Saving frozen kits
Breeding rabbits outside in the fall and spring can sometimes cause immediate losses due to small litters, inexperienced mothers, poor nest building and colder then expected temperatures. Some Novembers have been as warm as toast, and some get a blast of arctic air unexpectedly. But I love to have Scorpio bunnies born, so I always try in the fall. The incidence of male kits born has been higher here in fall breedings. It will be interesting to see what this current litter yields.
So, Sunday morning as I picked up 3 stone cold, non-breathing kits, I knew that only 1.5 hours had gone by since I had fed mama and she had pulled one wad of fur for nest building. I was pretty sure they hadn't been "gone" long. I put them all in my shirt against my chest and ran back to the house. Out came 3 sandwich bags and a shallow bowl. The bowl was half-filled with room temperature water. Each kit went into a plastic bag with the TOP KEPT OPEN, and they were floated in the water filled bowl. In about 5 minutes the white kit started breathing, and shortly thereafter, the other two began moving. Within 15 minutes they were squeaking and in 30 minutes (I had warmed up the water twice by this time by adding a cup, then two, of hot water) they were extremely active, warm to the touch and normal in all ways. I decided they had NOT been fed by mama yet as their tummies were not round but wrinkly looking, and so I trotted off to the barn to get her and see about a forced-feeding. As I went into the nest area to get some fur for future nest building, I spotted another black kit under everything, also stone cold. So, back to the house at a run and into a plastic bag and then into the warm water he went. This kit took longer to come back....about 15 minutes for movement and then 30 minutes for squeaking. I put him in the nest with his siblings after an hour, as they were warm and would help him warm up more, I was sure.
I tried a forced feeding with mama at that point, but the kits were not responsive enough and I had to get to work, so I put them all together in a small cage, where mama could not ignore them. They were isolated in a very quiet place, mama was fed well, and I kept my fingers crossed.
One little tortoiseshell kit, who had been injured during birth, died the following night (probably was just as well), but she fed the rest of them! Good girl!
This morning (day 2) the three look fed and happy. Mama made a LOT of noise last night and I had visions of her tearing up the cardboard box I had put in the cage to hold the nest of bunnies, but this morning all was well.
It's a really great feeling when things go better because you were there in time.
Posted by countrywool
at 9:37 AM EST