Friday, February 27, 2009

Day 13: Here's Looking at You Kid

The bunnies have their eyes open now! Yesterday, most of them had their eyes open -- I think only three didn't -- and now they can see the world. They're starting to hold their ears up too and look a lot more like genuine bunnies now. instead of manatees (which is what they looked like before).

It was freakishly warm yesterday and that gave me a good chance to clean out everyone's cages. I put Genevieve and Andy in the outdoor cages out back, but Kate insisted on holding all eight bunnies in her lap while I cleaned. Pat Maley says that handling the bunnies will help them to be tame and I don't let her do it more than half an hour a day.

There's one little bunny that I'm sort of worried about -- and, surprisingly, it's not the runt, who seems to be thriving in a skinny sort of way on Kate's affection. This little bunny has a crusty place on his head and his right ear looks like there's a wound on it. It may be just left over gunk from the birth ... but I'd hate to think he's been injured.

Some of the others have a little bit of flakey skin especially on their heads. It seems to be around where their ears were close to their heads. I hope it's just normal skin flaking like human babies have -- not a mite infestation.

I may try my hand at sexing the little buggers today. Pat suggested marking them with a magic marker so we can tell them apart. It apparently won't hurt them and will eventually wear off. I thought it was a stroke of genius, but they're so dark I'm not sure where I can mark that would show up.


Later: I marked their ears with a non-toxic magic marker in blue, red and green. No luck on sexing them, though. They all look like boys to me and that would defy the laws the probability. Does anyone have any tips for sexing baby rabbits? The pictures in "Completely Angora" aren't helping me much.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day 7: The bunnies get a nestbox modification

Thanks to Lisa and Annette, I may be able to sleep tonight. Lisa suggested adding a lip to the lower edge of the nestbox so that the bunnies can't get out so easily. So, I added a lip with some cardboard and packing tape. The only questions are (A) whether Genevieve will eat it or tear it up and (B) whether she'll get in the nestbox with the cardboard on there. I don't see why she wouldn't ... there's plenty of room for her. We'll see if this solves the problem.
The bunnies are so adorable. They're getting bigger every day and, despite their jumping out of the nestbox, they seem to sleep all the time. I got a couple of cute pictures of them today.

This is for Annette

The two bunny cages are the 30" x 30" self contained units (with a pan under them, non-stacked) that I got from Bass. They're sitting on the workbench in my garage with a small heater sitting betweeen them. Genevieve has a heated water bottle, hence the cord.
I put boards around three sides after the first one got out and was rescued, but I wasn't sure how to secure the front edge because it juts out from the workbench ledge about 3 -4 inches. After yesterday's small tragedy, I put cardboard all around the front and tied it on with twist ties. Last night I bought some hardware cloth and metal shears, as Lisa suggested, but I don't have time today to put that up.
I just went out to take these pictures and ANOTHER ONE was on the wire. He was okay, not too cold, and I popped him back into the nest. I really can't be checking on these guys every ten minutes though ...
I got the nestbox from Bass, too. It's the second to largest size and the lower edge is 4 1/2 " high. The nest itself goes all the way down to the bottom board, otherwise I would think there was too much hay and fur in there and that they're sitting up too high on it. Maybe there are just too many babies and they're climbing on each other and falling out.
If I was sure Genevieve would nurse them if I took them out to her twice a day, I would bring the nestbox in and put it into a deep cardboard box. That way, if one of them decided to take a hike it would at least be in warm air, not frigid garage air. Also, I would probably notice the problem sooner.
Thanks for taking a look and being willing to help analyze this problem. Maybe the babies are hyperactive! So far, they're seven days old and three have fallen out of the nestbox.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sad news ...

Today we have sad news to report about the bunnies. Although I blocked three sides of the cage with boards, one of the little chocolate bunnies climbed out of the nestbox, wriggled out of the cage front, and fell to the floor. He apparently survived the fall only to freeze to death on the garage floor. I buried him in the back yard just now. Poor little thing. I'm going out to block the front of the cage with cardboard until a more permanent solution can be put in place.

Day 5: Bunnies are hopping (sort of)

Here are the baby bunnies on day 5. Aren't their new coats sleek and glossy? You can see the runt on the right at the middle facing left. He's skinny and about half the size of the largest bunny, but he seems to be okay so far. Lisa warns me that there may be something inherently wrong that may cause him to ultimately fail, but so far so good.
Even though we don't really see it happening, Genevieve must be nursing them pretty well. Most of them are fat and active. One of them actually hopped yesterday. He put his two back feet together and thrust straight up. They're all such prodigies!
Lisa agrees with Annette that they look like they're all either chocolate or lilac. No blacks. :(
It's ironic that I should get a nestfull of chocolates when I'm specifically trying to avoid the brown and red colors. But they're all beautful babies and I'm sure the chocolates will be lovely.
Maybe we should name them after chocolates: Godiva, Fanny Mae, Russell Stover, Whitman, Lindt and Hershey. Yum! Makes me hungry.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day 4: The escape

At a whopping 4 days old, one of the little gray bunnies had an adventure.

After school, the girls and I brought the babies in for their daily counting and status check. When we got them all out of the nest, we realized that one of the gray ones was missing. In a panic, I ran back out to the garage to see if he had somehow gotten out and into the cage. But, no, he wasn't in the cage. I found him OUTSIDE the cage, next to the heater, and mercifully still alive.

He was clearly frantically hungry and rooting on anything in sight, so we got Genevieve out and tried our trick again of making her nurse him (and we gave the runt an extra meal too, even though Genevieve was less than enthusiastic). Now everyone is warm and snug and happy in the nest.

