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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

First off- Happy Mother's Day!

I went out to the rabbitry to find that Keep's Encore, the 2 year old doe who had never kindled and had one tiny DOA baby earlier in the week, had passed two more.

She seemed exhausted and isn't quite herself, but I don't really blame her. I know the kindling was rough on her and at the end of it, she doesn't have any babies to take care of.

Rabbits get a lot of bad press on their mothering abilities, especially by people that don't know, to put it bluntly, what the crap they are talking about.

"Oh, if you handle them won't she kill them?"
"We found these wild baby bunnies, the mom abandoned them!"
"Well we never saw her feed them, so we rescued them!"
"The babies were running around all alone with no mom around!"

Rabbits are usually excellent mothers. Some will charge you for wanting to check their kits, some will fight to the death to save their offspring (both domestic and wild rabbits). Some does mourn the passing of their babies, or the weaning of their children. I had one doe who pulled herself bald to make a thick layer of hair on the wire, then huddled over her kits to keep them warm until I found them. (Nevermind that she had a perfectly good nestbox...) Rabbits are very good about sharing their love- taking in fosterlings of other breeds even. I have had some does go in to deep mourning when their kits are weaned- to the point I had to move a baby back in to her cage so she'd eat again.

Rabbit moms are the buffet bar for their kids, as well as a heating pad and even a lounger- I can't tell you how many times I've found the babies curled up behind mom's head asleep, while she is careful not to move so they don't fall off.

Encore knows she lost her kits. All it would have taken to convince anyone that she's mourning her loss was to look into her eyes the way I did. You could feel it the way she jumped in her box like she was feeding babies, then jumped right back out and looked at me. Even though she doesn't have any kits, she's curled up beside her box right now, not really ready to move on. She's accepted a little comforting, in the form of a head rub, which she doesn't often do.

I think Encore is going to be a fabulous mother next time. She's going to get a rest until she's feeling a little more like herself, then we'll try again. I've got a good feeling about her mothering abilities. I think rabbit mothers really aren't so different from other mothers- they have the same love for their kids and the same sadness when things go wrong.

Keep's Rabbitry

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