Entertainment Blog Directory

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Problem with Peanuts

 Peanuts are a sad case that pops up in any dwarf breed.  As a quick genetics review, a dwarf rabbit has one dwarfing gene and one normal gene- Dd.  What we call "Big Uglies", or non-dwarfed animals, have two normal genes, defined here as DD.  These animals are perfectly healthy and can still be valuable assets to a herd.

On the other end of that spectrum is the "double dwarf" kit, aka a peanut, genetically represented as dd. Unfortunately, two dwarf genes is a lethal combination. 999 times out of 1,000 a peanut will die within three days of being born.  When born, peanuts are often much smaller than healthy Dd or DD littermates and are characterized by pinched hindquarters that seem to curl around and "alienesque" heads with bulbous eyes.

Like many things in life, there is much debate about what to do when you find a peanut in your nestbox.  Some people cull them instantly.  Some people leave them to die naturally.  Others leave them a day or two to make sure they are peanuts, then remove them from the nestbox.

There are benefits and pitfalls to each approach. 

1.) Cull them instantly.  I used to be in this camp. I felt it was more humane to give the poor baby a quick death than to let it starve over the course of several days.  Then I nearly culled a "peanut" once in a Holland Lop litter. Something told me not to cull it because it didn't look exactly right- sure enough the "peanut" grew in to a healthy (albeit small) adult.  That was the end of my culling instantly.

2.) Let them die naturally.  This one has a lot of problems.  Now, you don't have to worry about mistakenly culling a runt this way, it's true.  Peanuts can also help provide warmth to healthy siblings for their first few days of life.  However, if you forget to remove the body (or are unable to find it- it happens!), several things can happen depending on the season.  In the summer, a dead kit can contaminate the nestbox by decomposing, sickening or even killing the healthy litter mates, not to mention drawing in flies.   In the winter, a dead kit can chill the healthy litter mates, again killing them.  Letting peanuts die naturally requires that you check on them several times a day until they pass.

As a word of caution, I have heard of peanuts living slightly longer lives- I myself had one that made it to 10 days old.  In these cases, I have to wonder if it is a "true" peanut (dd) or some other issue entirely.  Regardless, these kits will have problems, often being very, very small and having odd fur/wool, etc.   They may have trouble walking as well- my little guy seemed like he was always hanging on to life by the barest of threads.

3.) Leave them a day or two, then remove them.  This is my current plan of action.  By leaving the peanuts a day or two I am able to monitor their growth- or lack thereof.  Peanuts don't gain weight or grow, so they stay thin while their siblings fatten up.  Often before they die they resemble tiny little living skeletons- it's a terribly sad thing to see.  Once I notice that the kit is not gaining weight at all and has no milk in it's belly, it confirms for me it is a peanut and I humanely put it down to end it's suffering.   Leaving them in an extra day or two gives them that chance- it ensures I don't accidentally put down a runt like I mentioned in my Holland litter.  It gives the benefit of extra warmth to the siblings for the first day, but I don't worry about "losing" the kit when it passes away, nor do I worry about it decomposing or chilling the rest in the litter.

There is no right or wrong way to deal with peanuts, it is up to each individual dwarf breeder to decide the best course for themselves.  One thing we can all agree on is that peanuts are such a sad little case.

I suppose peanuts are on my mind lately because Nova had a litter of three that contained two peanuts.  One passed away less than a day after it was born.  The other is still in with it's healthy sibling, but I do so dread having to go out there today and see it withering away.  If only they could all be born healthy- but then, that's nature.


No comments: