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Mom tried to kill babies in 2 litters

Diagnosing and treating rabbit ailments. *Caution! These threads may contain graphic content.*
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Mom tried to kill babies in 2 litters

Post Number:#1  Unread postby ipoGSD » Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:12 pm


Wasnt sure where to post this but considering one of the kits has an injury from mom..I think it belongs here.

So the first litter from clover (holland lop that's extremely moody to say the least) mom tried killing a baby after we held it at around 5 days old. We assumed we maybe smelled like other rabbits so while we were very upset we thought well she was just trying to protect her babies. The first kit she tore up something terrible while we were right there trying to get it away from mom. She lived but her scabs were huge and took forever to heal.

Now second litter, because we knew mom went nuts with the first litter, we brought in some hair from her nest every time we wanted to hold them, normally we raise them inside but mom is SO messy we decided she can be messy outside.

Well this 2nd litter is 4 weeks old and out of the blue, mom tried attacking them when we put them back in with her. We distracted her with food and all seemed ok.. well... I guess it wasnt.. she had to have attacked and bit one of the kits on the foot. (I highly doubt it's from the cage wire as its NEVER happened before. And like I said we have hair from mom, inside a big box that we let the kits hop around in. no other rabbit smells in this box and we make sure we do not hold/pet any other rabbits when we have her kits. The kits foot is swollen and red, theres a scab and we have been using peroxide but I'm worried the swelling could mean infection. It wont put weight on it.

Out of the little over 3 yrs we have been breeding I've never seen where a mom attacks her babies after we hold them. Even newborn pinks we can hold with all our other rabbits. I cant not hold them because we pride ourselves in raising very friendly and outgoing bunnies. We hold them all the time.

We have decided to put clovers 2 kits in with another holland litter who are a week younger for a total of 5 for Babs our other doe, and she is fine with them. I think its about time I cull clover. I honestly have tried with her. Shes just plain mean. Beautiful as all get out but mean mean mean.

Does anyone have any ideas of how to treat the babies foot? We have peroxide, neosporin and some horse powder. I forget the name but it's for soft tissue wounds. Oooo wonder dust is the name I think. I dont want to have to cull this baby, it's so sweet :(

Just not having good luck with my hollands.. I think I need to find new breeding stock. Babs and Buster are brother and sister, when bred together the babies front teeth dont line up. Buster and clover have babies with good teeth but mom wants to kill them.

So sad and bummed...

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Re: Mom tried to kill babies in 2 litters

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sun Sep 09, 2018 11:20 pm


First of all, a question. Did you actually see the second attack happen or simply find the injury to the foot later?

It is extremely rare for a doe to intentionally harm her kits. Human scent is irrelevant - domestic rabbits are used to that and have no reason to fear it.

It could be a predator, biting the kit's feet through the wire. Raccoons and rats are notorious for that. So many times I have heard of does being wrongly blamed for this type of attack.

If it really is the doe, culling is probably a good idea. Perhaps keep one or two of her female kits to breed to Buster, in hopes that the teeth will align properly. The female kits may or may not be good mothers, however . . . Many people believe that mothering abilities are either learned or inherited from momma.

In addition to the things you have tried, you might try soaking the injured foot in an Epsom salts solution. It's good to draw out infection.
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Re: Mom tried to kill babies in 2 litters

Post Number:#3  Unread postby ipoGSD » Mon Sep 10, 2018 12:59 am


Omg yes.. Epsom salts how on earth did I not think of that one!!! Great idea, I will definitely do that.

As for the second incident, we saw mom trying to go after them because of our scent (it's the only explanation we can think of cuz we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that no other bunny smells were around because our bunnies are outside and in the basement, the huge box we put them in when we bring them in to hold them is in our spare bedroom upstairs..no bunnies around what so ever and we learned from the first litter not to hold/touch other rabbits so no smells on our clothes)

But once we added pellets (momma is a pellet addict) she ignored them. But the more I was thinking and looking at the cage she is in.. i am wondering if it DID get its foot stuck.

