Rabbits are highly social animals that should always be housed together. If they’re not neutered, you’ll soon have baby rabbits. Rabbits are prolific breeders and can be tricky to sex for inexperienced owners. That might be why you’re wondering if your female rabbit is pregnant. Here are seven signs to look out for.
The 7 Signs That Tell You a Rabbit Is Pregnant
1. Personality Changes
If your usually calm, collected rabbit suddenly turns into a territorial grump overnight (but she’s not in pain), she could be pregnant. Hormonal changes can make the gentlest rabbits aggressive and territorial, and they can even lunge or growl at their owners.
They can also resist being picked up or handled. However, these can all also be signs that your rabbit is hurt or in pain, so take them for a check-up to rule that out first.
2. Rounded Abdomen
In some rabbits, a change in the size of the abdomen is not seen at all or is very subtle. In others, a pronounced rounding is seen as the babies grow. Smaller rabbits might be more likely to show, but the size of the litter will play a part.
The larger the litter, the bigger the mommy rabbit is likely to be. Around 12 days into the pregnancy, a veterinarian can palpate the rabbit’s abdomen to determine how many babies are inside.
One of the clearest signs of pregnancy in rabbits is nesting. If your female rabbit is gathering all her nesting material together, such as hay, blankets, etc., and is piling it all up, she’s likely making a comfortable nest to have her babies in.
Rabbits usually nest towards the end of the pregnancy and can be picky about having it just right. Your rabbit will need plenty of comfortable, absorbent, warm material to give birth and raise her babies. You can even provide her with a nesting box, but she may not use it!
4. Fur Pulling
Another telltale sign that your rabbit is getting ready to give birth is fur pulling. A female rabbit will begin pulling out the thick, soft fur from her flanks and dewlap (the roll of fat around her neck) to line her nest.
This plucking is normal, and you don’t have to worry; rabbits in the wild do this to supplement any nest materials they find, such as dried grasses. Some rabbits craft these nests out in the open, so don’t be surprised if your rabbit decides the middle of her cage is the perfect spot!
5. Weight Gain
Weight gain will likely occur when your rabbit is pregnant, although it can be tricky to tell. Pregnant rabbits need enough calories to nourish themselves, plus up to 12 babies, and that’s a lot of calories!
If you are concerned about your rabbit’s weight during pregnancy, take them to your veterinarian to be weighed. Sometimes, rabbits can resorb (absorb) their fetuses into their bodies to gain nutrition, so ensuring a complete, nutritional diet is essential.
If your rabbit is pregnant, you might see her digging frantically at the sides and corners of her pen. This instinctual behavior comes from her urge to dig and burrow to create a safe home for herself and her kits. While some rabbits will have the desire to burrow, others won’t. For example, wild Cottontail rabbits don’t make warrens or burrows and will instead nest in hollows.
7. Seeing the Babies
Towards the end of your rabbit’s pregnancy, if she is very still, you may be able to “see” the babies moving around and softly kicking inside her. Try not to disturb her and get too close, as she may be sensitive.
It can be difficult to see, but the babies may be able to be seen making bumps in the mom’s belly when they turn and twist. Larger kits are more obvious than smaller ones.
How Long Are Rabbits Pregnant?
Rabbits are pregnant for 31 to 33 days, and those with smaller litters of around four or fewer have a longer pregnancy than those with a large litter. If a rabbit still hasn’t given birth after 32 days of gestation, vet assistance is vital since the babies can be lost or born stillborn any time after the 32nd day.
Problems with the birth can be fatal for the mom and kits, so you should seek prompt veterinary attention if you think your rabbit is struggling to give birth.
At What Age Can Rabbits Get Pregnant?
Rabbits reach sexual maturity at different ages depending on how big they are. For small breeds such as the Mini Lop or Dwarf, sexual maturity can be reached at 3 ½ months. For large and giant breeds, sexual maturity might not be reached until 6 or even 9 months old.
The release of eggs in female rabbits is triggered by sexual intercourse, not by a cycle of hormones as in humans. Rabbits are also very receptive to mating; they can mate on 14 out of 16 days on average, with pregnancy able to occur each time.
Can Rabbits Get Pregnant Soon After Having Babies?
Yes! rabbits can get pregnant after giving birth within a few hours. Therefore, you must separate the male from your female as she prepares to give birth to avoid another pregnancy. However, keep the male rabbit close to the female (unable to reach her), so they can see and smell each other. This will keep their bond strong until they can be reunited after they’re fixed.
Pregnancy in rabbits is more complex than you might have thought. Some signs that a rabbit is pregnant can be very subtle, while others are much more pronounced! The clearest signs are behavioral changes, such as nesting, changes in personality, and fur-pulling. However, these can all occur in false pregnancies, too. If you’re uncertain that your rabbit is pregnant, take them to the vet so they can confirm.
Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock