Breeding Rabbits 0 424

How to breed rabbits
How to breed rabbits
Do you know how to breed rabbits?

Breeding rabbits can be amazing but it can also be emotionally draining. The first thing to note is that many baby rabbits (kittens) do not live past the weaning stage. It’s not unusual for a whole litter of baby rabbits to die, especially if it’s the first litter for a rabbit mother. And the mother is also at risk of problems during pregnancy and birth.

So, you can see why it’s important to think carefully about breeding rabbits.

Can you deal with the emotional issues? Why do you want to breed rabbits? Do you have anyone to take the baby rabbits off your hands when they are old enough? This last point is really important as there is no point in bringing unwanted animals into the world.

If you’re sure that you want to go ahead with breeding rabbits then you need to know about the whole process. Read on to find out more…

How to breed rabbits

Choosing the right buck and doe to breed

One of the main reasons that people breed rabbits is to improve the stock they have. If you show your bunnies, or you would like to, then breeding rabbits can improve your chances of winning prizes.

For example, if you have a female rabbit (doe) that has a longer muzzle than you want, you can breed her with a male rabbit (buck) that has a shorter muzzle. The aim is to get baby rabbits that have improved features.

If you are new to keeping and showing rabbits then it’s sometimes difficult to know what needs improvement. It’s a good idea to ask for comments from show judges and experienced breeders. Remember to ask a few different people as they may all have different points to make.

Remember that you need to wait until the buck and the doe are sexually mature before you can start the breeding process. This can be at anywhere between three and six months but generally it’s best to wait until the bunnies are six months old.

Being prepared for breeding rabbits

Breeding rabbits: a pregnant rabbit
A baby rabbit. Are you ready for breeding rabbits?

Once you know which rabbits you’re going to breed you need to make sure you’re prepared for the birth. This may sound like you’re doing things a little back to front as the bunnies haven’t even mated yet. The thing is that once the mating has happened it’s too late to change the date the babies will arrive. This is why you need to plan and make sure you’ll be available to provide a nesting site and supervision when the birth happens.

The good thing about rabbits is that they are pretty reliable when it comes to expected birth dates. A rabbit pregnancy lasts 31 days and most litters of baby rabbits are born spot on the 31 days. Sometimes litters do arrive a couple of days early or late so make sure you take account of this in your plans.

Before you breed your bunnies you also need to make sure that they are both healthy and clean and that their nails are clipped.

Mating time

There are different methods of mating rabbits but generally the best thing to do is to place the doe into the buck’s cage. Never put the buck into the doe’s cage as female rabbits are very defensive of their cage space.

Once the rabbits are together, you will need to keep a close eye on them. Breeding rabbits may take time but the mating sometimes doesn’t. Turn away for a second and you might miss it! This is important because if you don’t realise that the doe is pregnant there can be problems, as baby rabbits come along unexpectedly.

Once the mating has taken place the female bunny should be moved back to her own cage.

How to tell if a female rabbit is pregnant

Breeding rabbits: a pregnant rabbit
A pregnant rabbit. An important part of breeding rabbits is knowing when the female is pregnant.

Once you know that the buck and doe have mated, and the doe has been returned to her own cage, you can leave her alone for a while.

After 11-14 days have passed you should place the female rabbit on a table, facing towards you. You then need to place your thumb on one side of the bunny’s abdomen and your fingers on the other.

Moving your fingers around you should be able to start to feel tiny pea sized formations; these are the baby rabbits or kittens (you will sometimes see this name shortened to kits). This process is called palpating.

Providing a nest

Once your female rabbit’s pregnancy is nearing its end you need to provide a nest box for her. There are many different types of box available and the type you choose is up to you.

Of course, you also need to provide nesting material which should mostly be hay, with maybe some straw and shavings included.

The nest box should be put into the rabbit’s cage around three days before the babies are due.

Taking care of baby rabbits

Hopefully, the end result of breeding rabbits is a litter of healthy babies.

It’s very important that baby rabbits are kept warm. This should happen naturally if the nest has been built well, but you still need to watch that the temperature of the nest is 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the babies are 2-3 weeks old you can think about removing the nest box from the cage. When you do this often depends on how warm it is in the room. After you remove the box you can leave nesting materials for a while to help the babies get used to their new environment.

