Rosemary, our first rabbit, surprised me Thursday while I was doing the daily run through with the yard and animals when I found a tiny wriggling bun bun in the bottom of her hutch. I quickly set to work getting Timothy out of there, though he seemed entirely uninterested in the wee one and much more interested in just snuggling with Rosemary as always. We hadn’t actually built a wooden nesting box yet since we have been short on certain types of wood and is a severe holdup on the tax return actually returning to us, so I had to make do (or rather, Rosemary has to make do) with a cardboard box. Normally she would set to work chewing through a box, but not this time. As soon as the box with bedding was placed in the hutch, she set to work pulling out her fur (something they normally do, according to books, before they actually kindle – give birth) to make a nest for the tiny one.
I had taken the liberty to put the small one in the box so that it wasn’t simply wriggling around on the wire bottom of the hutch. Nate warned me later that I shouldn’t handle the baby, but it didn’t seem to affect the way Rosemary treated it since she has been nursing it steadily as a good mother does and built quite the posh nest for that one little critter.
Most rabbit litters average 6 kits, but Ms. Rosemary seems to have had some issues with gestation, because the second kit she kindled appeared to have been stillborn when we found him late that evening. These were the only two kits Rosemary had, and the second one was easily 3 times larger than the first (and only living) kit. It seems as though maybe she conceived twice, but rather than actually give birth when the larger kit would have been ready to be born, she gave birth later when the smallest one was ready to be born, and the first one seems to have died in the womb.When I found it dead and took it from the hutch, it looked like Rosemary didn’t even try to clean it off. She likely knew it was dead and so the placenta was still around the kits head. It was deceiving at first, almost looking as though she had begun to cannibalize the young kit, but after some inspection, it was clear this was not the case and that it was just normal birthing stuff still attached to the corpse.
Below are pictures of the living rabbit – whom I of course wouldn’t name because these are rabbits that were destined from the beginning to be meat, but if I were to name it, don’t you think Badger would be a cute name since it’s black with a white stripe down the middle of the head? – and there is also a picture of the second rabbit. If you don’t wish to see something fairly mangled and disturbing, maybe you should stop reading now, but in the interest of cataloging the whole of our homesteading adventure, I’m determined to share even the less pretty parts. I’ll have a much more encouraging post up soon with happy pictures of vegetables and non-edible/dead animals, but for now, this is the present at Gnarly Farm.