Pregnancy is such a beautiful phase and when it comes to your pet, nothing can match that wonderful feeling. Nothing is more exciting and happier than welcoming new little baby rabbits. But what age can rabbits get pregnant? Let’s find out!
The sexual maturity of a rabbit depends upon a number of factors such as their breeds, weight, size etc. Depending upon these factors, the right time for pregnancy varies from rabbits to rabbits. Generally, the smaller rabbits breeds become sexually active faster than larger breeds.
At What Age Can Rabbits Get Pregnant?
A small breed rabbit can get pregnant at 4 to 5 months, whereas a male bunny reaches its sexual maturity at 5 to 6 months.
Medium breed female rabbits can get pregnant at age 5 to 6 months whereas a medium-sized male bunny reaches sexual maturity around 7 months.
Large breed female rabbits can get pregnant at age 6 to 8 months, whereas a large breed male bunny reaches breeding time at around 9 months.
Further, the time between breeding and kindling is known as the gestation period and it is around 31 days. Once the rabbits are kindled, she can again get pregnant after 6 to 7 weeks. Just like any other pet, choose the bunnies with good productivity and genetics for breeding.
Female Rabbits Breeding According To Their Breed Size:
- Smaller Breeds: Polish Dwarf Hotot, Holland Lop, Britannia Petite, Netherland Dwarf etc.
- Breeding Time: 125-150 days
- Medium Breeds: Mini Lop, Havana, Dutch, Florida White
- Breeding Time:150 to 180 days
- Large And Commercial Breeds: Palomino, New Zealand, Californian, Champagne d’Argent
- Breeding Time: 6 to 7 months
Further, in the case of commercial breeds, they reach sexual maturity at 10 to 11 pounds of their body weight.
- Giant Breeds: Flemish Giant, French Lop, Giant Chinchilla, Checkered Giant
- Breeding Time: 8-9 months, the above mentioned giant breeds don’t reach development before this age.
An average female rabbit becomes sexually active at the age of 3 to 8 months according to her size, weight and breed. Further, she can get pregnant anytime of the year and throughout her life. However, their sperm as well as egg production decrease post 3 years of age, as per the studies.
At the time of mating, the male rabbit approaches the female bunny from her back and then inserts himself into the female parts and performs hip thrusts at a rapid speed. This scene lasts for just 20-40 seconds and after this time, the male bunny takes himself out of the doe.
Further, the gestation period of bunnies is generally shorter than the other pets, it lasts for around 28 to 36 days. Also, the short gesture periods result in small litters, whereas the longer gestation period results in large litters.
The size of litters vary from 4 to 12 rabbits. Female bunnies can give birth to around 60 rabbits per year if provided with an ideal living environment and conditions. The interesting fact is, a female rabbit can get pregnant as early as the next day of her delivery.
While rabbits can give birth to 60 rabbit kits per year, not each of their offspring survives. In other words, the mortality rate of embryos is very high due to health complications such as infection, trauma, malnutrition, environmental stress etc. Therefore, despite a higher fertility rate, only a few newborn rabbits survive.
Now, that we have discussed the age rabbits can get pregnant, you might want to know the signs of pregnancy in a rabbit.
Signs That Your Rabbits Are Pregnant
Once a rabbit becomes sexually active or reaches its sexual maturity, it can start breeding and producing her offsprings anytime. If one male and female bunny with an age more than 3.5 months are left together, there are high chances of them reproducing. In such cases, you should keep an eye on your doe for the signs of pregnancy.
To help you with it, here are the most common signs of pregnancy in rabbits :
- 1] Marble Like Nodules In Belly
Just like other mammals, a pregnant rabbits stomach gets bigger as time passes. The baby inside her keeps growing resulting in a bigger belly. So, the first and the obvious sign of pregnancy is a bigger belly.
Just after 10 or 12 days of breeding, you might be able to feel several nodules or marble-like bumps inside your bunny’s tummy. These tiny nodules or bumps are nothing but the tiny rabbits inside the womb of your bunny. You can easily feel them with your hands.
These little nodules will grow inside your rabbit’s womb for around 2 weeks, until the time of delivery. This whole duration (from breeding to delivery) takes just about 1 month which is pretty amazing.
- 2] Changed Behavior
Just like pregnant humans, pregnant rabbits undergo mood swings. They are mostly moody and irritable and also eat more. However, rabbits are sensitive animals, so if your pet is being unfriendly or stressed, it could be because of her mood alone. But if this sign comes along with others then be ready to welcome your new little bunnies.
- 3] Nesting
Nesting is the biggest visible sign that a rabbit is pregnant. This is the first sign you’ll be able to notice in your female rabbit. You may notice her digging into a side of her cage or piling up hay or bedding.
Pregnant bunnies usually pick up soft grass, hay and other items, carry them with their mouth and set up a comfortable place to give birth. You may also notice her pulling her soft rug or blanket at one corner to make space for her newborns.
But there is a weird situation that most new rabbit owners are unaware of. Sometimes, rabbits start pulling their own fur to layer their nest. Know that this is completely normal until your pet is being aggressive on herself.
