The rate at which rabbits breed is nothing but notorious. What are the two most common situations that lead to a pregnant rabbit? The first case is when you get a pet rabbit from a place where she was housed with another male rabbit and the second case is where you let both the male and female rabbit spend time with each other for a long time. In either situation, you could finally welcome baby rabbits in this world.
Rabbits are wonderful animals that are usually bred both for commercial reasons and companionship. There are times when breeders don’t know the history of a rabbit and they may sell a rabbit to a new home without knowing if the rabbit was neutered or spayed. Regardless of whether you’re trying to breed rabbits or you’ve recently adopted one, you might fear it may get pregnant. To know more on rabbit physiology, here are few things to know on rabbit pregnancy.
DETERMINE WHETHER YOUR RABBIT IS PREGNANT
#1: Your rabbit has to be palpated
Unless a doe (Female rabbit) carries a large litter, she won’t show any definite external signs of pregnancy. This is why breeders or vets palpate or inspect gently by using their hands or fingers into the abdomen of the rabbit to understand whether she is pregnant. Within 2 weeks of conception, you’re supposed to feel the younger ones inside the mother’s abdomen. However, feeling the foetuses without actually hurting them requires skill. The veterinarian or the animal breeder should never be a novice before attempting to palpate a pregnant rabbit.
#2: Weigh the rabbit
Much as a pregnant human being, a pregnant rabbit will also gain weight when she is pregnant. Nevertheless, this weight isn’t too large or you might not find any noteworthy difference. The best way in which you can determine a rabbit’s pregnancy is by utilizing an appropriate digital scale and by comparing that weight to the previous weight when she was not pregnant. On an average, a pregnant doe gains 0.029 kg during her first week of pregnancy and gains 0.057 kg by the completion of the second week.
#3: Allow a vet to conduct an ultrasonography
Just as in humans, an ultrasound or an ultrasonography is probably the best way of determining whether a rabbit is pregnant. After the initial 6 days of gestation, you will get a 100% accurate result. Your vet may perform an ultrasound inside his office to decide whether or not your rabbit is pregnant.
UNDERSTANDING PHYSIOLOGY OF RABBITS
#1: Know about the life cycles of rabbits
Majority of the rabbits reach their age of sexual maturity by the time they are 3-6 months of age. In fact, female rabbits can conceive when they are only 12 weeks of age although this isn’t said to be healthy or safe for a rabbit. In case your rabbit is younger than 12 weeks, most likely, she isn’t pregnant. On the contrary, if she is more than 2-3 years of age, she may be too old to conceive. Hence, in this case too, a rabbit is most probably not pregnant.
#2: Trace the tendencies of rabbit breeding
Did you know that rabbits are capable of breeding all throughout the year? However, fertility among males decreases when the weather reaches its extreme in both summer and winter. Most likely, rabbits conceive during the time when the weather is mild as in fall or spring. Unlike other animals that move into heat, rabbits are induced ovulators. The body of a female rabbit physically prepares for conceiving without 8 hours of mating with a male rabbit.
PREPARE FOR THE LITTER
#1: Disconnect the female from the males
Once you know for sure that the doe is pregnant, it is vital to disconnect the male rabbits from the female. This is because the male could again make the female pregnant within few hours after she gives birth. This can lead to excessive stress for the female rabbit and make it impossible for the female to complete weaning her current litter. There are few animal experts who recommend finding out a new way where the female and male rabbits interact without being in the same cage.
#2: Know the period of gestation
Rabbits usually tend to gestate for between 31 and 33 days. In case the pregnancy goes longer than this, it can be a false pregnancy. Or there are chances that the litter might have died inside the doe. There are some veterinarians who advice inducing labor post 32 days to prevent the risk of complications that may arise due to the litter dying within the mother’s womb.
#3: Make sure the doe is fed properly
If your rabbit is pregnant, it is vital to make sure that she is getting enough water and food. Experts always ask you to slowly increase the food that you give to a pregnant doe. You should also offer the doe enough of alfalfa hay as this is rich in nutrients that are required for a pregnant doe.
FEEDING A PREGNANT RABBIT
It is true that nursing rabbits and pregnant ones will consume more food as they’re feeding themselves and the babies that are growing inside them. The total number of fresh veggies that you provide to the rabbit should be increased. As mentioned earlier, alfalfa should be given all the times. If you’ve been feeding him grass hays, gradually increase the portion to that of a rabbit. Mix the two types of hays until you totally switch over. Don’t forget to offer freshwater in a bowl as usual.
FALSE RABBIT PREGNANCY – WHAT IS IT?
There are few rabbits that experience false pregnancy where the body of the rabbits think it is pregnant in spite of the case not being so. When there is an instance of false pregnancy, a rabbit exhibits nesting behavior and even acts moody. Such behaviors usually last for 2-3 weeks.
Therefore, now that you’re aware of rabbit pregnancy in detail, you know what to do when you want your rabbit or doe to mate and give you a new fresh litter of baby rabbits. Take into account all the above listed points before bringing home a rabbit.