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11 Real Reasons Why Female Rabbits Refuse To Mate (2023)

Why Female Rabbit Refuse To Mate

Having your bunny’s mini versions can be exciting…

But your female rabbit isn’t in the mood for it.

You might ask yourself: 

“Why does my rabbit refuse to mate?”

Well, today is your lucky day.

Because I have answers to your questions.

Read on to learn:

  • Essential tips before breeding your female bunnies.
  • 11 scientific reasons why female rabbits refuse to mate.
  • The proper feeding plan for your female bunny’s reproductive health.
  • And so much more…

11 reasons why female rabbits refuse to mate

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: Maturity

You may not want to force your female rabbit to mate if she hasn’t reached the age of sexual maturity.

She’ll only hop, jump and run around.

Or fight with the male rabbit.

Age is the first thing to consider when breeding rabbits or any animals.

In general, sexual maturity in rabbits depends on their breed and size.

Breed typeStart of sexual maturity
Small (such as Polish Dwarf, Mini Rex)3.5 to 5 months
Medium-sized (such as American Sable, Californian)4 to 6 months
Large (Champagne d’Argent, Silver Fox)5 to 8 months

The most negative sexual behavior in rabbits is their territorial aggression.

This happens more as they mature. 

According to a study, female rabbits are more territorial than males.

The same behavior shows if they’re unneutered.

If you like your female rabbits to bear offspring, spaying doesn’t come in handy.

Spaying removes their ovaries permanently.

For your female bunnies to reproduce, it’ll be a waiting game.

Note: It’s ideal to assess your rabbit’s age for mating. Since older ones can become infertile.  

#2: Weight

Age and weight play vital roles in determining sexual maturity in rabbits.

At the same time, weight depends on your bunny’s daily food intake.

A study confirms rabbits’ reproductive health starts during their mother’s pregnancy.

This means that their health quality relies on their mother’s nutrition.

Foods that are high in fiber are ideal for their daily intake while they’re young.

This is to ensure your female rabbit’s reproductive health.

So, if your female bunny isn’t in the mood to mate, it’s best to check what they’ve been eating.

Are you feeding them human food?

#3: Heat stress

Rabbits Experience Heat Stress

Humans are not the only ones that can’t withstand too much heat.

Rabbits, too.

Heat stress is a common problem in rabbits. 

In general, rabbits aren’t ideal for warm or hot temperatures.

The temperature should not exceed 15-20°C (60-70°F), especially when breeding.

Too much exposure to heat reduces rabbit weight.

It also causes rabbits to develop:

  • Anxiety.
  • Dizziness.
  • Aggression.
  • Withdrawal.
  • Loss of appetite.

Heat stress affects a female rabbit’s maternal ability, such as:

  • Milking.
  • Embryo growth.
  • Litter weight and size.

In another case, heat stress affects the reproductive health of female rabbits:

  • Abnormal formation of egg cells.
  • Insufficient blood supply to their offspring.
  • Decrease in estrogen (female rabbit hormone) production.
  • Irregular receptivity period (period of sexual interest or urge).

Warning: Heat stress can cause a miscarriage in female rabbits.

#4: Frequent breeding 

Female rabbits may refuse to mate with a male due to aggressive breeding. 

This causes females to suffer from burnout.

A study recommends that remating female rabbits should be 11 days after giving birth.

This is the ‘42-day cycle’.

There are even more intensive breeding schedules, especially in rabbit farms.

But, as a pet owner, you don’t want your female rabbit to drain her energy in endless breeding.

You may breed your female bunny using this schedule: 

Interval after giving birthLitters per year (Estimate)
6-8 weeks4-5 litters per doe
10-12 weeks3-4 litters per doe

Reading recommendation: 19 Alarming Signs That Your Rabbit Is Stressed + What To Do

#5: False pregnancy

Female rabbits may refuse to mate when she’s expecting.

But sometimes rabbits give a false alarm.

Pseudopregnancy or false pregnancy is common in female rabbits.

It results from sterile mating (inability to reproduce) or failed mating attempts.

Female rabbits’ bodies tend to react to the physical act of mating even if it wasn’t successful.

They may resemble a pregnancy of up to 17 days.

Female bunnies even pull off their fur to build a nest for their young.

When you put them in the male’s cage for mating, females tend to run away or fight.

It’s part of their protective nature as mammals.

#6: Disease

Reproductive illness and other diseases cause female rabbits to refuse to mate.

It’s common in primiparous or female rabbits that gave birth for the first time.

Or those that are only able to give birth once.

The uterus of a female rabbit consists of 2 passages called horns.

A normal litter may still survive in a single-functioning horn.

But, the female rabbit can’t bear offspring if both of these horns are no longer working.

Typical signs of reproductive issues include:

  • Swelling on the genital parts.
  • Thick, yellowish-gray discharge in the genital area.

Warning: Infections are transmissible to the offspring upon breeding. 

Moreover, metabolic bone diseases (lack of calcium) may develop during intensive breeding. 

Rabbits, in general, also are prone to pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses.

#7: Injuries

Even the smallest fracture loses your female’s interest in mating.

Injuries cause them pain and stress.

Physical injuries in rabbits could be due to a lot of things.

It can be accidents, poor flooring structure, or other outdoor conditions.

Rabbits suffer from common injuries, such as:

  • Paw cuts.
  • Sore hocks.
  • Torn toenail.
  • Bite wounds.
  • Back and leg fractures.

Tip: Provide bedding supplies such as grass or rosewood mats for foot protection. 

#8: Pregnancy

If your rabbit is pregnant, she may refuse to mate the second time.

But males can still mate with a pregnant female, especially if they’re receptive.

Or if the mother rabbit is in the earliest stage of the gestation period.

It’s possible if the female is not in her full cycle yet or when the fetus is small enough.

But there’s about a 40% chance for successful pregnancies in this case.

If this happens, it could mean that the previous mating session wasn’t successful.

Warning: This is not advisable to avoid any embryo development issues.

Your female rabbit’s body language is her way of communication.

Pay close attention when she sends a signal of discomfort or refusal to avoid fighting. 

#9: Territorial behavior

You’ve come across territorial aggression often in this article.

When you place your female rabbit in a male’s cage…

Keep in mind that female rabbits fight for their social status.

They also defend their hierarchy when they get into a fight.

This level of aggression happens both day and night, a study says.

Does (female rabbits) tend to show dominance in a group with males.

With that being said…

You don’t want your female bunny to get grumpy if a male rabbit invades her territory.

Talk about Queen B

#10: Lighting

The absence of enough lighting is another reason why females refuse to mate.

Humans, for example, have the circadian rhythm or biological clock.

According to a study, rabbits do, too.

Photoperiodism is the response of animals and plants to the length of day and night.

It gives female rabbits great reproductive benefits like: 

  • Food intake.
  • Sexual receptivity.
  • Litter size and weight at birth.
  • Weaning (taking care of the young).
  • Gestation and pre-weaning mortality rate.

Proper lighting schedules (16-hour light and 8-hour dark) meet rabbits’ biological needs. 

Plus, a study also shows how different light colors affect female rabbits’ reproductive performance.

Using LED, the colors red and white have positive effects on:

  • Birth rate.
  • Conception.
  • Litter weight and size. 

Red showed the highest effect in female rabbits in all experiments conducted.

It may be due to the wavelengths of the color red.

Wavelengths have different effects on animals depending on their biological condition. 

But for female rabbits, giving them enough lighting ignites their social abilities.

#11: Receptivity period

Female rabbits may lose interest in mating at some point.

It’s because female rabbits have no regular estrus cycle (fertility period).

Female rabbits’ ovulation starts right after mating.

Plus, rabbits can get pregnant almost immediately after giving birth.

This pretty much answers the question: 

“Why do rabbits make as many kits as they can?”

But, there is a rest phase in female rabbits’ receptivity period.

The receptivity period may last up to 5-14 days.

Followed by a 1-2 days rest phase. 

Follicles in the ovary develop and mature at this stage.

This happens if sexual intercourse doesn’t occur between male and female rabbits.

Female rabbits vary in their receptiveness.

It’s best to track her mating schedule as patiently as you can.

Moreover, here’s a video of female rabbits refusing to mate.

Tips before breeding your female bunnies

Yes, bunny rituals are a thing.

Rabbits don’t always get along.

And trying to get them to mate even makes it harder.

Here are some things to do before breeding your female rabbits.

#1: Give them pets

Put your male and female bunnies together in a comfortable space.

Place enrichment objects in the area, such as hay tubes/balls or digging boxes.

If they don’t get along in this phase, pet them together to calm them.

You may put them side by side with you in the middle.

Give them a gentle head scratch together.

Make them feel that it’s okay to be friends.

You may also give them treats to motivate them to come to each other.

#2: Give them enough space

Rabbits like to hop, jump and run around.

Allow them to bond in a spacious area at home.

If you have a backyard, it’s perfect for setting up mini obstacles for them. 

Set up elevated platforms that allow them to observe their surroundings.

You can build or buy rabbit tunnels, too.

Note: Be always on the lookout when you’re rabbits are outside the house. Chances are, they’ll fight or escape.

#3: Let them groom each other

Grooming is a lovely gesture from rabbits.

It means affection.

They can groom their owners or other rabbits.

You might ask:

“But what if my rabbits don’t like each other?”

Well, you can try this trick.

Dab a mushed banana or unsweetened apple sauce on your rabbit’s forehead.

When your rabbits begin to lick each other, it’s a huge relief.

Licking is their cute act of grooming.

And when they do this to their companions, it’s love.

#4: Spray calming scents in their bonding area

Herbs like lavender and chamomile are not only healthy for rabbits.

They are perfect for calming them, too.

Moreover, lavender shows great effects in rabbits, according to a study.

It reduces their anxiety.

You can prep your rabbit’s bonding space with lavender and chamomile spray.

#5: Take a break

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to give your female rabbits a rest.

They may develop stress while they’re adjusting to their companions.

You can always put them back together after a few days.

As soon as they feel at ease, they’ll easily approach another rabbit.

As a rabbit owner, pay close attention to their body language.

Forcing them might only cause fight injuries.

The proper feeding plan for your female bunny’s reproductive health

According to a study, a high-fiber diet benefits female rabbits’ reproductive lifespan.

It shows a decrease in the death rate in mother rabbits, especially in the rearing period (rabbit upbringing).

In general, rabbits need the following basic nutrients in their diet:

  • Fat.
  • Fiber.
  • Protein.
  • Carbohydrates.
  • Vitamins and Minerals.

But, too much fat is not ideal for female rabbits.

High energy intake during the gestation period results in difficulty in giving birth.

Studies show a link to excessive weight, especially in young does.

It also affects the number of newborns produced in a single litter.

Moreover, controlled feeding showed health benefits to female rabbits during pregnancy.

A study confirms this.

Sufficient hydration is also vital in rabbits’ daily intake.

Give your female rabbits fresh water every day.

Plus, their food must be in clean and safe storage to avoid contamination.