Finding out your rabbit is pregnant can be an exciting occasion. Who doesn’t love the idea of a litter of baby bunnies? But you’ll want to be sure in advance that your pet’s expecting, otherwise you may find yourself unprepared for your new colony of animals. It’s important to know rabbits sometimes take on the behaviors of a mama, and yet it’s a false pregnancy. The best way to confirm is to have a vet check her out, but there are other signs to look for as well. Here’s how to tell if a rabbit is pregnant.
She’s recently been with an intact male
It’s certainly one of the most obvious pregnant rabbit signs, but the bunny gestation period is surprisingly short. The babies will remain in utero only for about a month before the mother gives birth, so if she hasn’t been near a mate in that time, she’s probably not pregnant. If you see other symptoms and she’s not carrying offspring, take her to the vet to find out what else might be at issue. If she is carrying a litter, your vet might do an ultrasound to check that everything’s going well.
Your rabbit’s gaining weight
Just like with humans and other mammals, your little animal will get bigger. However, it may be tricky to notice a difference with the naked eye. Take your doe’s weight before pregnancy (but after she’s reached sexual maturity) and weigh her each week after she’s been bred. She might gain only a few ounces, but a digital scale will track her increase. For consistency, always weigh her before feeding. If she is carrying a litter, increase her daily food intake, especially the alfalfa as she needs more nutrients during this time.
You feel her babies
One of the best ways to make sure your rabbit has little ones on the way is to stroke her belly. If she’s in fact pregnant, you’ll feel these pea-sized infants at around 10 days. Be careful with them, though, as pushing too hard can hurt the not-fully-formed bunnies. After two weeks, you shouldn’t try this at all, and a vet will always be your safest bet if you don’t have much experience handling pregnant rabbits.
Her mood changes
Your seemingly loving rabbit suddenly doesn’t like you. Did you do something wrong? Probably not. If she’s pregnant, she may become aggressive, even growling at you and her friends. Be extra careful around her during this time as moms sometimes bite and often don’t want to be handled. It’s best to give her space for now. She’ll be back to normal soon enough. While moodiness isn’t a clear sign on its own to prove that she’s expecting, coupled with other factors, it can indicate that her due date is approaching.
She starts nesting
The little mama will begin to create her nest about a week before she gives birth, which can help you set a timeline if you weren’t quite sure when she conceived. Your rabbit will stack bedding into a corner or dig to make a small den. If there isn’t sufficient material to suit her, she might even rip out her own hair to enlarge the nest and make a blanket for her bunnies. This is a sign that your new pets will be here any day now. Give her plenty of hay to finish her building and a box to help her along. You’ll want to begin to monitor her for signs of labor at about 28 days, though 31 is typical. If it’s been more than 35 days, she needs to be induced by an animal doctor.
This might seem like a hard time to stay away, but mama bunnies know exactly how to do this on their own. Let her have space for her birth and then check on the newborns when she’s done. You might find up to 15 babies with her as rabbit litters can be quite large. We hope all the babies make it, but you should remove any kits that don’t survive. Then retreat while she nurses and bonds with her new family. Keep her away from mates for a while so you don’t have too many little guys at once, and spay or neuter when you’re ready to stop breeding.
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