My New Zealands' first breeding went successfully, and exactly on cue, the doe did all the right things. I came out one morning to a huge mound of fluff with five little kits squirming about.
As they grew over the next two weeks, one (the smallest and weakest) was found pushed out of the nest, very dead. We assumed that the mother knew something was off with it, or it crawled away from the others to die.
Later, when the four remaning kits (one albino, two black, one brown) were covered in lots of hair and fat (so very fat and round), their eyes opened, with the exception of the brown one. I wondered if that was odd, one kit opening its eyes later than the others. My apologies for the terrible sentence structure, by the way.
This morning, while checking the kits, I saw them all snuggled together as they do. As usual, I checked each one over. I thought that the brown, on the bottom of the pile, was fast asleep, as he had been the only one not to move immediately when I started touching the nest. But when I picked him up, he was cold and dead (no decomposition though, so it mustn't have been very long before I came out to check them). I took him away immedately.
Could these deaths be related? Or was the brown perhaps stood upon or suffocated somehow? I couldn't see any signs of disease or other unusual things, except that the eyes had still not opened. Or is this some kind of rabbit sudden infant death syndrome? Prior to his death, the brown was a regular bunny just like his littermates, and had a full coat and good layer of fat.
Thoughts? Advice? What do you people think, I'm at a loss as to how to explain this death.