Monday, March 5, 2012
kindling on a cold blustery night
Last night, right before bed I went outside to check on Serendipity our American Chinchilla rabbit, I knew she would most likely be kindling that night. I had given her a nest box 3 days before and helped her line it with soft hay, plus I gave her plenty of extra to work with for nest building. She's a first time mother, so I wasn't sure if she would know what to do. Yesterday I began to wonder why she hadn't pulled any fur to line the nest box, I checked her throughout the day.
First thing this morning I ran outside through the wind and rain to check on her, sure enough she had given birth to 6 kits. But not in the nest box, and she had pulled very little fur, they were all chilled to the bone, and she was sitting on one that had already died of exposure. I gathered them all up as quickly as I could and raced inside. Once inside I ran and grabbed two hats, doubled them up and put all the babies inside, warming them by the fire. I also filled a small bowl with very warm water, and submerged each one up to the neck to get warmth into them, and then softly rubbed the squeaking babies dry right beside the fire. It took my daughter Kaley and I an hour to fully warm them. In the end two of them had died before we brought them in, and four are all healthy and warm now, they're still all snug and sleeping soundly in the hat until I make them a special place for a nest.
I've been doing hourly checks on our Champagne d'Argent doe Hazel, due today or tomorrow. I don't want to lose any of her kits to exposure or the cold. She's also a new mother and doesn't appear to have good nest making skills, this is my first time breeding these larger rabbits, so we're on a learning curve I'm sure. The mini rex's that we've raised for years were the best little nest makers ever, they'd spend several days working on their nests and would pull huge amounts of fur to give their babies a soft, warm nest.
For now I'm going to set up a nursery inside the house and bring the mother in for feedings, we'll put them outside when they have fur and it warms up a bit in a few weeks. I may have to do the same for the other rabbit if her mothering instincts don't kick into gear soon. It's always easier for the newborn animals when it's warmer, or at least isn't so cold and windy. For now I'll be running out to check on Hazel throughout the day and may just bring her inside to give birth.
Have any of you had this happen with your rabbits? I'm not sure what the right thing to do is, maybe I should pull fur from the mother rabbit and make a nest and put them back outside with her. For now, I just want them to stay warm and alive close by where I can check on them regularly.
Tuesday morning update, after keeping the kits by the warmth of the fire in the house for 7 hours, they woke up hungry! I had been watching the mother rabbit and can you believe this, she pulled her fur and made a nest after the fact, and seemed to be looking for her newborns.
After much thought, I decided to take them back out to her in the hat I donated to them, I rolled the sides down so they could stay inside their cozy spot. Once back in their cage, I put them in her nest and put fur over them. The mom jumped in the box several times, sniffed them, and then I watched her begin to nurse them!! just like that, it made me so happy! In this instance letting nature take it's course worked out. I checked on them several times throughout the night, since I'm on watch for the other new mom anyways. Everyone is doing good!