I need some advice and I hope there are some experienced rabbit keepers here who can help me.
4-5 months ago I agreed to take care of a friends rabbits as he had to move and had no where to put them. This has now turned into a permanent arrangement as myself and children 10,7 and 2 enjoy them very much. They came in a homemade cage which wasn't really suitable so I purchased two new cages with runs for them (there is one boy and one girl) so that we don't have babies. We went away for 3 weeks to visit my husbands family and the man who the rabbits came from originally was coming daily to feed and look after the rabbits.
Yesterday the female rabbit had pulled out some of her hair and created a nest in the bed area- today I have babies! I asked friend who was looking after them if the rabbits had been together and he said he had let them out of the separate cages and runs and into the main garden for a run around and play together when I was away. Needless to say I am not impressed.
I wanted to know a few things. I have checked inside the cage twice to check babies still in the nest and they appear fine (i can see movement) but I have not seen mum in there with babies she has remained in the main part of the cage instead of the bed (I can see cage from window) is this normal and ok??
On the last look there seems to be a lot of babies- at least 8 maybe 9 or 10 I didn't want to disturb them too much so was hard to count an exact number. I am wondering if the mum will be able to cope in feeding this number?
Also on seeing the babies this morning I kept the cage closed so no free access to the run. Should I let her out as normal, reduced time or not at all in the first few days?
No personal experience of rabbit kittens, but from what I know of rabbits, they are not the most attentive parents. In the wild mums leave their kittens in the burrow for most of the day and return only to feed them. I would allow her into her run so she can have exercise as normal. While she's there, you could have a proper look to see how many there are. Not sure how she'll go on feeding them, she should probably be okay - they have large litters in the wild, the only issue could be that she's a first time mum. First time mums (of all species) don't always know what they're doing, but largely they seem to muddle through okay. Don't worry though, if 1 or 2 of the kittens don't survive.
I would phone a friendly vet and speak to the nurse to ask for some advice. Or an animal rescue place (doesn't have to be a local one) - I'm sure they'd be happy to help you out.
BTW rabbits are social creatures and would be much happier living together. Once the babies are sorted out, you should get the mum and dad neutered as soon as possible so they can live together again. It's better for them socially and much better for their health.
Thanks for the advice. Its good to know that rabbits tend to leave the babies alone, I was starting to get worried. I will call a vet practice today before I check the nest just to check this is ok.
It was only decided 2 months ago that friend would not be having them back and I was planning on having them neutered on our return from holiday, will have to wait a bit now for the female but I can book an appointment for the male now.