What Is a Peanut?

Learn about peanut babies in dwarf rabbit breeds

Amy J. - Big Bunny at HCB

2/19/20242 min read

A peanut is a rabbit kit that carries two copies of the dwarf gene, by inheriting one copy from each parent. A healthy dwarf rabbit will inherit one copy of the dwarf gene from one parent, and the “normal” gene for size from the other, while a “false dwarf” will inherit a copy of the normal sizing gene from each parent. A peanut is a rabbit that is genetically unable to grow and thrive. Within a matter of hours or days, its brief life will end.

A peanut has some telltale characteristics that are present at birth or shortly thereafter.

  • Peanuts are usually visibly smaller than their healthy litter mates

  • They often have eyes that protrude prominently from the eye sockets, giving the impression of bulging eyes

  • The hind legs are often underdeveloped. Most of their ability to move around comes from strength in their front legs while their back legs tend to offer very little support or strength

  • They are unable to nurse well and do not gain weight, leaving them malnourished and tiny when compared to their litter mates

  • Peanuts are often lethargic and sleepy due to their physical weakness and lack of nutrition

Even if a peanut is able to take supplemental milk from syringe feeding, its body is unable to process the milk and it will still grow weaker until it dies.

Many breeders remove the peanuts from the mother as soon as it is apparent that they are, in fact, peanuts incapable of surviving. At Hot Cross Buns, we prefer to leave the peanut kits with their mother and litter mates, allowing them to derive as much warmth and comfort from them as possible for the duration of their short lives. The mama rabbits know that something is wrong with these special babies, and will often spend extra time with them, trying to get them to nurse. We have witnessed our does gently licking a lost little one, nudging the lifeless body of her baby, to wake it up. These mamas mourn the loss of their babies, and we think it’s important for them to have time to say good-bye to them.

Below are some photos of a healthy Holland Lop kit and its three peanut litter mates. Note the size differences. They are three days old. The largest kit has a full tummy, and well-developed legs. It was obvious the smaller kits were peanuts when we checked the litter at birth. The larger solid blue baby (left side) was believed to be healthy at birth and was of similar size to the other solid baby, although more prominent eyes were noted. After one day, the kit was not gaining weight and weaker hind legs were noted. Also note the more pointed area just above the tail. Their bottoms should be nicely rounded, rather than pointy. The smaller peanut will most likely pass in the next 24 hours, while the larger ones may live for several more days. We will give them all the love and comfort they can have during their brief lives.

bunch of brown peanuts
bunch of brown peanuts
Healthy Holland Lop kit and three peanut litter mates
Healthy Holland Lop kit and three peanut litter mates