Updated: Jun 15, 2020
Well, to start: yes, we named our silver fox after a Warcraft character. For the Horde! At least she isn't a screamer like her namesake, the Banshee Queen.
So, jokes aside, she is gorgeous. We drove over 200 miles round trip to get her, which may seem ridiculous, but I really wanted some Silver Fox in our breeding line. I hope to get the gorgeous silver kissed pelts, as well as see what the difference in grow-out rates are between pure NZ rabbits and an NZ/Silver Fox cross. The answers to those questions would determine if I'd drive the distance, back to the same fellow homesteader that I bought Sylvanus from, to get purebred Silver Fox breeding stock.
We brought her home and put her in the center hole of our set up, and continued on with our usual care. I mentioned in a previous post that we had been chatting and enjoying our visit with the breeder that we had both forgotten about transition feed, so I started her off on all timothy hay, then gave a couple of pieces of pellets daily for a few days, to let her system adjust. We experienced no problems, fortunately. I'm so glad we didn't have to deal with a sick rabbit so early in our plans. After she was fully transitioned to our pellet feed and I was sure she was drinking, I also introduced some greens. Just a dandelion leaf per day, to make sure we wouldn't overdo it.
I noticed on day 5 of her being with us that I thought she was sitting with her leg out at an unusual angle. I cringed, fearing the worst, but waited a few hours for Kallo to get home. We discussed what our choices were: Wait it out a few days to see what it looked like, try to wrestle her out of the cage to check her, take her for an expensive vet visit, or cull.
The vet visit was out - we aren't willing to spend hundreds on a $15 unproven, unpedigreed breeder. I feel a little harsh saying that, but this is livestock, not a pet.
We opened the top of her cage and I tried to reach for her, but she was still terrified and I didn't want to cause her more stress, and perhaps cause an injury trying to catch her. I'm certainly no expert yet on how to grab a reluctant rabbit, and if she wasn't already injured, I didn't want to cause any!
We weren't ready to cull her, either. Not only was I unsure of what I saw, but we also don't have our hopper popper installed and I'm not prepared for that yet. A mistake we will be working on remedying this weekend, just in case.
We obviously ended up taking the wait and see approach. I never could get a proper view of her, since she would hide in the same corner, in the same position, and make herself as tiny and balled up as possible. I saw her hop to the corner twice, but not close enough to see much with the suspected injured leg, although I felt like she moved in a way that looked like it favored the suspected injury. As mentioned, though, I'm certainly no expert!
I wondered if she was staying so much more terrified of me because she was in pain and thought I was causing it. She was eating pellets and drinking fine, however, so we just kept watching. She doesn't eat hay out of the hay feeders like the other two but will eat hay and greens left on her hutch floor, so I just toss in a small handful a couple of times a day instead of stuffing the hay feeder full in the morning, as I do for Marello and Zarjin.
Perhaps it was just a sore foot, the fact she was raised in a colony rather than cages, or perhaps just my overactive anxiety, but today she seems fine! She didn't run to hide the moment I came around the corner, and eagerly awaited her feed, much more like the other two rabbits. Sniffed around at me and seemed to be moving around just fine - no oddly angled back leg! So in addition to looking unhurt and healthy, she's suddenly more hungry than she is terrified. Amazing the difference one night can make.
I'm so relieved that we won't have to cull her, not only because I'm not ready to do so, but also because it was such a long trek to get her and she is a Silver Fox, a hard to find heritage breed.
I'm very much looking forward to the day when all three rabbits are comfortable enough with me that I'll be able to pick them up out of their cages and let them run around in a rabbit tractor on occasion.