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Knowing how to tell if a rabbit is pregnant is not easy. Especially if you are a new rabbit raiser.
It takes time and practice. There are not a ton of options for seeing if a female rabbit is pregnant. You need to wait at least a week (more likely two weeks) to be able to tell and confidently say “yes, she is pregnant” or no she’s not.
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And with a gestation period of about 31 days if you are not comfortable with trying to do any of these methods it’s not going to be long before you’ll know for sure because your mother rabbit will have had her baby bunnies before long anyway.
If you get to the end of a 31-33 day gestation period and your female rabbit has not had her litter it was likely a false pregnancy.
Basically, the rabbit’s body behaves as if it is pregnant. Her belly will get big and she may even become sweeter. Which is normal for does.
My Number One Tip For Pregnancy In Rabbits
The best way to be sure your rabbit is pregnant is sure that the buck did at least one fall off. He will grunt and fall to one side or the other. If you can get him to do it twice is even better.
Getting more fall-offs will increase the average litter size if you are consistent.
How To Tell If A Rabbit Is Pregnant Through Palpation
The most common among rabbit breeders is palpation. However, you have to wait about two weeks before you’re able to feel the babies and even then it can be questionable if it’s a baby or a clump of poo that you’re feeling.
Pregnant rabbits are not that large yet at two weeks along. Regardless, the way to do it is to take the doe out of her cage and place her on a piece of carpet on a table.
Place your hand under her belly and flank area.
Not extremely hard but press your thumb and fingers together to see if you are able to feel a baby or two. You will often find the baby rabbits closer to her back than the bottom of her belly. I have practiced on does that I knew we’re pregnant in a French Lop baby feels about the size of a seeded grape at 2 weeks.
But even then if they are hiding up towards the rib cage or the spine it can be hard to find anything at all. French lops are big animals and there are plenty of places for the baby rabbits to hide.
I do think it is easier on a smaller breed but honestly, I think learning to “read” your rabbit is easier.
How To “Read” Your Doe To Tell If She Is Pregnant
My favorite way is just to watch the doe’s behavior and her belly. There are the obvious signs of pregnancy like a doe will start eating more and, especially French lops, will become lazy and start laying around more.
It depends on the doe but often within 3-7 days you will see a change in temperament.
You will start to see her belly grow around 2 weeks but by 3 weeks you will have no problem knowing if she is pregnant.
If the doe is pregnant her body weight will start to increase the final week of her pregnancy.
This image is of a doe that is further along. But this is how I often tell if she is close to having her babies. Normally within 48hrs her belly “drops” as I like to call it. You can almost see a separation from her ribs and belly.
So I would not be a rabbit blogger if I did not at least touch on this. There is such a thing as “test breeding” which is putting the doe back in with the buck around two weeks and if she downright refuses him then you know she is likely bred.
There are a few reasons I don’t love this idea.
Does do not always cooperate with being bred anyway even if they are “in the mood”. So unless she is a pro she doesn’t always get things quite right.
Second, even if she does not “lift” for him and he “gets it right” she could end up with two different age rabbit litters in her ovarian horns. Once she goes into labor she will birth babies that are not ready to be born. It could also cause her to not want to care for the babies she has. Rabbits are funny creatures and it’s best not to throw a wrench into what already works.
You want to make sure to give your doe a nest box around day 29 because if she delivers early you do not want to miss the time. But giving her a nest box to early can cause her to soil it.
The female bunnies will start nest building usually 24-48hrs before they are due. Some will even wait until they go into labor.
It really doesn’t matter so long as they do.
Like I said it takes time and practice to know if a rabbit is pregnant. If you are a breeder and are having trouble with getting a doe bread just keep at it. There are some years or seasons when things just don’t go as well. Not what you want to hear I know but it is just the case sometimes.
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