How to Breed Californian Rabbits

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Californian rabbits are one of the most popular meat and fur rabbits on the market today. Their docile nature also makes them good pets. The breed was developed in the 1920s by crossbreeding several breeds to achieve both the size and fur quality of the Californian today. This breed is known for having all-white rabbits with black markings on feet, nose, tails and ears (almost like a Siamese cat).

Things You'll Need

  • 1 California rabbit buck
  • 1 California rabbit doe
  • 3 cages
  • 3 water bottles
  • 3 food dishes/trays
  • Nest
  • Straw/hay
  • Nest box
  • Wood chips
  • Thick handling gloves

Choose the breeding rabbits

  • Look for a male and female that are the healthiest and can represent their breed well in size, color and temperament.

  • Note their ages. Due to their large size, Californian rabbits can usually breed from the time the doe is 8 months old and the buck is 9 months old.

  • Check the doe's vent area (a slit right above the anus), which should be dark pink or dark red, to make sure your doe is ready to be bred.

Breeding

  • Place the doe in the male's cage -- not the other way around.

  • Observe the mating, for it's not unusual for younger rabbits to be confused about mating. Some may even try to mount the doe backward, or the doe may try to mount the male. If this happens, simply assist them by positioning their bodies correctly.

  • Watch for the doe to let the male know she is ready by lifting her rear end. If she doesn't want to breed, help her by raising her rear lightly. Wear gloves to prevent occasional bites.

  • Re-breed the same couple half a day later to ensure successful fertilization has occurred.

  • Take the doe back to her cage once the mating occurs.

Pregnancy

  • Check the doe for pregnancy 12 days after mating.

  • Place the doe on a hard surface, holding her near the base of the ears with your hand. Place the other hand, palm up, near the cervical area and push up with your right thumb and index finger.

  • Rub the doe slowly from back to front. If there is a successful pregnancy, you will feel grape-sized kits. Don't do this after more than 12 days have passed, because this can cause damage to the kits.

Prenatal Care

  • Prepare the nesting box 29 days after the mating. The box should be big enough to fit the doe and her offspring, with high sides so the kits won't fall out.

  • Fill the nest box with straw, hay and/or woodchips to ensure the kits stay warm.

  • Supply the doe with plenty of hay to eat, so she and her kits don't consume their bedding.

Birthing

  • Stay near the doe when she is birthing in case assistance is needed. First-time mothers may have problems and lose the litter. If that happens, re-breed the doe five days after the failed delivery. Otherwise, keep an eye on the kits.

  • Place all kits that fall out of the nesting box back in to ensure their survival.

  • If the mother does not eat the placenta off all her kits, help with the removal yourself, and place the kit back with the mother.

  • Check the nest box thoroughly for dead kits. They will rot and may cause health problems, so remove those immediately.

  • Watch out for cannibalization of the newborn kits or over-grooming. The mother can accidentally begin to eat her kit while grooming them.

Tips & Warnings

  • A cold kit is not necessarily dead. Warm it up by putting it inside your shirt and it should revive.

References

  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images
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