We never had any issues with injuries with the outside cages but we also bred larger bunnies. There is one spot where the wire cage part connects to the wooden hutch part. The wire isnt flush against it. I'm wondering if one of the little ones tried hopping in or out of the hutch opening and got caught? I even said to my wife, we dont know for certain I cant cull her.. and when she full on attacked her first litter, it was bite after bite after bite as we were trying to knock mom off of it to grab them. (I dont know how the baby survived but she did) but with this litter, it's one spot that's injured. Not many like before.

As for a predator, we do have fishers, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, Bobcats but with my dog always in the yard and the neighbors pitbull ALWAYS loose in our yard (they leave her out for hours at night and early morning) I dont think it was any of them. But its always a possibility. And the hutch part does have a screened bottom but it's got about 3" of hay. Not saying something couldn't have grabbed it while in the wire part tho.. (fyi neighbors pit is so kind and gentle I welcome her in our yard because I know a critter won't come around if shes here tho I wish she didnt crap all over lol)

My first immediate thought was mom.. but I honestly think it was the cage. I dont even know when it happened. We last had them inside 3 days ago. When we feed we scoop them up and hug and kiss them but we only noticed her foot when we set her on the floor to hop around and saw she was not using it.

I don't have to work tomorrow (cant work construction in the rain YAY lol) so I'll be spending the day on and off soaking her foot. I just hope it's not a permanent injury, it doesn't seem broken..I and a bunny as a kid with a broken foot..u could TELL it was broken..my moms awesome tho, she paid to have her leg fixed)

As a side note, Babs is such a sweet girl. She has been cleaning the 2 new ones and they are all cuddles together. I dont dare put them back with their mom smelling like other rabbits now. But at 4 weeks they definitely will be fine. I'll give clover lots of mint to help dry her up faster.

Wow I wrote a novel lol..

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Re: Mom tried to kill babies in 2 litters

Post Number:#4  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:46 pm


Many years ago I had a line of meat-mutt checkered Giant colored rabbits, The Does were notorious for attacking kits if i handled them, [and sometimes me] They were extremely good moms, and very protective.. It was not unusual to find dead rats , or snakes in the cage. When I needed to handle the kits, I took the nest box out of her cage and did what needed to do, - I then took my hands and rubbed them all over the does nose and face, then I put the nest box full of kits back in with her, --- by the time she got through checking her nest box and kits , and then cleaning my "stink" off her face- she could not tell I had held her kits.
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Re: Mom tried to kill babies in 2 litters

Post Number:#5  Unread postby akane » Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:30 pm


michaels4gardens wrote:Many years ago I had a line of meat-mutt checkered Giant colored rabbits, The Does were notorious for attacking kits if i handled them, [and sometimes me] They were extremely good moms, and very protective..


Checkered Giants are the exception to rules. :roll: My only ones to go on colony slaughters were checkered crosses and they'd kill any rabbit smaller than them until they had their own litters. Useful counter to the mini rex I used for better meat bone ratio but lost size. Not good for survival count though. Particularly in colonies.


I doubt this situation was scent so much as just the disturbance and change. Some does seem to get confused when kits show up where they aren't expected. I had a champagne d'argent that started charging her kits when moved from her usual cage to a larger one and the nest box removed because they had already been wandering most of the time. The sudden energetic kits all running around the new space at once set her off but she didn't end up hurting any and eventually calmed down. I've had similar where the does just seem confused a kit appeared from outside her cage back in it or even the nest box and either ran from it/avoided the box for awhile or started to show aggressive behavior. Usually they realized it was just one of their kits before it resulted in any injury and after a litter or 2 growing to weaning with us handling them they didn't have any more incidents of confusion. I think much like socializing animals such as dogs to common situations and human activity the does had to put together this was normal and not an invasion of their cage by some strange thing or a threat to the kits that had remained safely contained going about their usual behaviors. Kits come and go and get put places they didn't get themselves into by the humans but they are still the same kits and everyone is safe.
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