Christmas is always a busy time for our family. There’s certainly no reason to add extra excitement to that.
But why not go for it anyway?
On the 18th we noticed one of the female rabbits–Rhonda–pulling out her fur (and her mother’s fur) to build a best. The man we got them from had said that Rhonda had accidentally been left with one of her male litter mates so it wasn’t a complete surprise. However, after two and a half weeks with no visible signs of pregnancy, we had more or less decided that the stress of being moved to a new place had probably caused her to miscarry. But late on the 20th Rhonda’s nest started moving. After twenty minutes staring at the pile of fluff to be absolutely certain it wasn’t my imagination, I determined that there were, in fact, baby rabbits in the fluff.
So there were baby rabbits and everyone seemed pretty happy. Rhonda was being a good mom. She stayed friendly and wasn’t even upset about sharing a pen with her mom, Granny.
Then it started raining.
I remember floods when I was a little kid. Bridges down, roads out, towns wondering if levees will hold sort of floods It’s been so long since that kind of rain fell that I’d almost added it to my list of things that were just more impressive in my youth. The last few days have proved that theory wrong.
With the rain came increased trouble with keeping all of the animals warm and dry. The chickens and pigs were just fine in their sheds, but the rabbit pens had to be moved to higher ground. We moved the baby rabbits and their mother to high ground and hoped for the best. But the next day we woke up to find that the roof of the pen leaked and the nest had gotten wet. And since wet fur doesn’t hold warmth very well, the baby rabbits were crawling around the pen very unhappily. Messing with baby rabbits is a gamble. Theoretically, if the mother is used to you and your smell, she shouldn’t be too upset if you touch the babies. But rabbits can also be unpredictable mothers at times, especially in situations that are already stressful. The trouble was that we didn’t just need to mess with the babies, we needed to move Rhonda and them to a new pen altogether–one that was specially designed to have baby rabbits in it.
One of the babies was really, really tiny, less than half the size of the others. Two more were not as wiggly as I would have liked and two more were wet but seemed ok. We dried them off as well as we could, and set up a new hay nest for them in the new pen, gave them a hot water bottle for warmth, and coated everything in Rhonda’s scent for good measure.
Sadly, the little runt and the two who didn’t look so great didn’t pull through, but the other two are doing just fine and have started opening their eyes. Since we have had rain almost every single day, we’ve discovered that the new pen is quite waterproof, as well as being a very workable design that we will replicate for the other rabbits. We also have some insight on the “what we should’ve dones” for future reference. And for now, we have two fat, happy baby rabbits.