False pregnancy in rabbits

Looking for information on false pregnancy in rabbits? Many of us raising rabbits are aware that rabbits breed often and fast compared to other pets. Also, these tiny creatures experience false pregnancy. Yes, female rabbits can experience a false pregnancy quite frequent, and your pet might have this feeling many times.

False pregnancy in rabbits
False pregnancy in rabbits

However, when they experience a false pregnancy. They will recover from false pregnancies naturally and feel healthy and happy again. After around three weeks, your tiny friend will realize that the pregnancy is not genuine, and you will see a noticeable difference in her behavior. Your pet will feel like nothing has happened.

However, your little companion will need your care and sympathy. Yes, female rabbits will be unpredictable and temperamental during a false pregnancy. Therefore, you will have to take extra caution to deal with her elevated hunger, unusual behaviours, and mood swings.

A false pregnancy might confuse you in the initial weeks. You might feel that your pet is pregnant and it needs care. However, you will have to observe the behavior of your pet. It will help you to know the pregnancy is genuine or not. There will be a few differences, and you will have to notice them.

What is a false pregnancy in rabbits?

False or phantom pregnancy is a condition when your pet feels that she is pregnant. Even if you find it impossible, she will behave like she is pregnant. Any female rabbit can have this feeling during her breeding age.

Yes, when your bunny is more than three months old, she might have a phantom pregnancy. When it comes to your bunny, she will not be able to differentiate between a false pregnancy and pregnancy. She will behave like a pregnant rabbit. However, there will not be any litter, and your pet will be healthy in the end.

Therefore, you do not need to bother much about phantom pregnancy. If it is frequent, you can talk to your vet.

Female Rabbit Phantom Pregnancy Treatment

As mentioned earlier, your pet will act like a pregnant rabbit. The bunny will not know the difference until the third week. However, you will have to make your pet comfortable. Make sure that your bunny has access to quality hay. Your tiny friend will eat and prepare a nest for the litter.

You should not worry even if your tinny friend gains weight. But you can keep your bunny active once this phase is over. Also, you can put some soft items in her space. Your bunny might need them to line the nest. If you do so, she will not tear out fur to make the nest lining.

Additionally, you will have to respect the privacy of your bunny. As the pet will be preparing herself for babies, she might want a secure and safe environment. She can be territorial and irritable. She might not allow you to clean her cage. However, you will have to clean the cage. You can wear gloves to protect your hands from your pets’ angry nips.

Is a rabbit pregnancy true?

Many pet owners find it hard to differentiate between a genuine and false rabbit pregnancy in female rabbits. However, you can look for symptoms to know it is a phantom pregnancy or not. You might need to wait for a few weeks to observe the difference. During the initial weeks, it will feel like your bunny is pregnant. Here are a few symptoms you can check out to know your bunny is pregnant or not.

  • Craving for Food: A pregnant bunny will eat more. The rabbit might end up eating for up to sixteen babies. Yes, your bunny will be hungry all the time. She will need more pellets and hay during her pregnancy.
  • Enlarged Stomach: Another sign is an enlarged belly. Once babies grow inside your bunny, her stomach will expand. The mammary gland of your pet will look pronounced.
  • Nesting: A pregnant rabbit will have a natural desire to make a nest. You might notice that the bunny stores hay into a corner. Also, it will need something to line the nest. For this, bunnies might tear out their fur. Besides, a rabbit will carry the hay in the mouth and create a safe box.
  • Mood Swings: Apart from all these symptoms, mood swings are common in pregnant rabbits. Even if your bunny is docile, you might notice some aggressive behavior during the pregnancy. She might nip or bite regularly. She might not allow you to enter her territory.

If your bunny is not pregnant, she will not show all these symptoms after twenty days. Yes, your pet will realize that she is not pregnant after a couple of weeks, and she will not show all these behaviours again. All the pregnancy symptoms will come to an end abruptly. The rabbit will go back to her life again.

What causes a Phantom pregnancy?

What causes a Phantom pregnancy
What causes a Phantom pregnancy?

Rabbits might experience a phantom pregnancy due to many reasons. When a bunny ovulates, it believes and acts like pregnant. Also, the feeling will continue for around twenty days. That means your pet will behave like pregnant for a few weeks. When it comes to causes, here are a few.

