We’re on rabbit watch, day 3.
I don’t mean to get so involved in Duchess’s birthing process, but it’s her first litter and, well, I get excited when there are baby bunnies floating around!
Duchess is not cooperating. I put more alfalfa hay on the floor of her cage in hopes she’d gather it up and put it in her nestbox… she didn’t.But she did enjoy her tasty snack!
I’ve spent the last two days searching the internet for information on how you can tell your rabbit is about to give birth. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Every rabbit has a different gestation length. The average length of a rabbit pregnancy is 31 days, although the range is 28-35 days. Let me tell you, the difference between 28 and 35 days is a l o n g time when you’re checking your rabbit every few hours!
2. Pulling hair is spontaneous. Some rabbits will pull their hair and prepare their nestbox several days in advance. This is a well-prepared, type-A rabbit. Then there are the free-wheeling, fun loving rabbits who pull their dewlap fur an hour before birth. Ellen of Sky Island Livestock told me she has does who will pull their hair as they are giving birth. Talk about procrastination!
3. I’ve got a bad attitude. Duchess is a sweet, shy rabbit. In the last week she’s been ridiculously jumpy and grumpy. When we put her next to a buck she began to growl and try to fight him through the cage wire (we quickly moved the buck to different quarters!). Today when I tried to give her our daily scratching she frantically hopping through her 4’x2.5′ cage like I was a demon after her soul. She is not herself. (Frankly, I’m not myself during the last bit of pregnancy, either!!)
4. Test mating might get you more than expected. We bred Duchess, then did a test breeding on day 12 to see if she was pregnant. Turns out the mating activity will stimulate one side of ovaries at a time – and the “test mating” recommended by so many people might actually trigger a second fertilization. Let me put it this way: a rabbit is capable of carrying two pregnancies, simultaneously! So there’s a chance Duchess is about to deliver a litter… and in two weeks she’ll deliver another! I’ll let you know how it goes.
5. When in doubt, send up a prayer and wait. The reality? I can do absolutely nothing to help Duchess right now. Once she births there’s a chance I can save the kits if she has them on the cage floor instead of the nestbox. Still, it’s a waiting game. Those babies will come when they want to come and I’m along for the ride. Patience, patience, patience. I’m developing this virtue!
Do you have any stories of first time rabbit deliveries?