Rabbits/My Bunny Milo

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Milo
Milo  
Hello, I have a male dwarf lop rabbit named Milo. He is 7 months old and I have had him since he was 2 months old. He has not been spayed or neutered. Milo has a wooden 2 story cage with no bottom its just on the grass. 2 weeks after I got Milo I got another rabbit (female this time). She was a dwarf lop as well and she was also 2 months old when we got her. Milo humped her straight away and often always did. The bunnies were aloud to roam the yard free during the day and would be locked in their cage at night. We have a female cat and 5 chickens that roam the yard freely as well. All the animals got on great and never had any problems. 2 weeks ago I had to give away the female rabbit as she was constantly digging everywhere and my brother would never play with her anymore (we suspected she might have been pregnant also). So it has been 2 weeks now since we gave her to a new home and Milo hasn't been the same since. He's become a mean rabbit, he was attacking one of our chickens (he was on top of it biting it!!) He always seems agitated and won't let me pat him or hold him or anything. I tried patting him last night and he bit me and drew blood. He has never done anything like this before. I put a teddy bear in his cage to give him some company. He is still eating and drinking normally. I'm too scared to let him out of his cage now in case he attacks one of my chickens again. I don't know what to do!!! Please help!! Thank you. Regards, Tori.

Answer
Hi Tori:

I'm sorry I did not answer your question earlier, I was at a 2 day conference.

Male and Female rabbits can not and should not be kept together unless they are in a full underground colony where the female can make multiple burrows, dens, tunnels, etc.  An average rabbit colony is 3plus acres. A home colony can be done on as little as a 1/4 acre if only a few rabbits are involved.

Rabbit does are induced ovulators, which means once the male mates with them, they release eggs and those eggs are fertilized.  They don't have heat cycles like other animals where the eggs are released in advanced.  The reason they cant be kept together is that once a doe becomes pregnant, further advances from the male will be declined.  Rabbit does have 2 uterine horns and they can carry a  litter in each horn.  If the doe mates and gets pregnant in one horn and 2 weeks later the buck mates her again and she develops a pregnancy in the 2nd horn, then she is carrying 2 litters of different ages and both will die.  Instinct in does prevents this from happening so in the wild, or in a colony, does go underground in an isolated den to keep the buck from approaching and mating.  If they are caged in, and the doe has no escape from the buck, she most often castrates him (tears his testacles off) - which would certainly happen to your buck if you keep the doe and buck housed in the same cage.

Bucks can have live sperm as young as 10 weeks of age, however they become sexually mature with hormones between 7 and 8 months of age - which is exactly where your buck is at.  Once they do, they most often become very dominant of any females in the area and if they can see or smell the females, they WANT them.  If they cant get to them, they get ANGRY and nasty as you are experiencing.

The first thing you need to do is to make sure they are separated at all times.  No housing togewther, no unsupervised playing together, no MATING at all.  The doe may very well be pregnant; you can palpate her anytime after 9 days of mating to feel for kits (if you know how to do so).  A full pregnancy is 31-33 days so if you don't know how to palpate for kits, mark the calendar for 31 days from the first time they mated and 'act as if' - prepare for kits to be born, which means a proper nest box with proper bedding for the doe.

Once the doe kindles (which is the term for birthing in rabbits) - keep the buck away from the kits.  He WILL kill them - no exceptions.  Also, does are most fertile/most likely to get pregnant again anywhere from 12 hours to 2 days after the kindle (give birth) so make double sure they don't connect.  They can get pregnant on any day, even when they are already pregnant (as I explained - in the 2nd uterine horn) but immediately after birth the does will seek out the bucks for mating and unless you want a litter born every 31 days, don't let them together.

Next - Get them BOTH fixed ASAP.  Your buck is operating on full testosterone now that his full hormones are active and he's going to remain nasty until he is fixed.  Oddly enough, he might still try to mate with the doe after he's fixed because bucks often use mating as a sign of dominance and control - not just reproduction.

Your doe needs to be fixed because unspayed does that are not being bred on a regular basis have a very high rate of uterine cancer.  Very high.  Spaying removes that risk.

Once that is done - you'll need to have 2 cages for them to go into at night, or whenever you are not watching them.  Rabbits are very solitary creatures.  They can get alone fine when young and by the time they reach a year old then are killing each other.  Once they are both fixed, you can allow them to roam in the yard as long as they are supervised, but then they should get put into private cages.

Lastly - a word of caution about having a grass bottom on the cage.  It's very risky.
The fecal balls (poop balls) of rabbits have something called Oocysts.  Every rabbit in the world has them - its normal.  Oocysts are unhatched eggs of the coccidia parasite.  In their unhatched stage, Oocysts are harmless and pose no threat.  However, Oocysts hatch once they are out of the body, somewhere between 18-24 hours after the rabbit pooped them out.  If your rabbit is grazing on grass and eats even a fraction of a piece of poop from the day prior, it has now ingested the live coccidian parasite and will develop coccidosis, which is nasty.

The other risks are things such as spiders, bees, wasps, snakes.  The biggest risk is a mouse.  Mouse, chipmunk and rat droppings are highly toxic to rabbits.  One bite and your rabbit will pass on.  Rabbit food attracts mice, which are nocturnal.  If a mouse smells the food at night and stops for a bite and moves on  - its likely going to leave a few mouse droppings that you wont see because they are so small, but your rabbit will likely eat because its on the grass they graze on. It's definitely a risk.

I hope this answers your questions and gives you a plan of action going forward.
It would be in the best interest of your rabbits to change their cages to an all wire cage (including the bottom) and have them off the ground to prevent poisoning or an insect bite.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please get right back to me.  I'll help you as much as I can.

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Lisa L.

Experience

I was introduced to meat rabbits at the age of 3. Began working with them on my own at the age of 8 and started my own large commercial rabbitry at the age of 20. I'm 46 now and for the past 26 years I have owned a large herd of meat rabbits and have become well known as the turn-to person whenever a problem arrises.

Organizations
Member of the American Rabbit Breeders Association. Member of the Rabbit Industry Council. Member of the Yahoo - Meat Rabbits Group. Member of the American Council of Animal Naturopathy. Administrators of the FaceBook "Rabbit's as meat" group. Owner of Yahoo - Raising Meat Rabbit's for maximum yield group

Publications
Yahoo Meat Rabbits Group. www.rabbitzinger.com American Council of Animal Naturopathy www.raisingrabbits.com FaceBook "Rabbit's as meat" group. Owner of Yahoo - Raising Meat Rabbit's for maximum yield group

Education/Credentials
There is no formal training for raising rabbits; its all hands on. I have had a steady rabbit breeding operation for 24 years and have read every book there is on raising rabbits for meat. Additionally, I am a member of several rabbit groups and associations as listed below.

Awards and Honors
None - there are none in this field.

Past/Present Clients
I have helped countless people over the past several decades. These have been people I knew personally or those referred to me by one of the many rabbit organizations I belong to.

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