  • Stress: Your bunny can feel stressed, like you. When a female rabbit feels stressed, it might ovulate. The pet might have this feeling while visiting a vet or separating from her friend. The fear will cause ovulation, and your pet will feel like she is pregnant. She will act pregnant for around three weeks.
  • Sexual Stimulation: You might be aware that your female bunny gets sexual stimulation often. Bunnies can have this feeling by humping and mounting. Once they have sexual stimulation, they might feel like they are pregnant.

It is worth mentioning that a female rabbit can experience a phantom pregnancy regardless of age. If a bunny can reproduce, it might get this feeling many times.

How long does a Phantom pregnancy last?

As mentioned earlier, a phantom pregnancy will not last more than a couple of weeks. Yes, it will continue somewhere between eighteen to twenty days. However, pregnancy will last for thirty-one days.

Hence, you will have to check the timeline to know your pet is pregnant or feeling like pregnant. Here are some symptoms you can go through to differentiate between pregnancy and a false one.

Genuine Pregnancy Symptoms

On day one, your unsprayed rabbit will mate with any unneutered male rabbit. During the period between six and eight days, she will eat more and behave aggressively. She will show more aggression towards male rabbits. Once the pregnancy becomes ten days old, the tummy will have tiny bumps. It is the indication that your bunny is pregnant.

After fifteen days, your tiny pet will stockpile blankets and hays. Also, the bunny will tear out its fur to make the lining and create a nest. Within twenty days of pregnancy, the pet will exhibit nesting behavior, make a nest and relax.

Also, rabbits prefer to sleep more during this phase. Your bunny will give birth in twenty-nine or thirty days. The pregnancy will be over, and your rabbit will have babies overnight.

False Pregnancy symptoms

False Pregnancy symptoms
False Pregnancy symptoms

On day one, your rabbit will ovulate due to stress or sexual stimulation. She will act and feel like she is pregnant. She will become volatile and start eating more between six and eight days. You will find her more hostile towards her male counterpart. But the stomach shape will remain the same after ten to twelve days.

Once she enters the third week, she will make a nest using blankets and hay. Also, she will tear out the fur to make the lining. You will not notice much difference in the behavior. However, your bunny will start losing her interest in eighteen to twenty days. She will feel like she is not pregnant and behave like a non-pregnant rabbit.

Once your bunny realizes that she is not pregnant, she will not be moody anymore. During twenty-nine to thirty-two days, she will forget her phantom pregnancy.

Keep records

If you want to differentiate between a genuine and false pregnancy, you will have to maintain records. You will have to notice the changes in the behavior of your bunny. A false one might change the mind of your bunny.

However, it will not change the body. Your pet might gain some weight. But, the bunny will not have little bumps on the stomach. You will have to handle it carefully since your pet is unaware of the phantom pregnancy.

False pregnancy: My opinions

False pregnancy in rabbits is not rare. Hence, you should not worry much about this. But if you want to minimize such incidents, you can consider spaying your bunny during the early period of life. It will keep the hormone under control.

As a result, your pet will not experience stress-based ovulation. Apart from that, you will have to remove all the factors that make your bunny stressed.

You cannot prevent a false one completely. Even if a bunny lives alone, it might develop such feelings. Therefore, you will have to make sure that your pet is comfortable and safe. However, a phantom pregnancy is self-resolving. It will not harm your pet and impact its health.

A false pregnancy might make your pet a bit emotional. Your pet feels babies inside. Hence, you will have to respect that feeling until your tiny friend has not come out of that emotion. Even if she does not get any litter in the end, she will feel exhausted.

The good news is that your pet will not take long to come back to her previous life. Yes, she will act as nothing has happened.

Additionally, a false pregnancy will not impact the fertility of your bunny. The bunny will not feel stressed out after realizing false pregnancy. Hence, you will have to handle the entire situation carefully.

Nesting behavior

Nesting behavior during a false and genuine pregnancy is normal in rabbits. They will have an instinct to make a nest. They will use blankets and hay to create a nest in the corner of their place.

Also, you will notice fur pulling to line their nest. You might notice the nesting behavior during a phantom and genuine pregnancy. One idea would be to create them a nest box.

