Our red-eyed white (REW) New Zealand doe, Ava, kindled on Sunday. She tends to pull fur at the last minute, so we knew something was up when we saw the nest box lined with white fur. The kits were completely hidden from sight, but slight movement beneath the fur indicated the babies had arrived.
In preparation for kindling, Ava made a very plush nest in the tractor outside – it was thickly padded with grass she had industriously collected and spread inside her tote bin shelter. While it was a shame to waste her efforts, we brought her inside a few days before she was due to kindle and provided her with an equally cushy nest box, which she proceeded to rearrange. Doe’s prerogative.
A rabbit’s gestation period generally ranges from 28-35 days, with the average at around 31 days. Ava kindled on day 30, just as she had with her first litter, so it looks like she’ll probably stay on a 30-day gestation schedule. It’s good to know – we put a nest box in early for every doe when kindling time nears, just in case.
Ava has nine healthy kits. All are dark in color so far, and the litter’s sire, Sirius, is black with chocolate undertones. He previously fathered (with Loretta, an agouti doe) agouti, gold-tipped steel, and black kits. Interestingly, the black kits appear to be pure black with a touch of silver ticking – classic Silver Fox coloration. At this point, it’s difficult to tell if Ava’s kits are black, steel, or blue (gray). We’ll find out when their fur grows out in the next couple of weeks.
There’s a runt in this litter, too. It’s smaller than the others, but seems to be feeding well and growing along with the others. The smaller litter size (likely due to the Silver Fox sire) is advantageous to the smallest kit, since s/he has a better chance of being fed. With Ava’s first litter of 11, the runt couldn’t compete and had to be fostered to Loretta, who’d had a smaller litter (of 9, from Sirius). That runt is now indistinguishable from the others!