when we got down to business. The two kits scurried and rooted, and found their Mama's milk, and got down to filling their bellies, which they were quite successful at in the end! We put two satiated kits back in their nest and will cross our fingers till morning.
One of the reasons we decided to raise rabbits was that it was purported to be SO easy. SO easy, that is, when everything goes right. But when things go wrong, it's not terribly easy at all. Nor do I think it will be terribly easy when the time comes to send these little ones off to the freezer, after working so hard to save their lives.
However, its that working hard that makes me feel good about all this. What sort of treatment do you think these kits and this mother may have had in a high-output operation? Likely not what happened in the past 48 hours! We're doing our best to give these animals the greatest shot we can at a decent life. Knowing that we gave them that make me ok with it all. Makes me root for these little fighters just that little bit harder.
Go, bunny babies, go!