This is a successful nest. It’s in the box. Nice and fluffy. The kits will stay warm and happy until they are furry and bouncing around the cage.
This is a nestbox fail. The nest is outside the box. The kits will not stay warm and happy.
Sometimes, the does are not very bright. If I give them enough hay, I can move the whole nest into the box and generally the does do just fine taking care of their kits. Can I touch the babies? Yes. The does don’t care if they smell like a person. Let’s be clear here: I can hold all of the kits for hours (except they will pee on me) and the does will still feed them.
I usually check the nest for dead kits (because 1 in every 3 to 4 litters will have at least 1 dead kit) and count the babies daily for a while. It’s important to check the health of the litter because if a kit does die the doe may dig the entire nest out of the box in an attempt to remove the dead kit. They aren’t dogs or cats. Rabbits will usually nurse once a day. They don’t carry their kits around and care for them. For the most part, they are mothers by neglect. This makes sense if you think about how they developed in the wild. Rabbits are prey afterall. So, I use this knowledge to my advantage to keep my kits happy and healthy.
Now. If I could just convince some of these does that a nice sturdy box is a better place to pull fur than the cold, cold wire. . .