This evening I put up some boards around three sides of the cage so they can't get out again ... at least not on three sides. The front hangs off the edge of the shelf and has the door in it, so I'm not sure how to block it effectively. Genevieve didn't seem too happy about the boards as it was. I guess I'll just have to hope they don't try going out the front until I think of a solution.

I suppose they're only going to get MORE active as time goes on. When I counted them a few minutes ago, several of them jumped almost spasmodically. I wonder if that's typical for baby rabbits. Sort of a reflexive jumping?

No pictures today. They look pretty much the same as yesterday. I think they're more active though -- witness the gray one getting out of the cage! :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day 3: Bunnies with ears

This is Day 3 of the bunnies. They look very much like they did yesterday, but a little bigger and their ears are more separate from their bodies. They look more like rabbits. There seem to be three gray ones and six chocolate ones. I can't believe there aren't any blacks. Maybe it's too early to tell though. One of the chocolates is absolutely huge. He must be taking more that his fair share of milk.

Another one is very small and looks like he hasn't nursed at all. I prepared the girls for nature to take its course, but they wanted to do something for the poor little thing, so I let them bring in Genevieve and see that the little fellow had a good meal. Pat Maley was telling me about a doe of hers that refused to nurse and how they would hold her in their laps and put the babies under her. It seemed to have worked for our little runt. He got a little nursing anyway.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The bunnies: Day 2

It's day 2 of bunny watch and even in one day they seem to have changed a lot.

Three of them are a very shiny silver color and the rest look dark brown now. I wonder if any of them will be blacks?!

They all seem active and healthy. There's one fairly small one, but it seems to be okay. One of them had clearly been fed recently to judge by his bulging tummy. Not all of them were bursting with milk, but I guess we just have to trust that they'll get a share sometime.

When the girls got home from school we all washed our hands and then brought the nestbox inside to check the bunnies. The girls love to hold one in their hands for a few minutes, and I don't suppose it hurts anything as long as they stay warm. We didn't keep them away from their mother for more than 10-15 minutes.

Lisa and Annette have been extremely helpful with advice and cyber-hand-holding. Thank goodness Lisa told me to expect Genevieve to lose her appetite for a couple of days or I would be worried sick. She ate a little bit of banana out of my hand this morning, but she hasn't finished her kibble at all. Annette reassured me that Genevieve will nurse the bunnies -- even if I never see it happen. Thanks, guys!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Genevieve's bunnies have arrived! NINE (9) fat wrinkled hairless little wigglers!

I've been checking on her every couple of hours. I checked at 7 a.m., nothing, but she had started to frantically pull wool (at last).

At 9:00, there was still nothing.

At 11:00, I went out to check and she was sitting beside the box licking herself. I didn't see anything at first, but then I noticed that the nestbox was full of wiggling babies! There were none born on the wires, to my great relief, and she was showing no signs of cannibalism, to my even greater relief. They all look the same color and I think they're all going to be black. We probably won't be able to tell them apart!

Because her fur is so long (my fault, mea culpa, mea culpa), I knew we had to cut up the fur she had pulled so the babies won't get strangled with it, so we took the nestbox into the house and pulled all the long fur off the babies and made sure they were warm and happy. I snipped up all the wool and put it back in and removed the placenta and any bloody hay or wool.

The girls are thrilled with the little guys. Ally took two and held them inside her robe to be sure they were warm enough. The rest of them, we wrapped and covered with a towel all together while I was cleaning the nest and snipping the long wool. I put the little buggers back into the box full of snipped wool and took it back out to the garage. We have a small heater blowing heat into Genevieve's cage. Kate has been checking on them every few minutes.

The second picture shows the nestbox with its wealth of fur and all the little bunnies are hiding in it. You really can't see them anymore, but if this was a video, you would see the fur moving.

Genevieve appears to be completely indifferent to them ... other than maybe a certain relief to have it all over with (or maybe I'm projecting ...). She sniffed the box thoroughly when we put it back in, but she's shown little or no interest in nursing the bunnies. My books say that nursing is a quick process for rabbits and just because you don't see it that doesn't mean it's not happening. I'm just concerned that with NINE (9) bunnies, some of them may not be making it to the dinner table. I guess we're just supposed to let nature take it's course ... but that's hard to do.

We're so happy and grateful that they arrived safely.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Is She or Isn't She?

Wednesday: Genevieve is still keeping us guessing about whether to expect little bunnies.

I put the nestbox in with her on Tuesday night. I put a paper bag on the bottom as a liner in case she tried to use it as a litterbox and filled it with hay. When I came back a few hours later, she had pulled the paper bag completely out of the box but somehow left all the hay in. Apparently, paper bags are not allowed in her nest. After that, she seemed mostly interested in eating the hay.

On Wednesday night, though, she got us all excited because she began to frantically run around gathering up huge wads of hay in her mouth and putting them in the nestbox. She's made a sort of circle in the hay now, but hasn't pulled any fur to line it. The circle goes all the down to the bare board floor of the nestbox. I'm not sure if I should add some hay or whether that would offend her. Theoretically, she's due on Saturday.

Friday: She IS! At least I'm pretty sure she is. I put her on the grooming table and gently put my hands under her and just sat there until she was calm and happy. In a little while, I began to feel little kicks. It was so much FUN! I ran and got Kate and she felt it too.

Saturday: Still no serious nest building. She's made a little circle in the hay, but hasn't pulled any wool and she's supposed to be due today. I decided to help her out and got a bag of her wool from the basement and chopped it into little pieces and put it in the nest.

Sunday: When I checked on her this morning, Genevieve was running around with a huge wad of fur in her mouth. It looks like she's going to build a nest after all.