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All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Addressing the special needs of the breeding doe and her kits. Includes nutrition, gestation, nest boxes and materials, and tips to ensure survival of the young.
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All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#1  Unread postby CeroBlanco » Thu May 17, 2018 9:40 am


I had a litter born May 10th. They were six, no peanuts, buck VM and doe BEW, the kits were perfect at the birth. The doe already had a litter in the past, no problems with it, only one died but it was the smallest one. The doe made a perfect nest and in general she is a good mummy. All went well until the May 14th, when I found one of the kits died. It was the smallest of the litter, I thought that, like the previous litter, one could not survive. The day after, another one was died. This one looked as it was not feeded as the first, but I started to worry. The day after, the biggest of the litter was dead. Nice belly, no problem of feed. I was very worried. I noticed that the other three were not warm as a kit should be.
Today, the remaining three were died. I attach a photo of two of them: as you can see, they looked fine, but I noticed that all the kits had the same posture at death and I don't know if it's normal.
Can you help me? I have another litter at the moment and I'm worried that is something bacterial, however these kits are two days older than the died litter and they look fine. I even lost a doe because of a birth...a bad month :(
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Re: All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#2  Unread postby alforddm » Thu May 17, 2018 10:18 am


No sign of diarrhea or anything else out of the ordinary?

-- Thu May 17, 2018 9:18 am --

Oh and if you could please add your location to your profile that would be great. So many rabbit questions are climate related. It doesn't have to be exact just a rough location is fine. Something NE Texas is fine.

So...Location? Were these outside in a hutch or inside?

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Re: All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#3  Unread postby CeroBlanco » Thu May 17, 2018 10:50 am


No diarrhea or similars. I only noticed that, some hours before death, the kits were not warm as usual. Moreover, I found most of the kits died in the edges of the nest box (made of metal), not together with the other live kits. Sorry, I forgot to specify the location, I live in Italy, there are currently about 20 °C, no problems neither cold nor hot. I have a sort of big tool shed where there are my rabbits, so they do not live outside.

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Re: All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#4  Unread postby alforddm » Thu May 17, 2018 11:33 am


Given their position, and the fact that it's been hot where I live, my initial thought was heat stroke but if it's only been about 20C then that probably rules that out. I'm assuming there is plenty of air circulation in the shed?

I'm really sorry. I hope someone else can chime in here and give you more help.

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Re: All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#5  Unread postby CeroBlanco » Thu May 17, 2018 12:07 pm


Yes, there is air circulation and there is not hot at all. I have another litter located in the same place and it is fine (I hope it will be!). Thank you for your replies, you are really nice to try to help me :) I'm struggling to understand what was the cause, I thought also to a genetic problem...I really haven't a clue :(

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Re: All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#6  Unread postby akane » Thu May 17, 2018 12:20 pm


If it only strikes one litter these silent killers often remain a mystery. If it repeats with that doe's litters and particularly breeding that pair then it is may be something genetic based with her or with that cross. If it's bacterial you generally know it. Even without symptoms before they die the presence of bacteria when they die usually causes a rotten corpse very fast. When I had a bacterial infection kill gerbils and hamsters the first thing we noticed was that the bodies smelled horrid within minutes of death. Parasites and virus can be sneakier. When I was losing a bunch to cocci, which is a microscopic parasite, they'd just show up dead with no external signs but it was mostly striking the weanlings that did not have enough of their own immune system yet and were wandering around the environment not nursing as much.

It is possible for them to get too cold at that temp. Especially if your night temps are dropping any farther. It's Unlikely if they stay in a nest with other kits and get that big first but cold kits won't process the milk they drink and won't generate heat for each other resulting in a cycle they sometimes can't break. They can look skinny despite drinking or when really chilled die with completely full bellies because the milk doesn't even get moved through the digestive tract. The more that die the higher the odds you'll have larger, full kits start dying because there is less heat production in the nest the fewer kits it has.
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Re: All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#7  Unread postby CeroBlanco » Thu May 17, 2018 12:52 pm


Thank you Akane for your detailed explanation, it seems to make sense. No bad smell at all, so probably not bacterial, I'm relieved. I would like to breed her again with the same buck, the next month there will be a higher temperature and it will be unlikely to be cold, if unfortunately the kits die again I will be pretty sure that there is a genetic issue or something against that specific cross and I will not try another time. When can I rebreed the doe? Today is a week from the birth, is it too soon?

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Re: All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#8  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Thu May 17, 2018 5:40 pm


sometimes this happens when the doe "loses her milk" does her udder feel fine, or did the doe go off feed?
meat-mutt rabbits, a few laying hens.

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Re: All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#9  Unread postby CeroBlanco » Fri May 18, 2018 10:23 am


Yes, the udders are fine and she ate and drank as usual.

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Re: All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#10  Unread postby MaggieJ » Fri May 18, 2018 11:59 am


Provided that you are confident that whatever killed the kits is not contagious, and if her condition is good and her genitals look normal, I see no reason why you could not go ahead and breed her again as soon as you want to.

Sorry you lost the kits. Unless this happens again, you should probably look on it as a "just one of those things" happening. We don't always get answers.

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Re: All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#11  Unread postby CeroBlanco » Fri May 18, 2018 1:23 pm


Thanks for your kind words, MaggieJ. I will wait a couple of days because she always gives birth to six kits, despite she belongs to a small breed! So I will breed another doe in the same day to foster kits in case of need...this thing, a few days ago, saved a singleton whose mother died because of retained kits and I didn't noticed it...I'm so lucky :lol:

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Re: All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#12  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sat May 19, 2018 6:46 pm


Yes, it's a good idea to breed two does at the same time, especially if one has large litters or a poor milk supply.

Real bad luck losing a doe due to retained kits. :( What breed are you raising?

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Re: All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#13  Unread postby CeroBlanco » Sun May 20, 2018 3:22 pm


The died kits were Hermelin rabbits, I don't know how this breed is called in your country. The dead doe, instead, was an American Fuzzy Lop. No dwarf gene involved and the buck was smaller than the doe exactly to avoid possible deaths or difficult deliveries...it wasn't enough. After five days from the birth of the singleton, the doe died. I didn't think to a problem of retained kits, she was in a very strange position, between the cage bars and the nest box, I thought she was stuck and died for this reason. When I took her, I saw that there was a dark red "something" below her genitals...and the death reason was clear. I think that the other kits were already dead inside her.

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Re: All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#14  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sun May 20, 2018 3:40 pm


According to a quick Google search, Hermelin rabbits are similar to what are called Netherland Dwarfs here in North America. I'm not knowledgeable about dwarf breeds, so I cannot say how accurate this information is.
https://lafeber.com/mammals/netherland- ... bit-breed/

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Re: All the litter died and I don't know why - PHOTO

Post Number:#15  Unread postby CeroBlanco » Sun May 20, 2018 6:30 pm


Thanks for the link, they surely have a lot in common, Hermelin looks almost the BEW version of Netherland Dwarf. However, I never had a peanut from this breed, so probably there is not the dwarf gene in Hermelin, but I'm not sure. The bunny on the right is Elaine, the sweet mother of the kits in this topic :) she was about two months old in this photo. I will update the next month with her new litter!
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