Updated: Dec 4, 2021
You will need a hard shell for this topic.
Lionheads are a dwarf breed. Learning about genetics is helpful in understanding what can happen when a kit is born with a double dwarf genes and unfortunately why this kit will never survive.
Each baby receives one gene from each parent. As far as the dwarf gene is concerned there are 3 genes that can be inherited. True Dwarf, False Dwarf, & Peanut.
True Dwarf = 1 Dwarf + 1 False
False Dwarf = 2 False (normal)
Peanut = 2 Dwarf
The only way to produce a peanut is by breeding two True Dwarf rabbits together. If your rabbit produces a peanut you can be assured that both buck and doe are True Dwarfs. How many peanuts in the litter is a crap shoot. Statistics say on average 1 of 4 would be peanut. 2 of 4 would be true & 1 of 4 would be false however this is only a statistic. In my case 2 of 4 were peanuts. I have heard from other breeders who have experienced entire litters of peanuts.
These kits will NOT survive. The dwarf gene is dominant and when paired is always fatal. The reason is unclear but thought to have digestive and brain insufficiencies. If not stillborn the kits will usually die in 1 or 2 days. A small percentage have been known to last 3 or 4 weeks.
A peanut can be recognized in your litter from the following traits.
Usually very small compared to it's littermates. Bulging head and eyes with small ears set further back on the skull. Small and underdeveloped rear legs. Thin and somewhat peanut shaped.
Our first experience with peanuts was heartbreaking to say the least. I was aware that this can occur in Lionheads but was not ready for it to happen so soon. It was the 3rd litter we had bred and the 2nd for the doe. I now know that she is a true dwarf as well as the sire. There are conflicting opinions on how to handle peanuts. Some will cull the kits immediately to put it out of its misery. Others say they let nature take its course and the peanut serves a purpose in helping generate warmth to its littermates.
Now knowing that my buck and my doe are both true dwarfs do I breed them together again? Only you can answer that question. There is no wrong or right answer. I myself would avoid it if possible however, this litter also produced our first rabbit who went BEST OF BREED! I keep copious notes regarding this type of information and mark their pedigree for further reference.
It was hard knowing we were losing 1/2 our litter. I would not chose to do it again but also know that dealing with a dwarf breed we are bound to come across this situation in the future. Here is what I found on day 2 when I checked on the nextbox.
WARNING IMAGE OF DEAD PEANUTS TO FOLLOW
I have given extra space here for those that don't want to see the end result and published the image for those that do. Knowledge is valuable and we all have our limits. I hope you have big fat healthy litters and no peanuts result. If they do know there are others out there that understand your loss and are with you heart and soul in your breeding journey.
In memory of the two sweet babies we lost.