After seven weeks the doe can be removed from the cage and the baby rabbits can be weaned. It’s a good idea to keep the babies together for a few more days so they don’t have too much stress at once.

And there you have it: the process of breeding rabbits! You don’t have to breed your pets, of course. Rabbit breeding is mostly done by professional breeders who sell rabbits and by people who show their rabbits. However, if you do decide to breed rabbits then make sure you have done as much research as possible and that you are ready for all the highs and lows of bringing new baby bunnies into the world.

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3 surprising behaviours of pet rats 0 879

Pet rat behaviour

Rats have been given a bad name by decades of bad press. Far from the dirty, disease-filled pests that are portrayed on our screens, these sociable, clean animals have a few surprising perks to owning them.

These sociable, friendly pets are highly trainable animals who show affection for their owners and have many cute little quirks that make them great companions. They also have a very strange way of showing they’re happy!

With that in mind, here are three surprising behaviours of pet rats.

1. They are incredibly playful animals

This one will be no surprise to those who will have seen the boxing, chasing and excited jumps with their own eyes, but many are unaware that rats spend lots of time playing with each other and their owners. One scientific study actually showed that rats giggle when they are tickled. It’s highly recommended that you fill your pet rat’s cage with lots of enrichment toys and interact with them daily. Many owners report that their pet rats love being chased or to wrestle their hands!

2. They are incredibly social animals and love to show affection

Rats are incredibly social creatures. While of course every animal has its own personality and there are exceptions to the rule, they need to live with at least one other rat and most enjoy lots of daily interaction with their owners. It is not a rare sight to see pet rats snuggled up in the laps, pockets and sleeves of their humans. They will also nibble and lick them, as they would other rats, in a show of affection.

3. They boggle their eyes when they are happy

Surprising when first witnessed, one of the most peculiar aspects of rats is the way they display their contentment. While cats purr and dogs wag their tails, when a rat is very happy or relaxed they will brux and boggle – which is a sort of teeth grinding and very fast bulging of the eyes.

Rats are brilliant pets for all ages and there are many positives that come from owning these friendly, misunderstood animals.

What can degus eat? 0 1449

What can degus eat

When they’re living in the wild, degus focus on dietary fibre. It makes up about 60% of their diet, with the other 40% consisting of natural vegetation. But when they’re kept as pets, you’ll need to keep a close eye on what you feed your degu.

Good quality hay

For the most part, your degu’s diet should consist of good quality hay. There are lots of brands that will suffice, but two of particularly good quality are Timothy Hay and Meadow Hay. Keep an eye on the colour: if it’s pink or white, you should throw this hay away as it’s growing mould. If it’s green, it can cause bloating. Occasionally, you can mix some Alfalfa hay in with your regular hay. It’s high in protein, so great in small doses.

You can top up your degu’s bowl with a little bit of guinea pig or degu-specific food, but don’t go overboard. It’s important that your degu doesn’t start ignoring the hay because it’s got a range of health benefits, including the maintenance of a healthy gut and strong teeth. Around 10g of degu food a day should do the trick.

Human food in moderation

The good news is you can feed your degu some of your human food! Give them to your degu in moderation though, as they can cause gas and bloating. On rotation, you can feed them the following foods around once or twice a week:

• Asparagus
• Carrot tops
• Dandelion leaves
• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Fresh herbs
• Brussels sprouts
• Celery
• Cabbage
• Courgette
• Green beans
• Beetroot
• Dried herbs
• Pumpkin
• Butternut squash
• Marigold flowers
• Radish

Some sugary foods can be an occasional treat for your degu. In excess, they carry the risk of diabetes, so we’d only recommend doing this once a month.

• Apple
• Cherry tomatoes
• Peas
• Sweet potato
• Carrots
• Cucumber
• Sweetcorn or corn on the cob

When it’s treat time for your degu, give them a tiny amount (one or two) of:

• Sunflower seeds
• Peanuts
• Pumpkin seeds
• Whole nuts

As a general rule, the main thing to avoid giving your degu is fruit not listed here, rabbit food, hamster food or anything with molasses.

Just like us, degus love food – whether it’s good or bad for them. Bookmark this page to make sure you give your degu a balanced diet, and happy feeding!

Learn more about caring for your degu and other pet care advice here: http://www.nichepets.com/category/mammals/degus/