Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Selling Out

I made the tough decision to sell out my rabbitry completely. Unfortunately, our three year old daughter, Corinne, is very allergic to my bunnies. This wouldn't have been a problem a year ago, but we have since turned the old bunny barn into an office and the bunnies have been in a room in our basement. With our heat pump blowing the dander all around the house, it has been difficult for Corinne. I hope that someday when we are moved into our new house I will be able to begin breeding again.

I have met many wonderful rabbit breeders over the past 5 years. I am keeping my web site up and I'll still be answering e-mails and updating my site. My last litter was born a couple of weeks ago. I am enjoying the little kits, especially since it is my final breeding. They will be ready to go at the end of September.

I plan to take in rescues from time to time, but I can't have more than a few rabbits since they won't be able to stay inside the house.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rabbitry Updates

I haven't posted in a while and thought I'd give a quick update. Things have been busy at Riddle's Bunny Barn. My husband recently took over the bunny barn and created his office. My bunnies are staying in our basement until we are able to sell our house. Actually, I think they are very happy there and it is much less stressful for me. I don't have to worry about the temperature of the bunny barn and they seem to love it. I miss my bunny barn, but I have big plans for when we move. I love dreaming about my new bunny mansion. With the housing market the way it is, I don't expect our house to sell quickly, but I do hope that we make the move before the end of 2010.

My new litters have brought me so much joy. The F3 BEW DM (Blue-Eyed White Double Maned) lionhead litter are all maturing into very nice bunnies. I decided to keep two of them - a buck and doe to breed into my other bunnies. I also made a big decision to purchase a new DM purebred blue lionhead. He is going to be absolutely perfect for my breeding program. I really can not thank Terri from Slatehill Rabbitry enough for selling him to me. This was a sort of long time coming yet spur of the moment decision that could not have been planned out better. He has everything my rabbits lack and might even carry the vienna gene. I'm dying to breed him to Pearl to see what they produce. I will be counting down the days to their first litter.

Trista is bred to Silverado again and I'm hoping to see something other than Chestnuts VMs in this litter. I do think the Chestnut VMs are very cute, but they should also produce black and possibly orange and tort. I like to see a little variety from Trista's litters. Mooie, my holland lop, is also bred to Silverado and I'm very interested to see how their kits turn out. They will be Lionlops which are a mixed breed rabbit just the same as a Labradoodle, Maltipoo or similar dog and they can never be purebred unless they become a true breed. They are very cute, though. This litter is more experimental since I wasn't planning to breed Mooie, but she had other plans...

I am trying very hard to just keep the bare minimum number of rabbits possible until we are moved, but I can see that this is going to be very hard for me. I love planning and am already looking forward to breeding offspring that haven't even been born yet. I am so close to excellent quality PB DM BEW lionheads that I am getting super anxious.

Well, that is all for now. I hope to post some more useful information soon.


Monday, March 2, 2009

My Pet Bunny Had Babies! Help!!

My Pet Bunny Had Babies! Help!!
What do I do?

Is the father still in with the mother and babies? If so, stop reading this and separate them now! Then come back and continue to read.

Maybe you purchased two "female" bunnies (does) at a pet store and one was actually a male (buck) or maybe your bunny was already pregnant when you got her. Whatever the case, it is a big shock to look in the cage and see hair everywhere and a cluster of squeeking little bald mice.

Making a Nestbox
First of all, is the mom doing a good job? Is the nest good enough or do you need to help rebuild one for her? Unless the mom is indoors and has built a very nice nest, you will more than likely need to give her a nestbox and create a nest for the babies. If the nest is inadequate, promptly remove the babies (kits) from the cage and place them temporarily in a warm area or in an opened container with paper towels underneath them. Since you were not planning this, you probably do not have a rabbit nestbox handy. You can make one with a cardboard box and tape. Depending on the size of the mom, you should use a box just big enough for her to sprawl out in. One of the narrow flaps should be cut out and an opening should be created. Take a look at the picture of one I made.Next you should fill the box with timothy hay and make a little nest at the back of the nestbox by creating a hole in the hay. You can stuff some of the mother's hair in the hole and create a cozy nest for the kits. Put the warm kits into the nest you have just created and then cover them with remaining hair. If the mother did not pull hair or has not pulled very much, you may need to pull some from her yourself. The hair should be loose, so it should be easy to do. Just hold the mom on your lap and pull hair from her abdomen. This is necessary to expose the teats for nursing and to create the nest. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, you can first put the nestbox back in the spot where you found the kits and see if the mom pulls hair and covers them herself.

Nestbox Tips
To avoid the possiblity of the nestbox being moved or knocked over, you can keep them in place with a couple of bricks around the outside. The nestbox should be in a corner, so two bricks should work well.
You can also tape the box to the cage. I have used duct tape and just removed it when I need to take the nestbox out of the cage.