If your bunny is nesting and setting up her space, you can expect her to deliver the newborns in about one week. And if she is pulling her fur out to line the nest, chances are she’s going to give birth in the next one or two days.
Another interesting fact is, rabbits mostly deliver the babies at night, so expect waking up to a good-sized litter.
If your rabbits haven’t delivered their newborns after 35 days age from when they get pregnant, take her to your vet as soon as possible. Your vet may take out the babies via surgery or either give her some medications to induce labor.
Rabbit Labor And Litter Size
The gestation period of a rabbit is around 28 to 38 days and the average duration is around 31 days.
When a bunny gives birth, the process is known as kindling and it mostly takes place either at night or in the early morning.
Kindling takes around 15 minutes, this means your bunny will take about 15 minutes to deliver the babies.
Similar to other pets, the delivery process of rabbits is instinctive, so they won’t need any human help while giving birth. So, you may expect waking up to a pack of little bunnies.
Once your bunny has given birth to her offsprings, leave her best as it is for a couple of days. This is because, if you disturb a rabbit mom’s nest, it might stress her and she may refuse to feed and take care of her babies.
Now, let’s talk about rabbit Litters. The little rabbit babies are known as kits and each litter can consist of 1 to 14 kits. The average litter size is 6 kits. Further, the newborn rabbits are hairless, blind, deaf and very delicate. They began to develop after 10 days. According to studies, the mother rabbit nurses her babies once in the night.
The nursing is very quick and takes only 5 minutes. This is because the energetic value of the rabbit’s milk is very high and 5 minutes are enough to feed the babies.
The young rabbits are fully weaned (in about 4 to 6 weeks). It is recommended to keep your female bunny away from her male companion because she might get pregnant again if kept together. As we already discussed, a doe can get pregnant as early as a couple of hours after giving birth.
Sometimes rabbits experience false pregnancies, but this happens very rarely. A rabbit who is suffering from false pregnancy may begin showing the typical signs of pregnancy such as setting up her nest.
If you’re certain that your rabbits are going through a false pregnancy at a certian age thinking they are pregnant, consider taking her to your vet immediately. Further, if you want to avoid your bunny getting pregnant, we recommend getting her neutered or spayed.
Why Breeding Your Rabbits Is Not Always A Good Idea?
When we get rabbits as companions, we easily forget that they are prey animals. Similar to other prey animals, bunnies reproduce to keep their spices alive in the wild. But the case of indoor animals is different and breeding them may bring numerous unnecessary problems. First among the problems is too many bunnies!
Rabbits differ from other animals because the female bunny starts ovulating after being mounted by a buck. This process is known as induced ovulation and this is the only time when the female rabbit produces an egg. This means that once she gives birth, she can get pregnant again after a few hours if she is with a male companion. If you continue to let this happen, you might run out of space for keeping too many bunnies. This is the reason, you should keep the female bunny separate from the male after she reaches sexual maturity.
Are There Any Rabbit Breeding Problems?
Yes, there are many breeding problems your bunnies may suffer during and after giving birth. This is the reason why it is recommended to breed only when required and get your bunnies spayed otherwise. Below are some breeding related issues that can occur to any sexually mature rabbit regardless of her age :
Your bunny might get confused and refuse to prepare the nest for her newborns. This may leave the kits exposed to death.
Your bunny might be unable to form milk which means the kits may die of hunger. Further, the mortality rate of young rabbits increases rapidly if they’re hand-fed by humans.
If the father rabbit is of a larger breed than the mother, she may have to face discomfort and problems at the time of giving birth. She might even die during her labour.
If the mother rabbit is very weak and unhealthy, then it might be risky for her to carry the pregnancy.
Things To Keep In Mind While Breeding Rabbits
If you’ve made your mind to breed your rabbits, be prepared for having 4 to 12 kits at your home. Those little bunnies are your responsibility, so make sure to take care of them by yourself or else find responsible homes for them.
If you want to keep the kits, know that they’ll be your responsibility for the next 8-10 years. You’ll have to take care of them, provide them food, shelter and proper care and also neuter them.
When a rabbit is born either by mistake or with proper planning, he is taking a home away from an existing rabbit. In fact, many rabbits die because of poor shelter. So, if you’re planning to breed your rabbit, make sure to have enough space to house them nicely. Always consider providing your bunnies with the best possible and large enough houses. If you’re unable to afford this, consider searching for a rabbit shelter or encourage your friends or colleagues to adopt your bunnies from yourself.
Why Is It Important To Get Your Bunnies Neutered / Spayed?
Spaying or neutering the bunnies is very important. First of all, know that spayed or neutered female bunnies live longer because they are not exposed to ovarian, uterine or mammary tumors.
In the case of male rabbits, they become calmer and less aggressive. They don’t fight with their companies and don’t attack the owners as well. In short, bunnies become more calm, composed and reliable when they are spayed or neutered.
What’s more? Neutered or spayed bunnies can’t produce unwanted kits. This helps in controlling the number of poor homeless rabbits.