2014 Angora Rabbit Litters Day 4

LilyDaughterLitterJan14 Day 4

It is day 4 and everyone is growing well.  You should check the nestboxes daily – kits can get into all kinds of trouble.  You need to count the kits to make sure that none of the kits has wandered into some corner of the box and gotten stuck.  You also need to check to make sure that strings of wool have not wrapped around any body part – kits have died or had legs amputated when the wool matts into strings and becomes a tourniquet or noose.

When you check your kits you might find that your previously sweet doe starts charging you, maybe even trying to bite.  This is her protective instincts kicking in.  It is a good sign – this means her hormones levels are high.  A mother who is protective is producing milk and caring for her kits.  This is the only time aggression is acceptable for an angora rabbit, but don’t worry – your sweet doe will return after the litter is weaned and her hormones return to normal.  In the meantime, to lower the does stress levels and prevent being bitten you need to either remove the doe or the nestbox from the cage when you check the babies.  I find that the does are calmer when you remove the nestbox.

I use drop nestboxes (the does are less likely to have kits or the wire and any kits that accidently get out can crawl back in).  I used to line my boxes with cardboard and throw away the liner after each litter but there was a number of problems with it – I could not remove the nestbox, the does did not like the cardboard and would constantly toss it out of the box, and it did not provide insulation.  The final straw was when I lost an entire litter when the doe dug to the bottom of the box and had her litter on the wire at the bottom.  This started my quest for the perfect system – it had to be useable with my drop boxes, reusable (and sterilizable), and provide both drainage and insulation.

NestboxThis year I am using these plastic wash bins with slight modifications.  I drilled many holes at the bottom to allow drainage.  The lip of the basin is larger than the opening of my drop nestboxes but smaller than the wire box itself which allows me to fill in the gaps at the bottom and sides with hay – even if the doe has her litter at the bottom or against a side, the kits still have an inch of hay between them and the outside which gives me time to find them and move them to a better spot. They are easily removable and will be able to be sterilized.  So far they are working out well. My only concern is that babies that get out of the nestbox might not figure out how to get over the half inch lip.  I’ll have to watch and see.