Out of the Nestbox… Really?

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Woke up to this

Despite all the problems we’ve been having with these two litters, I still have yet to lose a single kit after the one runt passed a couple of days after kindling. The kits are now just about two weeks old, and although smaller than usual, they all seem to be doing fine. Eyes are opening without issues and today, Rosalind’s kits decided it was time to leave the nest. Most of them anyway.

I don’t normally see such small kits out of the nest on their own, unless by accident. But today more than half the kits were snuggled together out on the wire. I made the decision to remove the box and line the cage with hay. I’m sure it will be easier for Ros to nurse this way anyway, and it’s very warm out so I’m not too concerned. These kits are real troopers!

All the info I’ve read says to remove kits when a doe has mastitis. I could have done that, but I’m pretty sure I would have lost them all since they’re not really even eating solid foods yet. She only has one infected teat, and although it doesn’t look any better today, she seems to be active and comfortable. I doubt the kits are able to even access this nipple and she seems to be feeding them decently otherwise. Time will tell I guess. I continue to add apple cider vinegar to her water, provide plenty of hay and see how it goes. I may not continue the camphor rub treatments as I noticed she immediately went to work licking it off and I don’t think it’s meant to be taken internally.

Ironically, the more-developed kits in Tuna’s cage (which are actually a mix of her and Ros’ kits) are still snugly in their nest. She’s feeding them very well and I think the hand-feeding they received when very small has made them much friendlier. They don’t freak out when I put my hand in the nest like most young kits, these ones like to snuggle into my hand and enjoy tiny ear rubs. Ok, so just the Rex kits are acting this friendly. Are Rex bunnies more affectionate in general? More research is needed but so far the difference has been quite noticeable.

 

And Then… Mastitis.

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Rosalind has mastitis.

I should have paid more attention to what appeared to be a period of caked breast with this and her last litter. The first incidence resolved itself, but now she definitely has mastitis. I don’t think she’s feeding the kits at all and that’s the only reason I haven’t removed them yet. She’s really a very smart rabbit.

I wonder if this was partly my fault for free-feeding her so soon after kindling and piling on rich additives like oats. I wanted her producing well because at first, Tuna didn’t lactate so I needed a backup. Learning a lot with these two litters. I was told by a professional rabbit breeder not to free-feed until 12 days after kindling… Usually I adhere to this command but didn’t understand why.

The first thing to do was remove all concentrates, which includes pellets, leaving her alone with hay and water. I noticed her eating the occasional piece of straw, which is unusual for her. The very first day she didn’t drink a drop of water. One reason I will probably never move to a larger-scale watering system. The early diagnosis value is too important.

I added apple cider vinegar to her water bottle and an additional crock so she could drink more easily. She appreciated this and drank quite a bit. It seems painful for her to move around her cage too much, poor thing.

I also gave her fresh blackberry leaves and cane, rosemary and comfrey leaves. I figure I don’t know all that much about rabbit medicinals, but at least I could offer her some choices to self-medicate. By morning she had consumed everything (I hadn’t removed her pellets at this point yet so she wasn’t starving).

I’m now on a regimen of hot compresses and camphorated menthol rub on the affected area. She seems to get a lot of relief from these treatments. If I deem it to be getting too bad I am prepared to lance and purge, but this is a future scenario for now. Only one teat seems to be affected.

She’s a fighter, and she still seems very alert and active. All kits are still fine and their eyes are even starting to open. They do look a lot skinnier than I’m used to at this age though.