Animals,  Bunnies,  Farm Chores,  Farm Life,  Homestead Lessons Learned,  Projects

False Pregnancy?!

Last month’s lesson in homesteading was False Pregnancy…

Oh no no no no no no… NOT ME!!! No more human babies around here!

Our poor bunny Rosie was sure she was pregnant and actually went through all of the motions of getting ready for her kits (baby bunnies!).

This was different than last summer when I thought she was pregnant. She and her bunny sister had gotten out of the hutch and were out with the wild bunnies for three days and I was sure that she must have gotten pregnant so for thirty three days, I was on baby bunny watch… reading and worrying and checking every symptom. There could have been up to 15 babies, and I was honestly freaking out! We’re not in the bunny breeding business, we just have bunnies as pets! And just these bunnies! 🙂 So , you can imagine my relief when 33 days passed and there were no babies! Phew!

Well, back to last month’s lesson…

I noticed that Rosie was gathering hay and straw in her mouth and she seemed very busy. I noticed how cute it was but I didn’t think anything of it. Sadly I didn’t get a picture of Rosie, but here’s a picture of what she was doing.

A couple of days later, Braden noticed that there was a big tuft of fur hanging off of her… and as I looked closer, I noticed that there were a few spots where her fur was coming out and loose.

I thought maybe she and Pippa had been “playing”. Rosie is a mini satin angora rabbit and they do shed their fiber a few times a year… you can just pluck it out it’s so loose. So I thought that must have been part of it, too.

But, I started looking further into it and realized that she’d built quite a nest in the corner of the hutch… it was a huge pile of hay and there was fiber mixed in… you know, like you’d expect a Mama Bunny who was expecting baby bunnies to do.

Researching anything about bunnies has been so hard. There’s so much information out there, and it seems like it all contradicts all of the other information I find. I know that not every rabbit or situation is the same but with every other animal, or homesteading topic, I feel like I’ve found sources that I trust and information that makes sense… not so with rabbits!

Until now!

I finally found a website I like that seemed to give straightforward and valuable information. Rabbitcaretips.com has a lot of great information. They came up in a search and I will definitely use them whenever I have questions now.

What Rosie was doing was definitely called nesting behavior… they take all of their hay and pull out their fur to make a nice warm nest for their babies. They seem frazzled and busy, and within a week there should be babies! Ack!!!

We have two female rabbits (as far as we know!) and they haven’t been out, and we don’t think there’s any chance that a wild bunny can get into their enclosure, but I just didn’t know.

There’s also something called False Pregnancy.

False pregnancy is when the bunny does just what Rosie was doing… totally prepares for her babies because she really believes that she’s pregnant and she needs to get ready. It can happen when there’s some kind of trauma or if her roommate (even if she’s female) had been humping her… they do hump each other (sign of dominance and figuring out pecking order), so it’s very possible that’s what’s going on. False pregnancy nesting behavior only lasts a few days, and then she apparently acts like nothing happened, whereas, real pregnancy results in tiny baby bunnies in the nest.

Ugh… I was watching so closely… watching for movements in the nest… watching for messes that were signs of birth… poking the nest. Nothing. FInally, enough days had gone by and it was time to clean the hutch, and Rosie didn’t seem interested in the nest anymore, so I got brave and reached in to grab the nest… it was so scary… baby bunnies are like little mice and I didn’t know what I was getting into… were there babies or no babies or babies who had died or…? So scary!!

I had to, as Carson says, Farm Girl Up, and do what needed to be done!

Luckily, thankfully, happily, and as you might have guessed… it was false pregnancy. No babies!

I happily cleaned up the nesting stuff – lots of delicious fiber in there, by the way, and got their hutch all reset with clean straw, new hay and wood pellets, saying “There you go, Girls… no babies… back to life as usual!”

Except it hasn’t been.

Rosie started building a nest again… and she is tearing out her fiber, and chasing Pippa around like a crazy woman off and on. Poor Mama… she’s kind of a wreck!

I’m thinking that I need to come up with a new hutch situation where they’re separate so that they calm down.

That’ll have to be one of the many many things on this month’s homestead project list… spring is coming! We need to get our seeds started, our new expanded garden area set up with new containers, fence and reseed part of the alpaca pasture, put up some fencing along one side of our property and the street side, trim and prune our many trees, and tomorrow… we get our baby chicks!! 🙂

Lots of exciting stuff coming to the homestead! Stay tuned!

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