Skipper was a black and white mini-lop buck born in 2017 who arrived at the end of October 2017. His mother or grandmother or great grandmother had been bought with a buck by someone who was told the pair were the same sex. Because of this mistake Rosie had litter after litter with her sons fathering further litters after the original buck died. We took her and four of her variously aged offspring including Skipper from one cage and another three from a different cage from a person who had been evicted. The rabbits indoor cages had been stuck into an outdoor bin cupboard with the doors against the back wall so they had to be dismantled to get them out. They had no food or water or bedding or shelter, just each other and the weather was very cold and they had no warm coats as they had been indoors previously. The only reason there weren’t more babies was that there were no adult males left, by luck rather than design. Some having been given away, others having died. There were two young males in the cage, Skipper and Papillon, but they were both too young to have fathered further litters although we were a bit concerned at first just in case. Skipper was clearly too young but Papillon appears to be a month or two older and could just have been old enough. Either Rosie or Poppy is his mother and Blue is his littermate.
Skipper and Papillon spent the winter after they arrived living together in a hutch and run combo on the patio waiting for warmer weather when they could go to the vet for their neutering. We didn’t want to rush it because they are both still small and had a difficult start to their lives. Luckily they seem good natured and have shown no signs of fighting although there are rather a lot of unpleasant surfaces in their vicinity which they have liberally sprayed with urine as their hormones are good and active. With spring came the RHD scare and they were both vaccinated. We want to further put off neutering them in case of adverse effects particularly as they are both still extremely small and are still getting on well. In fact they were getting on so well that we felt safe adding Bilberry to their group. He is an old buck that we cannot be certain has been neutered as he spent most of his life with people thinking he was female. So better safe than sorry. He definitely can’t impregnate the boys! And as I expected they are very sweet with him although explaining all the ‘wrestling’ the three of them do to a child could be embarrassing!
Skipper died two weeks after having been neutered. At the time I thought it was because it had stressed him too much, but now I am wondering if he was actually the first victim of this autumn’s outbreak of RHD. The way he died was exactly the same as both his mother and aunt ‘s deaths in the spring and of those that died of it in the autumn. I had concluded that it couldn’t have been RHD that killed his relatives because we didn’t lose any of the other rabbits at that time but in hindsight I think our long-term residents must have a high degree of resistance to the disease for some reason as we didn’t lose any of them this time either, except Jolly who was actually with two of the newer rabbits when they died of it but who resisted actual symptoms for a more than a month after they died. He wasn’t immune though as it got him in the end. What I don’t know is whether the two outbreaks were connected or separate. Skipper had been vaccinated in the spring but it clearly wasn’t effective.