by Tracy Lukeman

Start by bringing the doe to the bucks cage. If she is ready to bred the buck will mount her from behind and the doe will lift her tail. If the buck falls over and grunts, you have a successful breeding. Try getting this to happen a couple more times to be sure she is bred but remember it only takes one time. Mark the calendar and gestation is usually in 31 days. She could be a day or early or late so keep that in mind. You may want to put the doe back in with the buck for a test on her 10th to 14th day, to see if she is bred. If she make growling noises it usually means she is bred, take her out promptly and put her back in her own cage.

 

 
Three days before she is due to deliver, place a nest box inside the cage and give her a large amount of hay, enough to fill the nestbox and a little extra for eating. She will know exactly what to do with it and soon you will see her hopping in the nestbox with large mouthfuls of hay. In the winter months, after she is done making the nest I take the nestbox out when she is done and add thickness of newspaper by measuring a full newspaper side to side, then tearing straight down starting at the fold. I pull the hay nest out she made and slide the piece of newspaper inside the nestbox bottom then add about two inches of clean pine shavings, then add the nest back the doe made.
If you put the newspaper and the shavings in before the doe makes the nest she will tear it to pieces trying to dig a hole to make a nest. The newspaper gives the nest a nice warm insulation to keep the babies warm. In the summer I use 1/2 by 1/2 inch mesh wire on the nest boxes with just hay and omit the shavings and newspaper. ALSO in the summer during the very hot months, when the doe is done kindling, I pull out 75% of the fur since it makes them too warm. I prefer use soft hay not straw.
At ten days, I take all the fur out and add clean hay so it is nice and clean when their eyes open. In the winter months you may want to leave a bit of the cleaner fur. They also start to nibble on the hay around that time.
 
 

        

Nestbox size is 14'' long by 9'' wide by 9'' high with a 1/2 x 1/2 mesh bottom. Made with 3/4 inch plywood scraps!

 
Right before she gives birth, she will pull fur from every reachable part of her body and line her nest with this to provide a soft warm lining for her babies. In rare cases, a new mother may not do this, in which case the babies would eventually die of cold if left outside. The doe will usually give birth in the early morning hours and you may not be able to witness the birth.

 
After she gives birth, remove the nest box and pull the fur aside so you can count the babies. Check for any dead babies, remove soiled hay and uneaten afterbirth and then get a count. If the babies are cold, do not assume they are dead. Babies can be brought back to life by holding them next to a warm part of your body or run warm water over their bodies (not the head!) or gently blow dry on low heat. Do not blow heat directly on them or you will burn them. If everyone looks OK, place the box back in the cage. Make sure she has food and water, and leave her alone for a couple of hours.


Holland Lops being a dwarf breed sometimes have what is called a peanut, a baby which has inherited a double dwarf gene. This is fatal for the babies and the die usually in 2 to 3 days. I have seen some make it to 3 to 6 weeks and heard of one living to 7 months but their lives are always short lived.

 

      

A three week old Holland Lop peanut

 
These babies are usually about half the size of normal babies. You can tell it is a peanut from a normal baby by looking at its body size and shape. Peanuts have a bulge or bump on their head. Their hips and backside are under developed and their rear legs cross.
 

3 day old baby bunnies

 
Nursing will not take place until about 8 hours after birth. This is something the doe also does in the early morning hours and then some does nurse again later in the evening. Not all does feed twice a day. Check the nest each day. Healthy, well fed babies should have full round little bellies, and if held on their backs you can sometimes see a yellow translucent patch on the belly, which is a tummy full of milk.
 

A well fed baby bunny

 
If the bellies are sunken and the skin over them is loose and wrinkly, the babies aren't nursing and will die within a couple of days if they get too weak to nurse. Newborn babies decline very rapidly because does nurse their young only once or twice a day. Sometime new mothers don't know what to do and you will have to hold them is the nest box the first few times. Be careful you don't let the doe rest her foot of any of the babies. It usually takes about 5 minutes to let them nurse and once the doe starts to produce milk she will need to have it nursed off of her and start jumping into the nest box on her own. What to do if you think you have...Orphaned Baby Bunnies.
 
 

Development of the babies...

 
First Week: Bunnies are born blind, deaf, and completely naked. Lying together in the warm nest will help them to keep each other warm. If you have a litter where only a single baby is born, it is advisable to foster one or two others from another litter to the mother, or the single baby could end up splay legged due to over eating.
 

 
Seventh to eleventh day: During this time (10 days) the baby bunny opens its eyes and a soft downy fur will begin to cover their body. This fur will be a clearer indication of what color and markings your litter will have. Because the mothers milk is so rich and nutritious, the babies grow amazingly fast, doubling their birth weight within a week.
 

1 week old baby bunnies

 
 
Second Week: Depending on their rate of development, the baby rabbits now begin to clamber out of the nest. Their fur has already become impressively thick and fluffy. At this age, they have full vision and hearing and will scurry back to the safety of the nest box should they get frightened. They will also begin to nibble on hay now.
 
 

 
 
Third week: The ventures outside the nest become more frequent. The young rabbits are already learning to stand on their hind legs without falling over and will test all four legs by suddenly darting around the cage. They make their first attempts at grooming themselves and will usually lose their balance and topple over in doing so.
 

awwww

 
Fourth Week: Now the young keep following their mother trying again and again to nurse. She knows to wean them now and will hop away to try and discourage them. By now, the babies are eating rabbit pellets, loose hay and nibbling on oats. They practice hoping and running and watching them play provides great entertainment. This exercise will help strengthen heart, lungs and muscles.
 
 

 
 
Fifth to Seventh Week: The young rabbits are almost completely weaned and adjusted to solid food even though they may still chase their mother. At 8 weeks, pets are big enough to go to a new home and will make happy, loving friends. Holland Lop bunnies take some time dropping their ears so be patient. Some have a good amount of ear control depending on well their crown develops and how correct it is.
 

5 week old baby bunnies

 

6 weeks

 

Visit this site, DebMark Rabbit Education Resource to learn about sexing your bunny:

Sexing Rabbits

 

JOIN THE HOLLAND LOP CLUB TODAY click here: HLRSC

You get a excellent information book on the Holland Lop, a quarterly publication of the Hollander!! WOW!

 

 

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Information found on this page are the opinion of the owner of this site. They are compiled from various sources during research and readings. They are offered for use by those who may find them interesting or useful.

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