Memphis Backyard Farmer

Christmas Bunnies
January 3, 2013, 9:35 am
Filed under: Livestock, Rabbits, Urban Ag | Tags: , , , , ,

ImageMy last post on December 14th showed Ruby, my New Zealand doe, getting ready to have kits. I was a little surprised, because by my math (a rabbit’s gestation period is about 31 days) she was about five days early.

We really try to care for our mommas when they kindle, usually by packing a really large box full of straw/hay, and taking them inside for regulated temperature. I took her in the day after she started kindling but the day came and went with no babies. And the next day. And the next. I had almost given up on her when Christmas eve morning I walked in to discover four tiny little rabbits. This was the smallest litter she had birthed, but they were all warm and well fed. Ruby had made a tight little nest, even though we found during her extended stay inside, that she could escape from her cage, and kept wandering about the birthing room (my office), leaving hair everywhere.

Ruby seemed more nervous than usual this time. Even before she birthed, she had quickly chewed her way through the box we had her in, and kept wandering the office. We’d place her back in the box, barricade the hole, and hope for the best, only to find her wandering the next time we came to check on her. She also seemed more nervous around the kits. This is her second litter (we’ve had a total of three at the Scott homestead), and she was a bit rough on the kits in my opinion. On Christmas day I came in to find that she had escaped once again, and that at some time during the night one of the kits had been separated from the rest, and was squished up against the side of the nesting box, dead.

At that point, I moved Ruby to a full-blown cage and transferred the nest to a shallow cardboard box lid. Ruby has cared for them fine in her new cage (even though she managed to escape a few more times). But I don’t like the cage. Rabbit kits are quickly mobile, and at three days they were already climbing the sides of the lid, falling over the edge to the cage floor, their little feet getting stuck between the holes of the cage. As of today (day 9), they are making the climb, but I’ve also seen them climb back over, managing strictly by feel and smell (?), since they are only today beginning to open their eyes.


These are by far the most active of the 15 kits we’ve raised. They twitch when you barely touch them, even to the point of a crude hop when you pick them up. If you’re not careful, they will jump out of your hand. And it seems they’ve inherited their mom’s disposition; If I was raising show rabbits or pets, Ruby would have been culled long ago. I still have to convince my boys that she’s worth keeping because of the size of her kits. She’s temperamental, she scratches, she bites. I have already been bitten by one of the babies, and so has my 15-year old son (since we handle them the most, we’re more likely to incur their wrath). Again – it makes butchering them a bit easier later, but in the mean time, I’m hoping they’ll chill out. I’ve always attributed Ruby’s nasty temper to the fact that she was kept isolated in a barn until we bought her, with very little human interaction. Our last litter of kits were held often, and turned out to be as sweet as any animal could be. It will be hard to cull them when the time comes.


Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: