We have all heard about how rabbits multiply, but now I can tell you, as one who has come back from a far away land, that I have seen it for myself. The rumors are true. I no longer know how many rabbits we have, but it is definitely more than ten, and in about two weeks, it will be more than twenty.
Oddly enough, it took us a while to get the rabbit breeding going. The first time we tried putting Ty (Cobb) and Cecil (Fielder) together… oh by the way we named them after baseball players with little regard for gender… Cecil (the female) wanted no part of it. We had not expected this difficulty. After all, rabbits are supposed to mate like… well… rabbits. We tried a few things to get Cecil in the mood. Dad even wanted to play Frank Sinatra music to her, and bada boom bada bing, there was romance.
A new zealand rabbit’s gestation period is roughly 31 days, and we waited through all of them patiently. At 29 days we inserted our newly constructed nesting box into Cecil’s cage and waited to see her make a nest out of hair and hay and give birth. We kept waiting. A week after the due date, we admitted to ourselves that Cecil was not pregnant. In retrospect, we believe that Ty’s previous conditions had subjected him to too much heat and made him sterile for a little while.
So we tried again, and this time we knew within a couple of weeks that she was indeed pregnant. She would carry hay in a funny fashion and dig around. When the time came, we put in our nesting box, and let me tell you, she built a rabbit palace for her babies. I still marvel at all the hair she ripped from her body and stuffed in that thing.
With the nest built, it was only a matter of time. I had my suspicions that she might have had them so I went to check, and behold! I saw an ugly little hairless thing crawling around on top of the nest. This was the only sighting we would have of the babies for several days. They burrowed down into the hair and fur to stay warm and grow.
A few days later, we decided to look and check on them. We peeled back a little hay from the top of the nest.. We had expected roughly 5 to 8 babies in her first litter, but these things were as numerous as the stars in the sky. We can now view them by looking in the box. They have gotten big enough that the nest no longer hides them completely. In fact, a baby rabbit doubles it’s weight in six days. However, we have yet to come to a conclusion as to how many there are. At three weeks of age, they supposedly come hopping out of the nesting box and into our hearts. Then we will know. That is about a week and a half away.
Also about a week and a half away is the due date of our other female rabbit, Babe Ruth. I have a feeling that I will very much appreciate the cycle of life as we raise rabbits. One day you are bringing them into the world, the next week you are watching them take their first hop, then a couple of weeks later little A-Rod is all grown up, and then we eat him.