What to Prepare for When Your Rabbit is Expecting

What to Prepare for When Your Rabbit is Expecting

Posted 2015-02-18 by mikejfollow
Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Whether you have recently bought a new small animal as a pet from a pet store, or you’re intentionally breeding a pair of rabbits in order to sell the litter, some magic has been worked and you have a pregnant doe on your hands! Pregnancies for small animals do not last nearly as long as in humans so if you suspect your doe is pregnant it is important to get her checked out quickly by a vet so that you can take all the necessary steps to ensure a safe delivery when the time comes.

Rabbits generally start to show signs of pregnancy around 2 weeks after mating, with the ideal time being around 12 days after mating. After this time the babies will start growing exponentially and it will become quite obvious that she may be pregnant! However do not take this as a sure-fire sign as false pregnancies are very common in rabbits, so check with your vet to be sure.

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Other common signs of pregnancies are that your doe will become easily annoyed and may not take so well to being handled or picked up. She may start to growl and she may rest on her side more often so as to more evenly distribute the baby weight. You might even be able to see movement in the abdomen of the little kits.

Check with the Vet and keep track of the time.

If you suspect your doe is pregnant, get her to a vet as soon as possible as they will be able to make a more accurate diagnosis. This is important as pregnancies should run between 31-33 days and no longer. If your rabbit does not go into labour by day 32, the chances of a stillborn litter is incredibly likely.

A nesting box needs to be provided for your doe around 26 days into her nesting period. A few days before she is due to give birth you should see her pulling fur out to line the nesting box. You can also line this with paper bedding or soft hay to help increase the insulation of the nesting box.

You should also start cutting down her food, but keep her hydrated with bowls of water as this helps to reduce medical problems such as mastitis (inflammation of the breast tissue) and ketosis (abnormal accumulation of ketone bodies in the blood stream).

Nutrition is Important
Your new mama is eating for two or more now! It is important to give your doe access to clean, fresh water at all times. Start to gradually replace her regular food with more nutritious alternatives. Carrots, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, parsley and alfalfa hay are all recommended in helping your rabbit get the nutrition she needs for a healthy pregnancy. You can also help by giving her more rabbit pellets than usual.

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Once she has given birth it is important to wean her back onto her normal diet. Gradually go back to the normal servings and she should be absolutely fine within 2 weeks of giving birth.

Check the Newborns after Birth
After the initial birth try not to disturb the litter or the nest box too much as this can frighten the kits and cause stress. Check that they are breathing and drinking milk from the mother and leave them for a few hours. Four or five hours after the birth, try to gently distract your doe while you inspect the kits. If there are any dead kits make sure to remove them as they can infect the healthy ones. After the inspection, cover the kits back up and leave them be.

Keep an eye on the kits; should one fall out of the nest do not hesitate to put it back in as the doe will not.

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Don’t worry about getting your scent on the kits, most likely your bunt is used to your scent by now. After 10 days they should open their eyes; check for infections when this happens and also check for eyes that may be stuck shut.

After about a month kits should start eating solid foods as they start getting weaned off their mother’s milk. At 8 weeks the kits should be removed from the doe as the mother may start getting agitated and could attack the kits.

Proper Aftercare
Once the kits have been born and they are old enough to go out to new homes, make sure to do sufficient research for possible candidates. Overpopulation is a serious issue with pet rabbits so try to recommend Spaying and Neutering for the litter once they have reached 4 months and 3 months old respectively.

In the case of your own doe, if the pregnancy was as a result of an accidental pet shop breeding, or if you had thought she was spayed originally, it is important to spay her now so as to prevent future pregnancies. If she is homed with a buck then it is important to keep him away from the doe after birth as re-breeding can occur as soon as 72 hours after the initial birth!

Whether it was an intentional pregnancy or a complete accident it is important to give your pet and her new kits the time, love and attention they need as although it is rare for difficulties to occur while giving birth, the nutrition and well-being of your doe can be significantly affected by the kits. If all goes well then you’ll have a beautiful new litter to find homes for!

Mike James
Content Editor


239914 - 2023-07-18 04:45:13


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