This is a bunny tale. However, it is not a fiber bunny tale. At then end of September, we received a phone call from my sister in law, asking if we could adopt a rescued rabbit. Since I have empty cages in my barn, and it is really not a problem feeding 16 rabbits instead of 15, I said yes. The "oh by the way" turned out to be they thought the doe had been bred. It was not really clear how they had decided this, but she was given the information that if the rabbit was pregnant, it was probably due around Oct 15th.
So I got the bunny settled into a cage, and held her now and then and she seemed to be settling in just fine. She's an unknown breed to me, I will have to get a picture posted and see if I can find out if she is a specific breed. Right now, she is just one of those lovely little pet rabbits a short haired, silver with black tips on her fur.
Around the expectant date, I gave the rabbit several big handfuls of straw. She promptly went into nest making mode, something I never get tired of watching. The doe will go through the straw, almost piece by piece, picking up certain ones in her mouth. More and more gets added to the mouthful, until eventually she goes to look for a place to put it. This involves hopping around from corner to corner of the cage, sticking her face down like she is trying out the straw for size. Eventually she makes a nest out of this process.
As much as I would love to watch this all day, I had to go to work, and I left her in the process of nest building, expecting baby bunnies in a day or two.
Or three, or four, or five....by the time five days past the due date had gone by, I decided she had just been spoofing me, and was not really pregnant. She dismantled the nest, ate some of the hay, chewed on the plaster board I had set under the nest, and basically just acted like a typical bored bunny.
So it was with surprise on Sunday night, Oct 24th that my husband announced when I walked in from work, that I had to get out to the barn. At first, with a few geriactric bunnies in the barn, I thought one had passed away. Oh no was his reply with a twinkle in his eye. It was then I knew, she hadn't been spoofing at all, but had had nothing with which to build a nest! My husband informed me that when he had gone out to feed that night, he saw lots of fur in her cage. Then looking down on the ground below the cage, he saw a baby bunny. It was warm, dry and had a full tummy. Searching again thoroughly, he found two more under the cage. In all of her dismantling of the nest, she had moved the solid boards, and in all of her trying to rebuild the nest, the babies had dropped through the wire. We were very lucky that it had probably not been all that long that the babies had dropped out of the cage. So we got the cage all arranged, the babies on the board, the fur around the babies, and gave her more hay. I saw her gently place hay on top of the babies and felt sure she knew where they were and would take care of them. I am still dismayed that she would not use the five gallon bucket attached to the cage for the nest. All of my angoras have instintctly used the bucket for a nest, but this bunny wanted the one corner of the cage from day one, and I worked it out so she could have the nest there.
Three babies. Oh I didn't care that they are not my fiber type bunny, a baby bunny is adorable no matter what breed. I went to bed smiling that night.
Monday I was off for the day. I went out in the late morning and checked on the nest, and they were snug and warm. I didn't disturb them much, and went about all of my day off chores. Later in the evening I went out to actually feed all the rabbits, and check again. As I was opening the feed can (I keep the 50 lbs in a metal trash can) I looked down on the floor beside the can, and there was a baby bunny! On the floor! At first I thought one had gotten out of the nest, but it was very far from the nest, we are talking at least 10 feet from directly under the nest and on another level of barn floor. Astondingly it was still moving. I picked it up and it was very cold, but I immediately took it inside and warmed it up in my hands for awhile. In a matter of minutes it was squeaking away and trying to nurse on my thumb. After about 20 minutes I felt it was warm enough to join the others in the nest. It only took a quick head count of those in the nest to discover that this was an additional bunny, and that it had amazingly been out of the nest for 24 hours and was still alive. So Then There Were Four.
I am happy to report the mother accepted this new arrival, because the next morning I picked each bunny up to inspect them, and they all are fat and thriving. I can not even tell if one will be a runt, from this experience. But time will tell, as they grow. Unfortunately, all four bunnies are the exact same coloration, there is not going to be any way to tell which one was the lucky well travelled bunny. If I could, I would name it Peter, for the others, all looking exactly alike, have to be Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail.