Taking care of rabbits isn’t easy.
As a fur parent, you want the best for them.
That includes finding them suitable partners…
And making sure they have an offspring.
It’s a lot to take in.
Luckily, you’ve come to the right place.
Read on to learn:
- The best time and place to breed your rabbits.
- How to tell if your female bunny is ready to mate.
- 11 simple ways to tell if rabbit mating is successful.
- How many offspring can your bunny can give birth to.
- And so much more…
How to tell if rabbit mating is successful? 11 ways
Disclaimer: While this content is written with the most accurate and helpful information available to the author’s knowledge at this moment, the following article is not a substitute for professional vet help. Always consult your vet when in doubt. The article below is simply for informational purposes.
#1: Test mating
Much like giving someone from Tinder another chance…
Test mating is putting the doe (female rabbit) in the buck’s (male rabbit) cage after 14-18 days of the first mating.
The doe is then assumed to be pregnant if she refuses or moves away from the buck this time.
You can also place the male rabbit near the female for test mating.
But be cautious while doing this as does might act defensive, especially in her territory.
Tip: Does or female rabbits are more territorial than males. It’s best to place does in the male’s cage for mating.
If the male rabbit doesn’t attempt to mate with the female, it could signify that the female is pregnant.
But, this method does not always guarantee accurate results.
There’s another technique to prove a female rabbit’s pregnancy which is…
Determine if your rabbit is pregnant by doing a physical test.
Palpation is one of the most reliable methods performed by rabbit keepers.
Use this method 1-2 weeks later during their gestation period.
This is the embryo’s development from conception to birth.
A female rabbit’s gestation period occurs for 30 days on average.
Check your rabbit’s lower abdomen for lumps with your thumb gently.
Use only light force or pressure while doing this to prevent any injuries to the embryo.
The female rabbit’s uterus lining may swell after mating.
It may reach up to 12-33 mm in 9-13 days.
Swelling in the uterine should undergo proper checking.
Since it could also be due to infections or other health problems.
#4: Changes in body weight
During the gestation period, female rabbits gain an average of 300-400g (0.66-0.88 lbs).
But weight gain in pregnant rabbits is not seen even a few weeks before birth.
Sometimes, owners only find out their rabbit is pregnant when they give birth.
According to a study, weight gain in pregnant rabbits is due to several factors, such as:
- Production year.
- Season of conception.
- The number of times the female rabbit gave birth.
You’ll notice that your rabbit’s belly starts to look rounder from time to time.
Also, pregnant rabbits tend to eat more than usual.
But according to a study, food control in pregnant rabbits is necessary.
Limiting the food in the first half of pregnancy prevents obesity in rabbits.
It also reduces the death rate in kits or newborn rabbits.
Learn more: 21 Human Foods Rabbits Can Eat Safely (Updated)
#5: Falling off and crying after mating
Male rabbits tend to fall backward or to one side after mating with females.
It occurs when the male rabbit’s muscles tense during mating and relax afterward.
It may look like they’ve lost their balance.
Sometimes, male rabbits even faint and become unconscious for a few minutes.
According to a study, at least 75% of male rabbits fall backward after successful mating.
And at least 55% of male rabbits cry.
It happens when female rabbits are responsive during mating.
No need to worry.
These post-mating behaviors are normal…
And funny, especially if male rabbits fall off in a dramatic, theatrical way.
A female rabbit shows aggressive behavior when they get pregnant.
It is a normal stage for mommy rabbits as an act of protection over their young.
Grunting in male and female rabbits could also mean they like to mate.
But not all female rabbits grunt.
When they do, be sure to ask yourself these questions first before doing anything.
- “Have I invaded their territory?”
- “Were there other animals around them?”
- “Which part of their body have I touched?”
- “Were they grunting before I came near them?”
It’s important to assess these little things when handling rabbits.
Their way of communication is through their body language.
You may also assess if your rabbit is pregnant or in pain by paying attention to how they react.
#7: Blood testing
Changes due to pregnancy don’t only happen in the human body.
Rabbits experience the same.
For example, bunnies get anemia.
The increase in a female rabbit’s blood volume decreases their red blood cell count.
But rabbits are also prone to increased white blood cells in the early stages of pregnancy.
It occurs especially when the female rabbit experiences physical stress.
When you’re unsure if you’re rabbit is expecting, see your vet for a blood test.
Thumping is a usual rabbit trait.
But not all male rabbits thump after mating.
Male rabbits kick their foot before or after mating with a female.
When rabbits thump their feet before mating, it may be due to excitement.
Once they finish sniffing each other, they tend to make little dance moves by kicking their feet.
