The first litters of 2014 are in the nestbox! The doe who produced the litter below had an amazing 14 healthy kits! This is the largest litter I have had. Unfortunately if I had left them all with their doe I doubt they all would have made it. I have had a doe raise 11 kits but it is hard on the doe and it takes a while for the kits to catch up in size to those of a more normal sized litter. This is why I usually breed two does at the same time. Since one doe had a smaller litter I just moved 5 kits to her nestbox. This first week a doe will readily adopt extra kits of a similar age. Redistributing kits to get more even litter sizes gives all the babies the best chance of survival.
If you are trying to figure out what colors you have in your nestbox – in the above picture the pink kits are REW, the darker kits are black and chestnut (kits with a pink belly and pink ears are agouti- a black agouti is chestnut), the two lighter grey kits to the left are opal and blue (the opal is the one with the pink ears, blue agouti is opal) and the two brown/grey kits at the bottom are likely chinchilla (chinchilla gene with agouti). So, clockwise from the REW kit at the top we have REW, Chestnut, REW, Black, Chestnut, Chinchilla, Chinchilla, Opal, REW, Chestnut and a Blue kit in the middle. As they develop and grow fur they will look very different.
The next ten days are the some of the most hazardous in their lives. Kits are born blind and hairless. These new moms have only instinct to guide them to nurse and care for their kits. Many new moms lose their first couple of litters due to inexperience. If the kits make it to ten days old their chances of survival increase significantly.
These kits are off to a good start – their mom created a good nest for them and had them in her nest. I am hoping to see full bellies tomorrow!