What to expect when your rabbit’s expecting
June 7, 2019
Breeding from your rabbit: what to expect from the pregnancy
Rabbits reach sexual maturity at a very early age – around four or five months for small breeds and five to eight months for larger breeds. So if you have a young female living with a male rabbit, there is a good chance that she will become pregnant. If this is something you’re looking forward to, our nurses at Edgewood Veterinary Group have all the advice you could need, so simply contact us and ask about anything you’re unsure of.
Meanwhile, here are a few tips about what to expect when your rabbit’s expecting.
When will my rabbit be ready for mating?
Rabbits tend to mate in spring when the days are longer. You may notice that your bunny starts to flatten her back, raise her pelvis and allow the male to mount. Her vulva may look swollen, red and moist.
How do I tell if my rabbit is pregnant?
- Weight gain is not usually noticed, if at all, until towards the end of pregnancy.
- A more rounded belly appearance may be seen.
- Pulling fur from the abdomen, sides and dewlap to line the nest can be seen a few days before giving birth.
- Mood swings and not wanting to be held.
- Sometimes, very few or no changes are obvious until your rabbit gives birth.
It may be possible for your vet to examine foetuses in the abdomen of your rabbit 10-14 days after mating; at this stage they’re like a grape in size.
You can also phone to ask one of our nurses for pregnancy information.
Preparing for the litter
The pregnancy period of a rabbit is 28-32 days. Small breeds tend to have four or five kits (babies) and larger breeds have eight to 12 kits.
Feed the mother-to-be good quality hay throughout the pregnancy and have plenty of fresh water available.
Provide a nesting box towards the end of the pregnancy with fresh straw for bedding.
Separate the pregnant female from the male, as he’ll often try to mate with her soon after giving birth and sometimes will even try to mate his female offspring or attack them.
Pseudopregnancy is not uncommon and can occur from unsuccessful mating or from repeated mounting by another female. The doe will display signs of pregnancy such as nest-building and producing milk. The doe can also develop mastitis which is an inflammation of the mammary gland, when milk is produced and this can become infected and be very painful for the doe.