This post might be too graphic for young readers and those with a weak stomach. I will post the cute pictures first!
Most days I really enjoy the animals that we raise and they bring me more joy than sadness. This morning however, was not one of those times. We have a doe that has been struggling as a mother. Aurora, we have learned, does not play well with others. For the last six months she has been living in our “Bunny Barn” with the rest of our rabbits. While in the barn, she was not being a very good momma rabbit. She would not put her babies in the nest, and she would not cover them up when it was 10 degrees outside. We lost a lot of babies this winter as the result of this. All of those babies were dead when we found them, it was sad, but there was not much that we could do.
So we took the hint, and this spring we moved her out of the Bunny Barn. This was her last chance to prove that she could be a good momma. She lives in her own hutch that sits in my garden area, her new set up is in the picture above. She can see the whole yard, the dogs come and sniff her and the kids can poke at her more than they could in the Bunny Barn. However, even with all those stresses, she seems very happy in the garden. She kindled six kits early yesterday morning, she built an amazing nest and she pulled way more hair, than needed in June, to cover them up and keep them toasty. We were so proud of her.
When I investigated the kits better to count them and remove any still born, my heart sank! One of her little kits was born with no skull or skin covering up its brain. (I put at picture at the very bottom of the post). I called our amazing, trusty vet, and friend to ask if there was any hope of saving this little one. Sadly, the answer was no. Our baby had Encephalocele, this is a congenital birth defect that happens in gestation when there is not proper development of the nervous system. There was no way this rabbit could live for very long and it would suffer if it did live. So even though this was the most active kit in the litter, I had to humanly kill it so that it did not suffer anymore. Our kind vet suggested putting it in a bag and putting it in the freezer, even though it was not the fastest way, it was the most peaceful, the baby would just go to sleep. The other choice I had was to break its neck and that would have been even more difficult for me to do.
At the end of the day, I am glad that the rest of the litter is still doing well. I am sad that we lost the one, but it is much better than losing all of them like we did this winter. I am happy to announce that Aurora is being a much better momma now, she lays in the door way to the nesting area and protects the babies. She built them an amazing nest, without a nesting box. I hope that other rabbit people are able to learn something from this sad story.