Fiona gave birth to 11 kits. At the end of week one, eight remained. Three weak kits died. We tried giving them kitten milk replacer mixed with cream since they clearly were not getting a chance to nurse, but although they ate some, we could not keep them alive.
After reading about how 50% of new rabbit moms lose their first litter, I was anxious to see if Fiona was feeding her babies. Since rabbits only go to the nest once or twice a day to nurse, it can be hard to tell. My anxiety led me to make a big mistake on the second day. All the babies seemed hungry that evening, so I tried placing Fiona on the nest like I had read to do. However I brought her and the babies in the nest box inside the house. The lights were bright and the kids were loud. When I put her in the nest, she peed in it. The babies got cold and looked limp.
Fortunately, thirty minute under a heat lamp restored the kits to withering warm, wriggling selves. Even better, Fiona nursed them in the night and they had round tummies in the morning. She was not abandoning them, she was just scared.
None of the kits died as a direct result of that incident, but by the end of the next day three were clearly not thriving. They died over the course of the week. Fiona has eight nipples, so I think it would be hard for all the kits to get a good amount of milk.
All things considered, I am happy to have eight kits and a now attentive mother rabbit.
Stay tuned for next week’s report.