We’ve all heard the saying “breed like rabbits”, yet many of us know little about a rabbits pregnancy. This topic should also be of particular interest to you if you own one or more pet rabbits. Many rabbit owners often want to breed them, as well. So, if you’re interested in understanding a rabbits’ pregnancy, as well as how long are rabbits pregnant for; keep reading.
To sum up this question, a rabbits pregnancy can last anywhere from 30 days to 33. Anything longer may be considered a false pregnancy or the rabbit is having trouble delivering her babies. Interestingly enough, rabbits can be bred again a day after delivery.
When do Rabbits Mate?
If you have a male rabbit and a female rabbit housing together, there is a big chance that they will end up mating. When the female rabbit is about 12 weeks old, she becomes fertile and can become pregnant. The female rabbits stay fertile for four years. Whereas male rabbits are able to mate up till they are seven years old.
What about the season or time of the year? Rabbits are different than most other animals in this regard. They can conceive at any given time so it is very possible that your rabbit can mate and get pregnant whenever she is in close contact with a male.
How Long is a Rabbits Pregnancy?
Unlike humans who wait 9 months before they can give birth, rabbits’ pregnancy length is only 30 to 33 days. If you are looking forward to meeting your pet rabbit’s offspring, you really don’t have to wait long at all.
However, if the gestation period lasts longer than this, it may indicate a false pregnancy. Or, it may mean that the litter has died and your rabbit had a miscarriage. If you are sure that your rabbit is pregnant and still has not given birth after 33 days, you must consult a vet. They will induce the rabbits’ labor to prevent miscarriage or death of her infants while preventing any health complications.
It is also interesting how a rabbit can give birth to one or even twelve baby rabbits. Furthermore, rabbits can again get pregnant within days after giving birth.
Rabbit False Pregnancy Symptoms
False pregnancy is a possible scenario if the male rabbit or even another female mounts the rabbit to establish dominance. Sometimes, a pseudopregnancy even occurs in female rabbits who were living alone and did not come in contact with another rabbit.
Essentially, this false pregnancy results due to ovulation and release of the egg or ova. The uterus also starts to develop and prepare the rabbits’ body to give birth but the levels of gestational hormones remain low. Hence, it is practically a false alarm.
It is completely normal and possible for a rabbit to go through multiple false pregnancies. There are some symptoms that rabbits show when false pregnant:
- The female rabbit would start building a nest that can be made of hay and straw. Interestingly, this is an instinctive process started by the mother herself.
- Another fascinating behavior and symptom of pregnancy is fur-pulling. The mother to be will start pulling out her own fur just to keep her babies warm.
- A pregnant rabbit would also exhibit aggression. You might notice them growling, acting defensive, or not liking it if you stroke or pet it.
- Developing mammary glands.
If you suspect your rabbit is pregnant, the best way to confirm it is by taking it to a vet.
Breeding and Birthing Process
Rabbits should be given some time together to mate. It is better to let them mate multiple times as this makes the breeding process easier and more successful. About 10-12 days after they have been bred, you may be able to feel a number of bumps; the size of marbles, inside the belly of the rabbit. They will continue to grow for weeks until a month later when the rabbit gives birth.
A week before she gives birth, the female will also show nesting. A sign of nesting is that she will start digging, mostly in a corner. The rabbit also starts making bedding using hay and other items to create a birthing space.
Mostly, rabbits give birth at night or early morning hours. Rabbits can give birth instinctively and seldom require human help. Their birthing process is called ‘kindling’ and it takes generally only takes 15 minutes.
So, now you know why people say “breed like rabbits”. These furry animals have amazing birthing patterns after all.