Rabbits are known for their habit of producing a large amount of young in their lifetimes, hence where the term “breed like rabbits” comes from!
But knowing how long a rabbit is pregnant for is an essential part of rabbit ownership, particularly if you’re aiming to breed the rabbits you own.
Furthermore, it’s also vital to know how to tell if your rabbit is pregnant, and how to care for your rabbit once you know it’s pregnant.
If you’re unsure on any aspect of rabbit breeding and pregnancy, then we’ve made this handy guide to help you understand everything involved with a rabbit’s pregnancy.
Table of contents
When Do Rabbits Tend To Mate?
The female rabbit is able to get pregnant from the age of 12 weeks old and is then able to reproduce (see also the humorous but also apparently necessary article ‘Do Rabbits Lay Eggs?‘) all the way until the age of 4 years old, which is quite a large amount of time for them to breed.
In addition to this large time period, rabbits don’t breed in any particular season and are therefore able to mate all year round. Which if you happen to own unneutered male and female rabbits, it’s probably best to keep them separately to avoid any accidental pregnancies.
How Do I Know If My Rabbit Is Pregnant?
There are a couple of ways that you’ll be able to tell whether your rabbit is actually pregnant or not, if you have your suspicions.
Then try to keep an eye out for these few signs first:
- Fur Pulling: You may be concerned about your rabbit if it begins pulling out its own fur, but really there’s nothing to worry about! Fur pulling is a typical sign that your rabbit is pregnant, as mother rabbits use their fur in order to help keep their young warm.
- Aggressive Behavior: Rabbits are known to be temperamental, but if your rabbit is typically happy to be handled, stroked, or petted and has suddenly become incredibly defensive, and is refusing to be petted then the likelihood is that your rabbit is pregnant!
- Nest Building: It’s no secret that rabbits do like to pull things around to suit themselves, but if you notice any sort of extensive nest building using their straw or hay then there’s a good chance that they’re pregnant and beginning to anticipate the arrival of their babies!
If you’re suspecting that your rabbit is pregnant, and is showing some of the signs listed above, then the best idea is to take your rabbit to the vet, who’ll be able to perform a scan in order to determine whether your rabbit is pregnant or not.
How Long Does It Take?
Typically, a rabbit’s gestation period will last somewhere between 31 to 33 days, which isn’t a long time at all, especially if you’re late discovering the pregnancy!
When your rabbit is in the process of giving birth, this process is called kindling and usually takes around 15 minutes to complete.
The process of kindling generally happens in the early hours of the morning, but don’t worry too much about staying up to monitor the process, as it’s incredibly instinctive, and obstructions during the process are pretty much unheard of.
You should give the babies a quick check to make sure they’re alive and well, but after that, it’s important to leave the new family alone for a few days. This will help to prevent stressing the mother out at all, which can sometimes lead to her not feeding her young.
As usual, if you have any concerns about your rabbit throughout this process, then it’s best to call a vet.
How Many Rabbits Are There In A Rabbit Litter?
Baby rabbits are known as kits, and a litter of rabbits can contain anywhere up to 14 or 15 kits per litter.
These kits might seem unusual at first, as they’re born hairless, deaf, and blind, and won’t resemble much of a rabbit at all. However, within around 10 days, they begin to develop those distinctive features.
Typically, the mother will nurse her kits twice a day, and for five minutes at a time. This is because of the incredibly rich nature of a rabbit’s milk!
This weaning process will continue until the kits reach about 6 weeks old, and it’s also a smart idea to keep the mother separated from other male rabbits at this time, as female rabbits can actually be re-impregnated just a few hours after they’ve given birth.
As a result of this, a rabbit can actually produce a maximum of 13 litters per year, which is actually rather unhealthy for her. The typical average for a female rabbit is eight to ten litters per year, which is much safer for her health.
How To Rehome Kits
When a rabbit gives birth, there’s a good chance that you’re unlikely to want to keep every single kit, no matter how adorable they become as they develop.
Kits are ready to leave their nest from the age of 8 weeks old, which is a good time to begin looking for a new home for them.
For any prospective owner, you should check that they have a suitable, spacious place to accommodate their new family member, and that they will be fed a healthy diet and able to afford any costs that may occur, such as vet bills.
In conclusion, rabbits aren’t pregnant for much time at all, which is what makes figuring out if they’re pregnant or not as soon as possible incredibly important.
It also means that there is very little time to prepare for the arrival of the kits, especially as there are so many of them! Hopefully, with the help of this guide, you’re now more aware of how a rabbit’s pregnancy works!