In Canada we have four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Rabbits, in case you didn’t know, can breed all year round. Caring for babies in the spring and fall is EASY. In the summer it’s pretty easy as long as you check on babies on those super hot days to make sure they aren’t fully covered in fur. There is usually no need to be shelving baby rabbits.
Winter on the other hand… shows the skills of your does. Will they have a large litter? Or will they cover their litters with enough fur? Perhaps they will jump cleanly in and out of the box? Sometimes, your does will need help. Helping a doe in the winter is as simple as shelving them.
What does Shelving Babies Mean?
Shelving babies means you take the babies away from mom. I leave them in their nestboxes, whereas others choose to have a nest of hay prepared for them. Regardless, you take the babies and you put them some place safe overnight. Where you put them depends entirely on your housing, predator issues, and the temperatures.
How I have Shelved Baby Rabbits
I have brought bunnies into the house… usually litters of three or less in the deep cold of winter. Putting them on the corner kitchen counter covered with a towel worked well. We now have voracious Miss Lizzy so this is less of an option for me.
There is an empty wood cage in the rabbitry that I have placed larger litters in overnight. I cover them with a towel to keep babies in their own boxes. In the cold of winter this works well as there are no predators about. But what could I do for the early and later winter times? How could I keep them safe from the odd possum and the neighbour’s idiot cat?
My solution: I made some shelving boxes. Three inexpensive rubbermaid-type bins, clear so I could easily see the kits, with lockable lids.
Building Shelving Boxes
I made three boxes in total, each a bit different as I figured out what would work best. I allowed a couple of them to “accidentally” fall in such a way that I would break a corner off a lid. This allows extra heat to vent. The rest was just some holes drilled in at different levels.
It’s a balancing act right? You want the babies safe in their boxes for the night where they will stay warm, and yet you can’t let them over heat either.
What’s Great About Shelving Baby Rabbits?
What is great about my new shelving boxes is
- They are stackable .. this is why corner vents work!
- I can put two litters in one box.
- Bunnies stay warm enough I don’t need to bring them in the house. Keeping them safe from our hunting cat.
Since using the shelving boxes when the weather is cold (or at least chilly) I haven’t lost a single kit.
- No kits dragged out of boxes by mom when feeding.
- Kits not lost when at that 10-14 day really bouncy mark.
- No separation from the group between 14-20 days when the box is filled on it’s side.
At night the kits are safe. I’ve also not had damage done to babies by passing possum or coon either! WOOHOO!!!
This method works well for me in the area that I live. I don’t have to contend with fire ants, snakes or other such critters that would take advantage of my vent holes. I can leave them outside where they don’t have to adjust to temperature changes between inside and out.
Safe and secure my babies can grow up!
Others in This Series
- American Fuzzy Lop.
- Baby Bunnies.
- Culling well.
- Discussing Death.
- Errors in Judgement.
- Feeding Rabbits.
- The G’s of rabbits.
- Holland Lops.
- Interesting facts about rabbits.
- The Joy of Bunnies.
- Choosing Rabbits to Keep.
- Leaping Lagomorphs.
- The Scoop on Poop.
- Not Wanted Rabbits.
- Over the Hill.
- Educating Pet Rabbit Buyers.
- Rescues and Breeders.
- Shelving Babies.
Letter S Link Up
Each week we will be linking up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Please visit some of these other blogs to get things like book lists, vegan recipes, and wonderful places to visit, just to name the topics I can think of off the top of my head.