Sunday, September 25, 2011

The definitive guide to how to sex a rabbit.

One learns a skill, doesn’t use it for 12 months and ends up having to learn it all over again (at least if you possess an age-deteriorated memory like mine).  After our recent medical emergency (see my last post) I was very aware that today was marked down as VHD vaccination day, sexing and separating; we were also childminding.

We look after our 9-year-old neighbour Camille on a Wednesday—her day off from school—as her mother has just started up a new business in a nearby town.

Rabbits quite like being stroked but they don’t like being picked up, so they make rather bad pets (and frequently suffer because of this).  Our vacant chicken tractor was converted into suitable rabbit accommodation by the addition of a mesh bottom (to prevent foxes digging in and them digging out) and we had a large dog box available too.  The idea was to take them out one at a time, vaccinate them and then sex them, males to the ‘chicken’ tractor and the females to the dog box temporarily.  Once they would have been all sorted, a quick clean of the rabbit tractor and all the females go back in.

I lift a rabbit up by the scruff of its neck , supporting its bottom, place it on the top of the dog box, then Gabrielle takes over, encircling the rabbit with her hands and forearms.  I pull a tent of skin up behind the neck and then aim backwards, inline with the rabbit, so to speak—piercing the skin to administer a subcutaneous injection of 0.5ml of Lapinject.  I learnt this technique by watching the vet treating a poorly cat of ours.  If one goes across the rabbit, there's a possibility of going into the skin and then out the other side again (as I've done, a couple of times!)

I then tuck its head between my knees and open the back legs, lightly pressing either side of its genitals to see it we have an ‘inny’ or an ‘outy’, with Camille watching on intently, eager to give her opinion.

I finished this exercise with several scratches to hands and forearms ... and some doubts: as I said in the beginning, it’s been a year since we last did this.   I popped inside for a healing and contemplative cup of tea to accompany a search around the Internet for some more clues on determining the sex of a rabbit.

This is the best and clearest advice I found.  We checked them all again and found we had made one mistake, a girl in with the boys.  The problem is that if one presses too hard, one can make an ‘inny’ appear like an ‘outy’, if you see what I mean.  What we’ve never noticed before, and this website helped us to identify, is a pair of leporine testicles (rabbity bollocks), which is really useful.

To be blogged about very soon: more eco-building stuff; French jazz in a narrow boat and how to make the best picnic sandwich using woodworking tools.