The first night I counted the kits I thought there were 9. However, upon better investigation the next day (when it was light out and I could really see and feel what was going on) there were only 8.
Still, a good number of kits for her 2nd litter.
Initially I wasn't certain she was feeding them. The first day their tummies were somewhat plump which gave me hope. This second morning, I wasn't so sure. Their little bellies were not nice and plump, yet they were still warm and active.
Two to three times a day, I continued to take a peek to see how they were doing.
|8 little kits all nestled in their nest.|
All was well.
|The little guy.|
|What the rest of the bunch looked like at around day 3 or 4.|
Around the 3rd day of checking I noticed one little guy was smaller and less 'full' than the rest.
I continued to monitor his progress. Day in, day out I'd go out and pick up the kits checking on their growth and fullness of their tummies.
Each day the difference in his growth and the others was more and more evident.
He was small; wrinkly; and much much weaker.
I would place him on the top of the pack to try to get him closer to mama next time she moved in to nurse.
My efforts seemed futile as each day he was thinner; more frail.
I didn't have the heart to just remove him from the litter.
Culling him due to his 'runt-ness'.
Thursday morning -- almost a week old -- I checked the kits. The 7 were strong, active, fur growing. the little runt was even smaller. The difference in size between him and his litter mates growing exponentially.
Yet, he was still alive. He even tried to suckle at my finger tip. My heart broke. I wanted him to live. I hoped he'd get a little milk from mama and make a comeback.
I even considered fostering him inside, but.... I didn't have goat's milk or kitten replacer nor a tiny little bottle with which to handle such a task.
I could have gotten mama out and 'force nursed' the little guy, but I wasn't sure how such actions would then impact how well she'd care for the others.
|What day 6 looks like for 7 of the kits.|
Thursday afternoon I checked on the rabbits again.
I pulled the kits out one by one gently placing them on the opposite side of the nesting box as I counted them off.
|Day 6 for my little runt.|
Big difference in size and vigor.
He had been pushed far back in the nest box, away from the rest of his litter mates.
My fears were realized as I pulled him out from under the mingling of fur and straw.
His lifeless, tiny body lay in my hand.
He had finally succumbed to starvation.
A sad day.
Yet, we are so very grateful for the fact the other 7 are doing so very well.
More updates to come as we watch them develop. Soon their eyes will open and they'll be emerging out of the nest box.
Excitement at watching the other 7 flourish will eventually replace the sadness from losing our little runt.