Category Archives: Rabbits

Are rabbits crappy moms?

Our lady rabbit (doe, if you will) gave birth late last week, most likely Thursday (3/10).  I say most likely because the babies are hidden under a pile of hay and fur in our makeshift nesting box, which is really just the hopper for the apple press turned upside down in her cage.  I’d read that you’re not supposed to disturb newborn rabbits, at least not for the first seven days, something about how their mother could abandon them if they smell like not-her (aka predator), which would be bad.  All of which is to say that Will’s been listening to the underside of the rabbit cage all week until he heard rustling.

On Saturday morning I thought I’d give Will a break from the farm chores.  When I checked on the rabbits, I noticed the doe wasn’t in the nest box so I panicked.  I was convinced she was neglecting her young, or worse that she’d eaten them (I don’t even know if that’s possible for rabbits, but my mama-brain took over at this point).  So I grabbed a stick and started moving the hay around to peer into the nest box.  Sure enough, there were several pink bodies covered in fuzz squirming around in a pile and I quickly covered them back up and apologized to their mother.

I mentioned this to Will after returning to the house and he gave me the tsk tsk that I deserved.  Of course, now I am completely paranoid about the bunnies.  I have never once seen the doe in the nest box with them and I keep thinking “if she doesn’t nurse them, they’ll starve!”  At which point my husband reminds me that I’m probably too close to the baby thing, being only one year past having every moment of my schedule dictated by when Alston needed to nurse (or I needed to pump).  That, and if she has abandoned them, it’s probably my fault.

Sure, she pulls fur off her own belly to line the nest box that will keep her children warm, but I’m ready to point my judgement finger at the doe and shout “Bad Mother!”


Meet the rabbits

Now that we own a farm (farmette, really), it’s amazing the animal-related opportunities that fall into our proverbial laps.  This weekend, it was a pair of what we believe are New Zealand White breeding rabbits (1 buck, 1 doe).

You know that phrase “breed like rabbits” – the origin becomes pretty clear when you dive into bunny reproduction.  These critters have a gestational period of 28 to 31 days.  That’s right, while we humans carry our unborn around for nine plus months, rabbits pop them out in one.  And they pop out 6 babes a pregnancy, on average.  They wean at about 3 weeks, but you can get your doe pregnant at about 2 weeks post partum, meaning you can have a new batch of bunnies every 45 days or so.

From what I’ve read, rabbits are ready for slaughter at 8 to 12 weeks, which is not as fast as conventional cornish cross chickens but on par with dual purpose chicken breeds.

And now for a confession.  While I do find rabbit meat delicious, I was worried I wouldn’t have the chutzpa to raise meat rabbits.  I have to admit that the creepy red eyes of these albinos alleviates a lot of the cute factor.  If anything, I look at them and imagine some chemical engineer testing out eyeliner vs. children frolicking in the yard with their favorite pet named Fluffy.  Who would have thought my inherently suburban sense of aesthetics would come in handy on the farm?