We know that most of us have heard the joke about ‘humping like rabbits,’ but most of the time, mating rabbits is not as easy as it seems. It may take a few tries and good knowledge about the rabbit anatomy to do successfully. In this article, we will tell you all about rabbits mating.
When do Rabbits Start to Sexually Mature?
Size of Rabbit
Age of Sexual Maturity of Male
Age of Sexual Maturity of Female
3.5- 5 months
3.5- 4 months
5- 6 months
4.5- 6 months
7- 9 months
7- 8 months
The size of the rabbit is one of the deciding factors of when they will be sexually mature. Most dwarf or small rabbit breeds mature earlier, usually at around three and a half to five months.
Medium or standard and large-sized rabbits can usually start reproducing at four and a half months to six. The giant breeds such as the Flemish Giant or Angora can breed a lot later, around seven to nine months.
Rabbit Mating Cycle
Now that we know when are the does and the bucks are sexually mature, let’s get into the different cycles that happen when rabbits mate. This list is abridged, so you might refer to the other information below.
First Cycle: Sexual Maturity
As stated above, the sexual maturity of rabbits is dependent on their size and breed.
Second Cycle: Mating
Once they are sexually mature, the rabbits are now ready to mate. You can refer to the other section below to know more.
Third Cycle: Ovulation
Rabbits do not have an ovulation cycle like humans. The mating triggers the ovulation of the doe. That is why most breeders mate their rabbits two to four times in a span of a week to ensure that ovulation and pregnancy will happen.
Fourth Cycle: Gestation of Pregnancy
If the mating is successful, the gestation or pregnancy period will start. The doe is going to be pregnant for 30 to 32 days.
Fifth Cycle: Kindling
Kindling is the period when the mother rabbit will take care of her kits. It can go from three weeks to a month. Now that we know the cycles of mating and pregnancy in rabbits, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of their sexual reproduction.
How to Tell if the Doe is Ready to Mate?
Like other domestic pets such as dogs or cats, female rabbits also go in heat. There are no tell-tale signs that female rabbits are in heat. If male rabbits are nearby, the doe may show symptoms such as coming near the buck or lifting its tail up.
The most accurate sign is to look at the doe’s genital organ. When it’s ready to breed, the protrusion in its genital region must be moist and darker red to light purple. If the doe is not receptive, the vaginal protrusion is pale pink.
How to Mate Rabbits?
If the doe is in heat, it’s the perfect time for the rabbits to mate. To mate rabbits, you need to:
Place the Doe at the Buck’s Hutch
Female rabbits are very territorial. To ensure that both rabbits are safe and relaxed, the doe must be the one that is placed on the buck’s hutch and not the other way around.
The Pair will Start Interacting
The pair will start sniffing and going around each other. It may take a few minutes for them to start mating. Take your time and don’t disturb them for a faster process.
The Buck will Initiate mating
After a few times of going around the cage and sniffing each other, the buck will initiate mating. He will chase around the female and position himself to mount her. If she’s in heat, the doe will be receptive and present herself to the buck.
How to Tell if the Rabbit Mating is Successful?
One of the tell-tale signs of a successful mating is the bucks tend to fall off the doe and thump their foot after ejaculating. Of course, this is just a sign of successful mating and not a sure way to get the doe pregnant.
With that said, if you want to increase the chances of successful breeding, read the next part below.
How to Increase the Chances of Successful Breeding?
Although rabbits tend to breed successfully, here are some tips to increase those chances.
Mate the Rabbits Two to Four Times
Female rabbits do not ovulate by themselves. To trigger ovulation, they must go through the mating process first. By letting them mate two to four times with an interval of 10-12 hours in between, you have a higher chance for successful breeding.
Make Sure that the Doe is Receptive
Let them mate when the doe is in heat to make it less stressful for both the rabbits. If the female rabbit does not want to copulate, it might run around and get away from the buck’s advances.
Keep Their Age in Mind
Keep them at the prime mating age between five months to six years old when breeding. It will give you a better chance for successful reproduction.
Provide the Rabbits with a Proper Diet
The rabbit’s diet will significantly impact their way of life, including breeding. When the rabbits are not adequately supplied with ample nutrients, the rate of mating and pregnancy can drop.
Look Out for Phantom Pregnancy
Phantom pregnancy or pseudopregnancy is the phenomenon where female mammalians can show signs of gestation without the actual pregnancy.
It’s relatively common for rabbits and is an effect of their hormones. When a female rabbit is affected by phantom pregnancy, it might not be receptive to mating.
How Can You Tell if the Rabbit is Pregnant?
Most of the time, the rabbit will not show signs of pregnancy until they reach the nesting period at day 28 to 30. If you want to know if the doe is pregnant, here are the things you can look out for.
Although their nipples are covered in fur, the doe can show pregnancy the way other mammalians do. They will have an enlarged nipple, especially if they are at the late stages of pregnancy.
Lumps Along the Abdomen
Veterinarians and professional breeders mostly do this method. They feel the sides of the doe’s abdomen for grape-sized lumps, which are the unborn fetuses. Doing this without ample knowledge can hurt and make the doe uncomfortable.
When the time of birth comes near, the rabbit will exhibit nesting behavior by finding an enclosed space and lining it with fur and hay.
When do Rabbits Reach the End of Their Breeding Prime?
Most rabbits reach the end of their sexual maturity at around age three to six. The doe will get its breeding prime at three to four years old, while the buck can last from five to six years old.
However, rabbits can still initiate and get pregnant past their prime. They primarily act on instincts, so when the rabbits don’t show mating interest, it’s a sign that their body is not interested in mating anymore.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Now that we delve in-depth into the different facets of rabbit breeding let’s get to the fast-paced, and short answered frequently asked questions about rabbit breeding.
Why do Female Rabbits Hump?
Although female rabbits don’t mate through humping, most doe that exists with one another hump each other to show dominance, it’s a way of telling other rabbits that they are higher in the social hierarchy.
When can Female Rabbits Get Pregnant Again After Birth?
A doe can get pregnant just 24 hours after she gives birth. Although it may sound good to commercial breeders, getting the rabbit pregnant while she is kindling her newborn kits is not advisable.
How Many Litters Can a Doe have a Year?
The safest number of litters for a doe is four to five a year. If left unchecked, female rabbits can have a litter of 11-12 a year. It’s estimated that a single pair of rabbits can produce around 4 million pairs just after four years, also called Fibonacci Rabbits.
Although it may sound suitable for commercial breeders, unhindered and rapid breeding is medically risky for both the mother rabbit and her kits. It’s best to have a resting period of 2 weeks to a month every pregnancy.
Can a Doe Mate While Pregnant?
Bucks can initiate mating while the doe is pregnant, although she will not be receptive. Most female rabbits ignore the male advances during gestation, as observed in the wild.
Can Rabbits Breed their Blood Relatives?
Unlike humans, rabbits don’t form a familial bond with each other. Rabbits can freely mate with their descendants without repercussions, other than a more streamlined and limited gene pool.
Inbreeding in rabbits is commonly done to preserve the breed and its essential qualities.
Do Bucks Mate Baby Rabbits?
Buck might mate with kits and young rabbits. Although it will not result in a pregnancy, it can cause distress to the kits. It’s recommended to separate the bucks from other female rabbits.
With all the jokes about their mating habits, successfully breeding rabbits can be tricky. Whether you want to read about rabbit pregnancy or look for their mating habits, we hope this article provided you with the knowledge you need.