Warming Kits
If the kits are cold to the touch or appear to be dead, you can attempt to revive and warm them up by floating them in warm water. To do this, I take a large bowl of very warm (not hot) water and put each kit in an opened sandwich baggie and let them float around in the bowl for up to 20 minutes. Over the years, I have revived dozens of kits this way. You will need to keep the water very warm, so you may want to use a couple of bowls and move the babies between the two bowls adding new water as it cools. Do not get the kits wet. Once the kits are moving around really well and are warmed, put them back in the nestbox.

Nursing Kits
The mom will nurse them twice per day. But it may take her a day or two to start. She will usually only go into the nestbox to nurse the kits and that will be early morning and evening. If she has nursed them, the kits will have full round bellies. If the bellies are wrinkled and small, they have not been nursed.

If she has not nursed them by the end of the second day. You will need to force her to nurse the kits. You can do this a couple of ways. The best way is to put a blanket or towel down on your lap and hold the mom on her back and allow the kits access to the teats. This will need to be forced and the mom may protest. If you are unable to do it this way, you can also hold her still on your lap in an upright position and put the kits underneath her belly and let them find the teats. This works best if you put the mom's hind legs on your left leg and hold her by the scruff of her neck with your left hand. Once the kit latches on, it usually only takes less than a minute for them to fill their bellies. If you see nice round bellies, they are done.

Once they have nursed, wipe their bottoms good with a warm moist cottonball or q-tip. This should allow them to urinate. They will probably urinate right into the cottonball. It is very important to do this every time they nurse. Hopefully you will only need to do this one time and then mom will take over from there.

If you feel she is not doing her job or that she is trying to hurt the kits, you will need to do this twice per day (morning and night) and the nestbox will have to be permanently taken from her cage and placed in a warm safe place. There is no formula that you can buy or make that will keep the kits alive and healthy.

Opening Eyes
The kits will open their eyes between day 9 and day 12. It usually happens on the 10th day. If their eyes are not opened by the 12th day, gently wipe them with a cottonball of saline solution a couple of times per day. It is possible there could be an eye infection. If you see puss or a discharge coming from the eye, you can get some terramycin ointment and apply it 3 times per day for 10 days or visit your vet. I get terramycin online and it is around $10 for a tube without a prescription. They also sell it at local farm stores.

Removing the Nestbox
You can take the kits out of the nestbox at around day 15. I never leave them in any longer than day 18. If their eyes are open and they are already hopping out of the box, I would just remove the nestbox , give them a solid area to stand on if they are in a wire cage and provide plenty of hay.

They will also start to nibble on some pellet food and hay as soon as they leave the nestbox. Make sure the water source is within their reach and that they do not eat any treats, nuts, fruits or fiesta mix types of diet. The rabbit feed should be alfalfa-based and pellet only with a protein content of at least 16%. I use Manna Pro or Manna Gro with equally good results. They should continue with this food until they are around 5 months old and then they can switch to a timothy-based pellet diet and treats, fruits, etc can be added. Timothy hay should be given in unlimited quantities while they are growing. Even though the kits will start eating a little at two weeks of age, they shouldn't be separated from their mom until they are at least 6 weeks old. They will continue to nurse until then.

If you have separated the kits from the mom and are hand nursing them, you can offer them pellets, hay and water after their eyes open. You can then stop nursing at 4 weeks of age.

Pregnant Again
Remember I asked if the dad was still in with the mom? Mom is most fertile within hours of kindling (delivering) and if the dad was still in with her it is very likely that she is pregnant again. This means that when her current litter is only 4 weeks old, she will make another nest and kindle again. If you suspect this is a possibility, 27 days after her litter was born place a new nestbox in her cage and give her plenty of hay. If she starts to build a nest and pull hair, you will need to remove her kits from the cage and wean them early. They will be alright once they are 4 weeks old. It is not recommended to wean them that early, but as long as the litter stays together until they are 8 weeks old they shouldn't get too stressed. If the mom is building a new nest and pulling hair, I recommend that you go out to a farm store and buy "Calf Manna." This will help her to produce enough milk for her second litter (so quickly after her first) and will give her extra energy - she will need it. You can give her a few pellets every day. It is good for all nursing does.

Sexing the Kits
At around 2 weeks of age some breeders are able to sex the kits. I can usually sex them sometime between 2-3 weeks. The does will have a slit and the bucks will have a circle that looks like a cheerio. It is very hard to tell if you do not have experience sexing them. Most vets are unable to sex them at this age. Bucks testicles don't descend until they are around 3.5 months old. The difficulty of sexing kits is possibly why you have this unexpected litter. I would recommend that you find a local breeder from www.arba.net and ask them if you can take the kits to them to find out the sexes. Also ask how confident they are in their ability to sex the kits and at what age they can do it well. Don't rush it. Just be sure that you have sexed them properly before they are 12 weeks old or have gone to a new home. You will need to separate them by 12 weeks of age to avoid unwanted litters.

If you need help finding homes for your bunnies, try hoobly.com or local ads in a paper. You can also contact a local breeder for help. Please do not take them to a pet store. They may end up pregnant again and then someone else will be in your situation. Good Luck!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Friend For Bunny

Does your bunny need a friend?

Yes! - You!

In the wild, rabbits are social animals and enjoy the company of their families. In captivity, rabbits usually do not have the space required to be housed together.

