The first month of a new kits life is very exciting. The eyes open, the kits get fur, and many other fascinating things. Check out this article to help prepare you for all the changes.
Does can kindle at any time during the night or day. Typically the doe will enter the nestbox facing the rear of the box. She will stay for several minutes and then exit the box. Upon inspection of the box, you may notice little kits moving around underneath the hay. Newborn kits look rather strange and somewhat comical. They are born without hair, and their eyes are closed.
Kits should be inspected as soon as the doe leaves the nestbox. They can be handled, but keep in mind that they are very wiggly and need lots of warmth.
The doe will feed the kits once or twice a day. The doe will enter the nestbox, typically face outward. Whe will only be in the box for a few minutes. Kits that are well fed will have a nice plump belly, and on close inspection you will actually see a white tint to their belly. During the first 24 hours the doe may not feed the kits.
Kits begin to get hair after just a couple of days, and by 1 week old, their color should be much more obvious. Their eyes will remain closed. The kits will probably double from their birth weight in the first week. Kits will begin to move around more during this time, and may on occassion leave the nestbox. It is important to place them back in the nestbox should they leave during the first week.
This is an exciting week. At 10-12 days the babies eyes will open. Should they not open by day 12, you can use a damp cloth on the eye lid and gently open the eye. Now that the kit can see, they will move in and out of the nestbox. The babies will begin to munch on hay, and may occassionally nibble on pellets. If you give mom treats like bananas, make sure your kits do not get them.
The does who had gotten into the nestbox to nurse the kits, will now be pursued by the kits. Often she will jump on top of the nestbox to avoid their constant desire to nurse. The kits may begin to drink out of a water bottle. To avoid the possibility of a kit accidentally drownding we do not use crocks with our new litters.
The kits will still spend a great deal of time sleeping. However, when they are awake they will become much more playful. At first they will just drag their hind legs. Once they know how to use those legs they will be hopping everywhere. Their ears which were should now start to stand, although lopped eared rabbits will not yet be lopped.
The kits will primarily be out of the nestbox. We leave the nestbox in the cage but turn it on its side. This gives mom a chance to jump on the nestbox to escape the kits as she desires. The kits may still sleep in the box, nestled in the hay.
Kits should be drinking out of the water bottle now. They should also be eating pellets. Do not feed the treats to young kits just yet. Oats can be fed in small portions, but do keep an eye on the kits as they eat the oats. Some kits may struggle swallowing the oats, and those that do should not be fed oats. The kits should be relying on mom less for their nurishment and more on the pellets. Hay should continue to be given to the kits.
Lop earred rabbits may begin to show signs of their ears lopping. For a couple of days prior to the ears falling, it may look like your kit is imitating an airplane. They look alot like a fur ball at this point. The kit's fur will have gotten much long, and will probably be standing straight up all over their bodys. This is a very cute stage.
The kits are nearly one month old. Most likely they will be completly on pellets and not nursing with mom any more. If the nestbox hasnt been removed it should be removed. It is likely that the kits could be removed from the does cage, but we like to leave them there until week 6.
Many lop earred rabbits will have their ears down, or at least show signs that they are coming down. Many experienced breeders will be able to sex their kits prior to this, however this is when we make our official declaration of which are does and which are bucks.
Now is the time to start making plans on where you will be housing the bunnies. They should be removed from the doe in about 2-3 weeks. Make sure you have cages, crocks, and water bottles as you will not want to continue housing them together.