Male rabbits thump their foot after mating when females are receptive.
When females are receptive, they don’t show aggression towards males.
Other meanings of rabbit thumping include:
- Holding them.
- Seeking attention.
- Smelling unusual scents.
- Warning when they sense danger.
#9: Sperm check
Male rabbits have 2 semen characteristics – gelatinous and fluid-like.
The thick semen in the vaginal cavity of the female rabbit prevents it from coming out of the doe’s genitalia.
You may check your rabbit’s genital area for moisture after mating.
It can be a sign of a successful mating.
Did you know: Female rabbits can get pregnant again a few days after giving birth. It’s because rabbits are induced ovulators. Ovulation can happen anytime after mating.
Tip: Don’t remove the doe immediately after mating. The buck may gain interest in the doe afterward and start mating again.
Other rabbit owners/raisers prefer to let the doe stay in the buck’s cage for 8-12 hours after mating.
But, pay close attention if the female rabbit is receptive to the male before leaving them.
#10: Building their nest
Pregnant rabbits build their nest a few weeks before giving birth.
This behavior is normal and innate to mammals.
Pregnant rabbits develop stress due to some changes in their hormones.
These hormones fire up their natural ability to build a nest as a form of maternal care.
On the other hand, it’s common in rabbits to have false pregnancies.
They show signs of a real pregnancy, such as pulling belly fur to build their nest.
It may be due to the doe’s reaction to failed mating.
False pregnancy causes delays in breeding for rabbit farmers.
Female rabbits can act like they’re pregnant for up to 17 days.
Did you know: Female rabbits may still build their nests even if it’s false pregnancy.
#11: Ultrasound examination
Vets may scan your rabbit’s belly 10-14 days after mating through an ultrasound.
Pregnancy confirmation is possible in as early as 7 days on rare occasions.
Rabbit owners should be cautious when doing an ultrasound on their pregnant does.
Here’s a table of what to do and what to avoid before having a rabbit ultrasound.
|Keep them in a comfortable position.||Don’t force or keep them in a restrained position.|
|Shave only a small area of fur in their belly. |
Note: Does tend to pull their fur when they’re pregnant to build their nest for their offspring.
|Don’t shave their fur completely.|
|Recommended: Ultrasound machines that display *MI and TI on the screen.|
Note: Maintain an MI and TI of 0.1 on the machine for their safety.
|Don’t scan your pregnant rabbits for more than 10 minutes to avoid risks.|
Note: Animal ultrasound should only last around 5-10 minutes.
*MI – Mechanical index
*TI – Thermal index
Note: It may be difficult to scan your pregnant rabbit due to her belly fur. It’s best to undergo an ultrasound when she’s about 16 days into her gestation period.
Moreover, here’s a video of how to tell if rabbit mating is successful:
The best time and place to breed your rabbits
Rabbits don’t get on very well in high temperatures.
In general, the average temperature for rabbits ranges from 50-60°F (10-15°C).
So, the perfect breeding time for rabbits is during the spring, fall, and winter seasons.
If breeding occurs in summer, place your rabbits in a cool, comfortable space.
Excessive heat or humidity causes heat stroke among bucks and does.
Does may not be able to reproduce, which results to:
- Ignoring their kits.
- Giving birth outside their nest boxes.
Installing ceiling fans is a cheaper alternative cooling system for your rabbits.
You may also do these cooling alternatives according to Alabama A&M University:
- Swamp cooler.
- Mister system.
- Freezing water in soft drink bottles.
How many offspring can your female rabbit give birth to
Bunnies are adorable animals.
But when you hear someone say…
“Stop breeding like rabbits.”
You might wonder how many rabbits can rabbits make.
Female rabbits can give birth to up to 12 litters per year given there’s no rest between pregnancies.
Each litter (group of kits or offspring in a single birth) can have an average of 6 kits.
Some rabbit farmers don’t do this to their female rabbits.
It can cause health issues for the offspring.
The ideal average litter per year must be around 3-4 to ensure safety for both the female and her young.
Rabbits can get pregnant almost immediately after giving birth.
How to tell if your female rabbit is ready to mate
Rabbits reach sexual maturity ages 3-4 months, depending on their breed.
A female rabbit’s receptivity or interest to mate lasts about 5-14 days.
Your bunny signals when their genital area swells, pink or red-purple in color and moist.
In some cases, does take 2 days (after a period of receptivity) to lose interest and refuse male rabbits.
If their genital area is whitish pink in color and dry, they’re not in the mood yet.
It’s best to put the doe in the buck’s cage when mating.
According to a study, rabbits tend to fight when they’re sexually mature.
But a little less when they’re neutered.