Three Little Ladies Rabbitry, Jersey Wooly
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Overdue Does and Retained Kits

Ever have a doe miss her due date by several days? You were pretty sure that she was pregnant when you palpated her. Now she’s at 35 days and nothing is happening. Should you rush her to the vet? What about the kits, are they ok?

When evaluating an overdue kit, the first thing you must ask yourself is are you certain she was pregnant to begin with. Palpitation is the only way to determine pregnancy outside of an ultrasound. Occasionally rabbits will show signs of pregnancy such as pulling fur, and still not be pregnant.

Your Choices

If you’re fairly sure the doe was pregnant then you have a few choices. The first is to take her to a vet. This would be a rather costly way to go. The vet could do a few different things. He may offer oxytocin to encourage the doe into labor. Another alternative may be to deliver the kits via cesarean section. However, at 35 days it is likely that the kits are already deceased.

Your other option is to let nature take its course. Although it is rare for there to be any toxic life threatening effects to the doe from leaving the kits in her, there is the risk that she could become infertile, because of the retained kits. If you take this route, it is important to watch the doe for signs of illness, such as not eating or drinking.

Rabbit have an ability to reabsorb the soft fetal tissue. A few things can then happen to the remainder of the mummified kits. They could actually be delivered at a future date. Should the doe again become pregnant she can actually deliver the deceased kits with a live litter. Finally they could be retained forever.

The Need for Research

There has been very little in terms of research done on this subject. In fact there is nearly no information available on the internet. Most of what I have shared with with is from experiences of other breeders. Maybe this would make a great youth ARBA project.

Rob Usakowski
Three Little Ladies Rabbitry