We had a sad event over the weekend.

Sugar, who is my rabbit doe, lost her babies. She had 3 baby rabbits on Saturday, and today’s post should have been about them. She made them a beautiful luxury nest (judging by the amount of pulled fur in the nest, poor old Sugar should have been nearly bald) and she was very protective of them – she came to the door when we fed her to make sure we didn’t hurt her babies.

Because we know she is like this, we left the nest alone – with all our other rabbits we are able to take the baby rabbits out and handle them, but Sugar is more highly strung so we dont attempt it.

But on Sunday the baby rabbits disappeared without a trace. One of two things must have happened. Either she has eaten them, or a rat has got in and taken them.

Do rabbits eat their babies?

Yes, a rabbit mother eating her babies is not terribly uncommon, although we have been very lucky in this respect.

Why do rabbits eat their babies?

Rabbits eating babies tends to happen when the rabbit becomes stressed for some reason. It is thought that is it a misguided attempt to protect the baby rabbits that makes them do it. Sugar does tend towards stress, so it isn’t impossible that something scared her enough to eat the baby rabbits. Although our rabbits live a fairly quiet life, when a rabbit is as stressy as Sugar, it probably wouldn’t take much.

What about predators?

We don’t have many predators as such, but we do have rats turn up from time to time, and Sugar has loosened some of the wires in her hutch door, so it is more than possible that a rat got in and took them. I have to say that this is my preferred answer. Maybe it is just that I don’t want to think that Sugar ate her babies, but I do think a rat more likely.

What is the solution?

Well, I am a belt and braces sort of person so, as we are not 100% sure, I am going to tackle both problems.

I will buy some small mesh weld-mesh and tack it to the inside of Sugar’s hutch door which will keep any rats out. I had to do this with a big expensive rabbit hutch that I bought early on – it is a lovely hutch, but the mesh on the run was WAY too big and the rats were slipping in and eating all the food. So I added smaller mesh inside hutch, and that solved the problem. Obviously we will bait for the rats as well. I only put down bait when I know we need to – with so many animals around, I don’t like to have bait down unnecessarily.

Well, that’s the rat problem taken care of, what about the rabbit eating her babies?

We need to make Sugar feel more secure when she has her next babies. Even if she didnt eat these babies, the fact that “something” has happened to them might trigger her to harm the next litter.

We have a roll of old carpet lying around in the workshop, so I will cut off a piece of carpet that can be rolled up on top of the hutch and, next time Sugar has babies, the carpet can be rolled down over the front of the hutch like a curtain. Hopefully this will make her feel a little more secure, and more “in a burrow” and also block out any excess noises. I will do this now so that, by the time she has a new litter, she will be used to having the carpet rolled down and up.

Thinking as I type, I might cut the carpet vertically as well into three sections, so that the hutch door can be opened without rolling the whole carpet up. That might be even better. I will have to experiment and see what works best.

Hopefully we can look forward to a less stressed bunny and a lively litter of baby rabbits before too much longer 🙂

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