The last two weeks

The last two weeks play a determining role. If the bunny is pregnant, it will sleep more and take a rest. However, if it is a false pregnancy, the rabbit will realize it in the third week. When mothers are in the last phase of pregnancy, the acting rabbits will be moving back to their previous lives.

Once they feel that they are not pregnant, they will not take long to return to their previous lives. The emotional impact will be less as well.


You can palpate after ten to twelve days. You can check the abdomen of your bunny to know your pet is pregnant or not. First, you will have to create a comfortable environment for your pet. You can pick your tiny friend and place her on a tabletop.

Check her abdomen after making her comfortable. As bunnies will have two uterine horns, you will have to check both sides. You can use your fingertips and press each side of her tummy gently. Yes, you can find grape-size bumps. We call this process palpating. You can palpate both sides of the abdomen.

Summer nesting material

You can consider using softwood shaving, and then you can add grass hay for bedding. You can fill the box with bedding. Also, you can use cotton in summer. Your pet will feel more comfortable.

Winter Nesting Material

When it comes to winter, you can use wool to make your pet warm and safe. Apart from that, you can use straw or hay. Besides, you can use wood shaving as the base.

Why do rabbits have false pregnancies?

Why do rabbits have false pregnancies
Why do rabbits have false pregnancies?

False pregnancy is not a one-time experience for rabbits. Yes, female rabbits experience it many times during their lifetime. Some bunnies get this emotion whenever they feel stressed. Also, when your bunny becomes fertile, she prepares herself for giving birth. She might experience one after one phantom pregnancy.

However, the feeling will not harm your bunny much. If it is frequent, your bunny might be going through the following conditions.

  • Loneliness: Loneliness might cause stress in rabbits. When your pet feels stressed, the tiny creature might ovulate. Once a rabbit ovulates, the female pet starts to feel pregnant.
  • Sharing: If your rabbit shares her hutch with others, she might ovulate often. Both dominant and submissive bunnies might experience this condition. Yes, overstimulation will result in ovulation.
  • Separation: Any emotional loss might lead to this condition as well. If you move out your bunny’s companion from her place, she might feel stressed and lonely. Both these conditions will cause ovulation. Therefore, you will have to avoid such incidents.

Do rabbits make a nest when they are not pregnant?

No, they do not. Female rabbits only start nest building when they are pregnant. They develop a natural urge to make a nest. Also, if they have a phantom pregnancy, they will start making a nest. They will tear out their fur to make the lining and use hay and blankets to create the nest. In brief, female rabbits can make a nest when they are pregnant or when they feel like pregnant.

How do I know if my rabbit is pregnant?

How do I know if my rabbit is pregnant
How do I know if my rabbit is pregnant?

As stated earlier, you will have to look for signs to know your bunny is pregnant or not. First, your bunny will start gaining weight in the second or third week. Also, the dewlap around the neck will increase. Besides, the bunny will use extra fur to make the nest soft.

Your pet might scratch or dig the corner of the living space. A pregnant bunny will sleep more in the last phase of pregnancy. Apart from that, she will carry large quantities of hay to make a suitable nest. Besides, she might softly kick her tummy. All these signs indicate that your bunny is pregnant.

What do you do when your rabbit has babies?

You will have to create a rabbit-proof home once baby rabbits move out of the box. If your pet is reluctant to feed her babies, you will have to wait till evening. Most rabbits wait for some time to feed their babies. Hence, you will have to observe with patience to see the progress. You will have to give your pet a day to adjust to the new situation.

How common is false pregnancy in rabbits?

False pregnancy might not be frequent for those rabbits living in the wild. However, it is common in pet rabbits.

Related Questions

Can 2 female rabbits live in the same cage?

Rabbits can live together. Both male and female bunnies can live in the same cage. You can choose any combination for your bunny hutch. However, the most natural combination is a male and female rabbit. But you can consider keeping two female rabbits as well.

Final thoughts

False pregnancy is normal in rabbits, and your pet might experience this condition many times. However, you can minimize the occurrence by creating a safe and healthy environment for your pet. Make sure that your bunny is happy and healthy. Any stress or sexual stimulation might lead to ovulation, and ovulation can cause a false pregnancy.