During January's mid-month thaw, Katniss had a date with Blueberry Sundae. She wasn't much impressed with him nor the whole situation so I was quite
surprised when she started nesting more than a week ago. That's quite a process. A nesting doe is intent, focused, and does not suffer fools gladly. My job at that point is to shovel in hay and stay outta the way. Nesting does can go through a lot of hay because they dive into the job furiously and make a big glorious nest. Then they eat it. And start all over again. They can do this repeatedly for a week or more. Perhaps it's their way of ensuring good gut health or bulking up before birth. I dunno. They just do. Good hay is good for bunnies so I just keep them supplied with lots of hay. Kat was due to kindle on Monday, Feb. 17. Gestation range is 28 to 35 days but my rabbits tend to be pretty specific, usually kindling right at 31 days. No babies on Monday. As much as she continued to nest, I figured I'd wake up to new babies on Tuesday morning. But. No babies. It's a fine line between checking often enough to ensure safe landing but not so often that you piss off the doe enough to make her go sulk and refuse to birth. When 9 am arrived and babies still hadn't, I figured there wouldn't be any before late evening, if at all. And when they don't have their babies close to that 31 day mark, things can go wrong. Babies continue to grow and when they get big, the doe can have significant trouble delivering them and litter losses can be high. But just because I am as frantic waiting for babies as does are about nesting, I checked on her again around 10 am. She sort of had a nest bowl in one corner but she hadn't pulled any wool. Then I noticed a couple of shapes, took a closer look and found 5 scattered and chilled but living babies. Kat charged at me but I managed to pull her out of there so I could safely scoop up the kits. I incubated them in my clothing while I got a baggie float ready ((warm water in a bowl, kits in a baggie, baggie in the warm water). While they floated in this makeshift womb, I fashioned a nest in a box, cut up some prime angora and lined the nest with it. 3 of the kits, a dark and two light, warmed up quickly to normal levels so I moved them into the box. The other two, one light one dark, warmed up but I wasn't too sure about them. The dark one was still sort of limp and not breathing properly. The light one seemed strong at the front end but the hind end was limp, no leg movement. That one joined the others because if a kit has spine damage, all I can do is wait and see. The still limp dark one I did some chest compressions and careful attempts to shock the circulation into better action, then put some molasses on the kit's lips and gums for an infusion of glucose. Ultimately, the limp form faded out of life, but the light baby's hind end gradually improved to the point I could no longer tell which of the two small light ones had that issue. By evening, I returned the 4 to Katniss, who then told me in no uncertain terms to get out of her nest. She is a devoted mother and ferocious enemy. I didn't check further until Wednesday morning to see if all 4 got fed. One of the little ones didn't have that big round belly of a freshly fed kit.
Another doe, Magic, was due that morning. Like Kat, she went an extra day, but instead of nesting, she just looked peeved and hovered in the hay. She kindled Wednesday morning, 3 very big kits, 2 who did not survive birth. Because the nekkid little newborns need siblings for shared body warmth, I pulled the little runt out of Kat's nest to give this new baby a foster sibling. Rabbits are remarkably welcoming to kits not their own and this gave both kits a better chance. By Thursday, it was clear that Kat's two big kits were not letting the other smaller kit feed, so I moved that one to Magic's nest too, and that arrangement seems to be working. I left both does alone as much as possible yesterday, to give them a chance to calm down. And now this morning, all 5 kits are fed and growing. Kat produced a self black kit and 3 that are either ruby eyed white or possibly (pleasepleaseplease) pointed white. I won't know for about 3 weeks, I think. I've only had one other litter with pointed whites, an unexpected surprise because of hidden recessive genes. Kat's babies, through their sire Blueberry, are grandkits of Smudge, the pointed white I kept from that litter. I do not yet know if Blueberry carries the pointed white gene. This litter will tell me. Magic's baby is either self blue or self lilac. At birth, the kit had distinct chocolate tones but lilac and blue go through a phase of looking pretty much the same, so it may be a while before I know which. As of now, the kit looks distinctly blue. Either color is fine by me. But I would like to ask the gender goddess to be kind and let it be a doe.