Rabbits are very territorial by nature and require their own living space. There are ways to alter their natural behavior. If you spay or neuter your rabbit, there is a fair chance that you will be able to bond the rabbit with another one. It does n0t work 100% of the time, but if both rabbits are altered the chances are good.

Sometimes two unspayed does from the same litter or two does bonded at a very young age (less than 8 weeks) will remain close enough that they will share a living space. Two dominant does will not. If you separate the does for even a short time that may be enough to break the bond. It will be impossible to predict the compatibility of two does until they are full grown.

Two bonded rabbits are very cute to see, but understand that this is not usually natural. They usually have to be spayed/neutered to remain together and even then there may be some fighting. The cost can be pretty high as well. It can cost $400+ to have 2 rabbits altered.

Rabbits can be just as happy bonded to you. This way they can have their own living space full of toys to play with and still have you as a friend to play with from time to time. Since they are territorial, bunnies are quite happy to live in their own space provided they are given plenty of play toys to keep them from boredom. If you do have two bonded rabbits, they will not look forward to spending as much time with you, because they will already have a friend.

Do not expect that your rabbit will always easily accept you as their friend. It may still be best to spay/neuter your rabbit to allow them to easily bond with you. However, it is easier for your rabbit to bond with you than with another rabbit. With a little patience, you will end up being your bunny's best friend.

Springtime All Year Round

I have been very lucky with breeding my rabbits. When I first started breeding rabbits, I think my luck was purely accidental. I have learned much since then and realize the importance of heat and light if you want to have an easy time breeding rabbits year round.

Rabbits naturally breed in the Spring when the days get longer and the weather warms up. I have found that by giving my rabbits 14+ hours of artificial light and keeping the temperature between 55-7o degrees my rabbits are willing to breed 99% of the time.

Keeping the bucks and does in the same room also helps to keep the does willing. I think they can communicate to each other in their own way.

Many breeders have troubles getting their rabbits bred at some point. There are many people who think rabbits will breed anytime, but conditions have to be favorable. If you try to set up your rabbitry so that it is always springtime you shouldn't have any troubles.

You should also be sure to breed does as soon as they have stopped growing and are mature (usually between 5-8 months of age). If you wait any longer, I've found they are less likely to be good breeders. All of my best brood does had their first litter when they were 6-7 months old and all of my worst ones were later starters (first litter around 7-10 months of age). They must have their first litter before they are 1 year old or they could have troubles kindling.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bath for Bunny?

Full baths are never recommended for rabbits unless they are caked with mud or a dangerous substance like gasoline. It is very rare that a bunny will need a bath. Bathing your bunny is sometimes very dangerous.

Rabbits clean themselves very well and they will take care of small spots of dirt in their own time. I've had some white bucks that don't clean their face very well and occasionally I will have to give them a spot bath. I use a spray bath made for bunnies. You can also use a powder bath.

PLEASE do not get your bunny completely wet unless they have rolled in the mud or it would be dangerous for bunny if you do not clean him. A rabbit's fur takes a long time to get soaked in the wild and takes just as long to get dry. They are not made for getting soaking wet. Rabbits get too stressed when they are wet and can go into shock, have a heart attack or die from illness after getting cold/wet if not thoroughly dried.

If you bunny has a poopy butt (usually younger rabbits), you can either cut the fur around the anus or if that isn't enough then clean the area with a warm wet sponge. Be sure to always dry wet areas quickly with a hairdryer on low.

If your bunny is constantly getting dirty, you might need to look at his cage. If you are using a solid bottom, you may need to switch to a wire bottom to keep bunny clean. The litter box might need to be changed more often. You might need to clean the urine guards or feeder more often.

"But my bunny likes to get a bath." Did your bunny tell you that? Remember bunnies usually get very still when they are nervous. Just because he is not protesting it does not mean that he is enjoying it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Litter Box Training

Rabbits are usually surprisingly easy to litter box train.

Rabbits can be litter box trained at any age, but it is generally easier to train them once they are older.

Step 1: Wait until you can determine which area the bunny uses as his/her "potty". If you can't determine this yet, the bunny is too young.

Step 2: Place a litter box in that corner of the cage and fill it with bedding. I recommend wood pellet bedding. Add some of the droppings to the litter.

Step 3: Move the box if the bunny changes his/her potty corner. Usually they start using it right away.

It is pretty simple. The biggest mistake people make is putting the litter box in too soon and then it is usually used as a bed instead. If this happens, it is probably best to turn that litter box into a bed and buy a different one to be used as the potty. I've never had a bunny I couldn't train.

Not all litter boxes work for all bunnies. Some litter boxes are too shallow. If you find that there is urine close to the box but outside of it, then you may need to buy a box with higher sides. The bunny might he half in and half out of the box while eliminating.

As I said, I recommend wood pellet bedding to be placed inside the litter box. Cat litter is not safe if eaten and I've tried the scoopable litter designed for rabbits and it does not work well. The scoop does not catch the small pellets, so it has to be changed very often and it is very expensive.