Focus | 15 Dec 2011
Facts about Rabbits
They are more than just cute and fluffy pets; they are raised for fun, food and profit. A male rabbit is called a buck and a female is a doe. Pregnancy lasts about a month for female rabbits and when a doe gives birth to a litter, it is called kindling.
The average litter contains 4 to 8 kits or kittens. The kits are born blind, deaf and without fur. These are a few facts about rabbits that many people already know.
Raising bunnies is typically not too complicated. After all, the mother is the one that performs most of the work. She gives her newborns all the nutrients they require by feeding them with some of the richest milk in the entire mammal kingdom. The doe will feed her litter once or twice each day for about 5 minutes at each feeding. They continue drinking mother's milk until they are weaned at 6 to 8 weeks of age.
Another important task for the mother is keeping her young ones safe and warm. She will do this by pulling fur from her own body to make them cosy.
When it comes to grooming, rabbits will do most of it on their own. However, just like cats, they can develop hairballs, which is why feeding them hay regularly becomes an important task. Hay can help clean out their digestive system of any stray hairs they may have swallowed and help prevent those nasty hairballs.
Rabbits have 28 teeth that keep on growing throughout their lives. Hay stalks and other hard foods are needed to help them wear down these teeth. Without these hard foods the teeth can grow too long, which can prevent them from being able to eat properly. This is one of those facts about rabbits that could save your pet's life.
Rabbits can jump up to 36 inches high or more. In the US, some people train their rabbits to jump on a leash and compete in a sport called Rabbit Hopping. With all of their interesting and unique personality traits, it's easy to see why so many people are now enjoying the pastime of raising rabbits.
Rabbits aren't only raised as pets, but for food. Rabbit meat is very healthy and nutritious. Domestic rabbit is all white meat and is low in fat and cholesterol. In fact, it has less fat than beef, pork and chicken meat. It is easily digested, which is why it is often recommended to people on special diets.
A single doe weighing 10 kg can produce 320 kg of meat in a year while needing just 100 or 200 square feet of space. On the other hand, a single cow will require about two acres of land to produce the same amount of meat. If you want to raise more meat on less land, with the meat also containing less fat, rabbit is the way to go. Edited by Ful Joy
• female rabbit is called a doe. A male rabbit is called a buck.
• When referring to the parents of a rabbit, the mother is called the dam, and the father is called the sire.
• When you mate two rabbits together, this is called breeding.
• When you check to see if the doe is pregnant or when you breed her again before she is due to give birth, this is called testing.
• When you put a box in the hutch that is lined with hay, this is called nesting.
• When the doe gives birth, this is called kindling.
• The time between breeding and kindling is called the gestation period.
• She gives birth to a bunch of bunnies called kits. This bunch of bunnies is called a litter.
• When you take the young rabbits away from the mother, this is called weaning.
Keep the following principles in mind when you want to breed your rabbits:
• Only mate rabbits of the same breed. Exceptions to this include breeding for meat, pets or genetic experimentation. You cannot sell a pedigree rabbit that has mixed blood in its background going back 4 generations.
• Do not keep more than one rabbit in each cage when the rabbit is 3 months or older.
Rabbits mature faster when alone, do not fight and do not breed, thus eliminating unexpected results.
• Before breeding, check the bottom of the cage of both the doe and buck for evidence of diarrhoea or loose stools. Do not breed the rabbit having this condition until it has been adequately treated. Also check the genitals of both rabbits for any signs of disease or infection (for example, extreme redness, discharge, sores or scabbiness).
• When ready to breed the doe, take it to the buck's cage. Never bring the buck to the doe's cage. The reason for this is that the buck has less tendency to breed in the doe's cage. He's too busy sniffing around the cage.
• Some leave the doe with the buck overnight. Others put the doe in, watch it, and when they have mated, remove the doe. If you do the latter, put the doe back in with the buck 1 to 12 hours after the initial breeding. This will increase the likelihood of pregnancy and may increase the number of offspring.
• Keep a calendar and accurate records of the day you breed the doe. You should test her for pregnancy between the 10th and 14th day after the initial breeding.
• The overall preferred method is to palpate the lower abdomen of the doe with your thumb and forefinger checking for nodules about the size of a marble. The other method is not only more risky but also more inaccurate. This method is to mate the doe with the buck again. This can cause problems because the doe has two uterine horns, each of which can carry babies. It is possible for one horn to be fertilized on the first mating and the second to be fertilized on the second mating. This will create a hormonal imbalance and cause the babies in both uteri to not form right, causing her to pass blobs instead of babies at the date of kindling. There is also a chance these "mummified" blobs could cause complications leading to the death of the doe.
You should place a nest box in her cage on the 26th day after breeding. Thirty-one days after breeding, she should kindle her litter.
Never breed brothers to sisters. Other combinations are fine: father-to-daughter, mother-to-son, cousins, etc. Until you gain some knowledge as to how genetics works with inbreeding, I would recommend your not breeding closely related pairs. Ful Joy