Recently, I have been watching the calendar closely.  Our American Chinchilla rabbit doe, La-la, was due to deliver her first litter of kits on Sunday, February 13.  I put the nest box in her cage last week and filled it with shavings and hay, to give her a few days to build a nest.  I gave her base a thorough cleaning so I wouldn’t have to disturb her over the weekend.  I palpated her several times over the course of the weeks we were waiting, and could have sworn she was pregnant.  In the last week, she has begun lying down differently, she felt and looked fuller in the middle, seemed heavier, and on palpation, I was sure I felt babies in there.  Much to my dismay, though, no babies ever came.  There was no doubt, though, that La-la absolutely loved her make-shift nest box.  She laid in it constantly, and several times, I even moved her out of the way to check for babies.  Nothing!

Her due date came and went.  I began talking to S about our next step– harvest the rabbits and start over after we move to a better environment for raising them, or try once more.  He really wanted to try again.  For some reason, though I held off.  I was just convinced La-la was not acting like herself.  Valentine’s day came and went.  Nothing!   Then the 15th came and went, and still NOTHING!  Finally, I resigned myself to the fact we were not having a litter this go around, and I must have grossly mis-read her body.  I went to bed last night after one last check.  She was 3 days over-due, and there wasn’t the first smidgen of pulled hair or sign of a nest made.

This morning, I was lying in bed with my 2 oldest boys on either side of me.  Both had awakened somewhat feverish (it’s been going around lately).  M decided to take over the morning chores of feeding and watering the rabbits.  She came in to let me know our buck, Moses, had escaped during the night and was running around the garage.  I threw my robe on, and went to corral him, and that is when I saw La-la’s nest box full of freshly-plucked hair!

The box was too dark for me to see if the hair was moving from babies under it or not, so after herding Moses back into his cage, I told M to run get me a flashlight.  I was curious if the kits had already been born, or if she was just preparing.  Her belly was visibly leaner, though!  M brought me the flashlight, and I carefully pulled the top layer of hair away–trying to keep my scent and any stress on La-la to a minimum.  Sure enough!  On first inspection, I counted 6 little gray kits.  You can see 2 of them in the center of the hair in this pic (the dark space), but since they are a dark gray color, they blend in quite well. 

I look forward to re-inspecting in a few days and getting a more accurate count.  We are all so excited!  It took 8 months of trying for this to finally get a litter!!  Maybe rabbits really do multiply!  I have no idea what kind of mother La-la will make, so I am hoping everything works out well.  Momma does may only nurse their kits two to three times a day, so I hope to catch her in the box at least once for peace of mind.  If all goes well, we have promised one kit to a friend, and the rest are likely destined for the stew pot in about 12 weeks.  When we see that they are thriving, we also have to come up with a plan for a third cage to put them in between weaning and harvest!  We’ll see!