We’re sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘breed like rabbits’ – and guess what? It’s not an idle comparison. As a prey species, rabbits are extremely fast and successful at breeding in the wild.
However, it can be a little more challenging to breed rabbits and other small furry creatures (such as guinea pigs or gerbils) in domestic circumstances.
If you plan to breed them at home in Northamptonshire, you need to be well-prepared and also make sure that your pets are healthy. And if you need advice, don’t forget to talk to our vet nurses, who can offer advice and support at our Rockingham Road practice.
Rabbit breeding and pregnancy – the basics
A female rabbit (doe) is usually able to mate from the age of 12 weeks and can have babies (kits) up to the age of 4 years, while male rabbits (bucks) can normally reproduce up until the age of 7 years.
So, if you keep a male and female rabbit together and neither is neutered, you could end up with a huge number of babies on your hands – especially as each pregnancy only lasts around 31-33 days.
Your female rabbit is likely to be pregnant if she:
- Starts pulling out her own fur
- Becomes more aggressive and starts growling, or refusing contact
- Builds a nest out of hay or straw
It’s important to provide her with lots of clean water and suitable food, then watch out each morning for the birth (known as kindling). It’s unusual for rabbits to need any help, so you should keep your distance, especially as any disturbance may discourage a mother from feeding.
What to expect after baby rabbits are born
An average rabbit litter has six kits, although it can be anywhere between one and 14. After 10 days they will start to look more like rabbits, but at birth they are deaf, blind and hairless.
The babies will feed from their mother twice a day (dawn and dusk), then are usually ready for weaning onto supplied food once they reach 4-6 weeks of age.
But beware – female rabbits can become pregnant again mere hours after giving birth, so you might want to keep males separate for a while.
At Rockingham Road Veterinary Surgery, we can provide advice about:
- Breeding – how to make sure your rabbits are healthy enough to reproduce safely
- Pregnancy care – the best foods and environment for your doe
- Caring for kits – how to give your baby rabbits the best start in life