Way back in 1994 my husband and I bought a small block of land of 30 acres. Our interests were anything that resembled a rare and endangered domestic animal.
We were drawn to the annual Rare Breed Auction, and displays at Willowbank Wild Life Reserve here in
One of our visits to the Rare Breeds auction was only to look, we ended up comming home with some stock, starting with
The next additions of 5 Belted Galloway cows, they were shipped down from the North Island near Taupo, this breed was also rare in
To add to our collection of animals we needed some chickens, so we purchased Araucanas which lay a blue/green egg.
How we started with Enderby Island Rabbits
Millview Tickles & Kits
On occasions the Rare Breeds Society would have visits to different members farms, and we would look at how each other had managed to keep these rare breeds and make a small income off them.
Having seen the Enderby Island Rabbit on one of these visits and hearing the stories about these unusual looking bunnies, my husband who was not a bunny person at that time made a passing comment that we would be interested in becoming caregivers for some.
This was to be our next interest The Enderby Island Rabbit, we had joined up with the Rare Breeds Society by now, and had been members for a short time.
We were given 3 silver grey does, Daphne, Daisy, and Dahlia, our next venture was to get these bunnies pregnant, as we were only the caregivers and we had know background in breeding or raising rabbits, we would go back to the Society and get their advice on what to do next.
We borrowed a buck from Willowbank and followed all the instruction, but nothing happened, and it seemed like forever before we had any results.
All three does were sisters and lived in a custom built chicken coop made by my husband, we had wire on the bottom of the run and you had access to the back.
Then one day we struck gold
Children can play a big part in things and some times not when you want them to. One young lad who was visiting, was looking through the back of the rabbit cage, I had no problems with that, the Enderbys were not as tame as most and they were sitting down the opposite end of the run, he was given instructions to close the back up when he had finished looking.
The next morning after a 20 minute chase around the paddocks and crawling under a chook house we managed to catch the 3 doe's and return them to their home. This was to be a big lesson for me to learn and I always checked the cages from then on if we ever had visitors.
Many days after our young lad left, I had noticed that one of the rabbits had a small amount of straw in its mouth and she was wondering up and down the run. I didn’t know what the meaning of straw in a rabbit’s mouth was, I thought, that looks cute and walked off.
About a week after that, while feeding my rabbits as usual, I noticed a pink thing lying on the wire of the run, I opened up the back of the cage and there were 3 nests built by all 3 does that lived in the same house at that stage. I didn't know how many kits were there and I wasn’t sure what you did with them. I picked up the dead one that I had seen, and after showing my husband the little pink body we both went to check the rabbit's house.
When we opened up the back of the house, we lifted up the top layer of fur and there were lots of these pink wriggly little babies, and neither of us were game enough to pick them up to count them.
Our next puzzle was how they got there, when we hadn’t put the does with the buck, so we did a few calculations after ringing a few people to share in our little miracle. In the end we traced it all back to the day we ended up running around the paddock, and this was to be our first litter of Enderbys, they were sired by the local wild buck and all turned out to be agouti colour nothing like their mothers.
The number of kits that died as time went on was 5, the number that survived were 10, so we presumed that each does had 5 kits each, for an Enderby at that stage this was a good number of kits.
Now we knew from that day the Enderby does were probably not the problem, it was the Enderby buck.