Rabbit Reproduction 101: It's a lot easier than you
The female rabbit (doe) does not come into heat (oestrus) as do
other animals. The doe will accept the male (buck) at any time of
When can Pet Rabbits Be Bred?
The proper age of bucks and does for the first mating depends
upon the breed and individual development. Small breeds
develop more rapidly and are breeding mature at a younger age
than medium and large breeds.
Some individual rabbits within a breed will develop more
rapidly than others. Generally, the smaller breeds can be mated
when the bucks and does are 4 to 5 months old, the medium
breeds at 5 to 6 months, and the larger breeds at 9 to 12
Mate does when they reach maturity. If mating is delayed too
long, breeding difficulties may occur.
Does can continue to have young for up to 4 years.
How long are Pet Rabbits Pregnant?
The gestation period of pet rabbits, or the period from mating
to kindling, is 31 or 32 days.
Some litters may be kindled as early as the 29th day or as
late as the 35th day, but 98 percent of the normal litters will
be kindled between the 30th and 33rd day.
The length of pregnancy in the rabbit is 31 days and the doe can
produce from 1 to 12 young each time she gives birth. She can
become pregnant again within a few days of giving birth. However
it is not good practice to allow the doe to become pregnant
straight after giving birth. It is better to mate the doe when
her young (litter) are 4 weeks old so that they are 8 weeks old
when the next litter is born. In this way one doe can produce 6
litters a year.
How to tell if Pet Rabbits are ready for breeding
A doe shows signs of being ready for mating by restlessness
and nervousness by rubbing her chin on feeding and watering
equipment, and by attempting to join other rabbits in nearby
When the doe is ready, always take the doe to the buck's
hutch for mating. Mating should occur almost immediately
after placing the doe in the cage. When mating is completed,
return the doe to her own hutch.
Record the date of service.
One buck in good health can service 10 does, and can be
used several times a day for short periods.
How can you tell if a doe is pregnant?
Test mating, returning the doe to the buck periodically, is
not an accurate determination of a pregnant doe. Some
does will still accept a buck even when pregnant.
Two weeks after mating you can feel the young through the
under side of the doe's belly. If the doe is pregnant, you should
be able to distinguish the embryos as marble shaped forms
as they slip between the thumb and fingers of your hand.
What to do if a doe is pregnant?
27 days after mating, put a nest box in the hutch. The doe
will start to pull fur from her body to line the nest. The doe
usually will consume less feed during this time. Give
her small amounts of green feed.
After kindling, sometimes a doe may be restless. Do not
disturb her until she has quieted down.
Do not check the young until the day after birth and do not
touch them with your hand. Use a stick to gently touch them
when checking and remove any that are dead. They are
blind until the eyes open at 10 days of age.
Leave the young rabbits with the mother
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