Rabbit babies are a really great thing.
However, you should know exactly about the behavior of your animals when offspring is expected. Only then you can support your female in the best possible way and if necessary intervene if something is wrong.
In this article we will give you all the theoretical basics so that you are ideally prepared – from pregnancy to nesting to birth.
Let’s get started
Rabbits do not get a period compared to us humans.
From the age of about 15 weeks, a rabbit is sexually mature and can be used for breeding from that moment on.
The fertility span of the animals is between 4 and 14 days. After that your rabbit is infertile for about 4 days. So your rabbit’s entire cycle lasts around 8 to 18 days.
How can you tell if your rabbit is ready?
To answer this question, you need to understand how your rabbit’s cycle works.
Rabbits have what is called induced ovulation, which means that external stimuli make them ready to mate. So, if there is a potential suitor nearby, ovulation can be triggered by mating.
In some cases, you can even activate the fertility phase yourself by stroking your doe’s posterior.
So, compared to many other mammals, rabbits are terrible all year round if conditions are right. Also, since ovulation does not occur until after mating, rabbits do not bleed.
However, if you observe your rabbit closely, you will notice that there are signs that indicate that your pet is very interested in mating. Among other things, your rabbit will conspicuously mark its territory.
Behavioral changes, such as increased restlessness or aggressive behavior, can also be caused by a willingness to mate.
Riding up on objects is another sign of your animal’s sexual needs.
So you see, reproduction in rabbits is an exciting topic!
Would you like your rabbit to have kittens, then you will definitely wonder how you can tell that the mating was successful and your rabbit is now pregnant?
Let’s answer this question right in the next section!
Here’s how pregnancy works in rabbits – these are the signs of a successful mating!
The most obvious sign that your rabbit is pregnant is, of course, an increased abdominal girth.
However, this sign is only visible at an advanced stage of pregnancy – logical. Swelling of the teats is also a later, but still obvious sign that your rabbit is expecting offspring.
Early signs of pregnancy can be seen in altered behavior. Many pregnant rabbits are especially cranky and have a – sometimes very noticeable – increased appetite. This increased food intake is very important and should therefore not be prevented under any circumstances.
After about 10 to 12 days you can carefully palpate your rabbit’s abdomen.
From this point on, you should be able to feel “bobbles”‘ in the animal’s abdomen – these are the baby rabbits!
Over the next 20 days or so, the babies will grow in the womb until they finally see the light of day after a total gestation period of about 33 days.
About a week before the baby rabbits will see the light of day, the mother rabbit begins to build her nest. For this purpose, she collects various materials and toys and forms a litter nest for her young.
During this phase, it is especially important that you give your rabbit plenty of rest. Pregnancy is very stressful and unnecessary stress should be avoided for the good of the expectant mother as well as for the health of the babies.
The more stress your rabbit experiences during pregnancy, the more likely there will be problems at birth. In some cases some babies are born dead, in other cases the mother even dies during the birth process. Also, the case of the mother herself killing the offspring is not uncommon (you can find out the reasons here).
Therefore, take the increased need for rest of your animal seriously!
What materials do rabbits use to build their nests?
The materials used to build a nest can vary greatly.
The main component of a nest is usually hay. Therefore, make sure that you provide your rabbit with more hay than usual during the time it is building its nest. Other soft materials such as torn up kitchen roll, toilet paper, etc. are also ideal for nest building.
Since rabbits are rodents, you should only provide materials that your rabbit could gnaw on without harming its health. It is also important to keep smaller hard or sharp objects out of the rabbit’s reach.
You will probably also notice your rabbit pulling out a tuft or two of fur during the nest-building phase. You don’t need to worry about this at all, as fur is also naturally used for nest building.
After the nesting is complete, your rabbit will stop pulling out fur on its own.
Of course, there are a few other things you should keep in mind during your rabbit’s pregnancy to allow for a smooth birth.
You’ll find out exactly what those things are in the next paragraph.
How to support your rabbit during pregnancy
Pregnancy is very hard on the body, both in humans and animals, so during this time it is important to feed your rabbit plenty of fresh food so that it can get all the nutrients it needs from the food it eats.
There are also some foods that have a positive effect on the rabbit’s milk production. These foods are:
However, be sure to avoid feeding parsley and shepherd’s purse – both herbs have a labor-inducing effect!
It is also very important that your rabbit has fresh water available at all times. The immune system is not as strong as usual during pregnancy, which means that bacteria and viruses can lead to illness more easily. Therefore, change the water of your animals in the morning and in the evening.
Water can never be too clean!
During pregnancy, it is also important to have your veterinarian do a blood count. If you find that your rabbit’s blood has a vitamin deficiency or other deficiency, you can easily compensate for this deficiency with various preparations.
Also make sure that you feed your rabbit protein-rich food.
The last tip we can give you is that your rabbit needs rest.
Moving, hectic, noise or other stress often lead to complications during birth. Since you are certainly interested in your rabbit giving birth to healthy babies and recovering quickly from the stressful pregnancy, you will certainly want to give your rabbit this rest.
The babies are here – these are the rules to follow now
If everything goes as planned, your rabbit will give birth to between 3 and 10 kittens after a gestation period of about 30-33 days.
Congratulations, your rabbit is now a mommy!
Baby rabbits are, of course, incredibly cute. Nevertheless, you should give the new rabbit mom and her offspring their well-deserved rest after a short check.
Do not pick up the baby rabbits all the time!
Your rabbit instinctively knows how to take care of her offspring and therefore does not need any support from you. However, you should make sure that the offspring is always in the nest, as long as the kittens are not yet able to move on their own.
It may well be that one of the babies is accidentally dragged out of the nest by the mother while she is drinking. Since baby rabbits need a lot of warmth, it can quickly happen that the little one dies of hypothermia.
Therefore, check regularly to make sure all babies are in the nest.
Also, you need to know that the mother rabbit will only take care of the offspring that are in the nest. Young outside the nest will not be cared for and will eventually starve to death.
All the more reason to keep your eyes open!
During the so-called nest checks, which should be done regularly every few days, it is important that the mother rabbit has a good relationship with you so that she does not get stressed when you touch her babies.
During these checks, always check the general condition of the babies and make sure that their bellies are full. If one of the animals seems weak to you, you can feed it – after consultation with the veterinarian – with the help of a special porridge.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
I take great pride in being the best possible author and giving you the knowledge that i have on all different types of animals!
I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
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