Knowing how to tell if your 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 she 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.
And with a gestation 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 and be able to find out.
How To Tell If Your 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.
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 had 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. They are often closer to her back then 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.
I do think it is easier on a smaller breed but honestly, I think learning to “read” your do is easier.
How To “Read” Your Doe
My favorite way is just to watch the doe’s behavior and her belly. There are the obvious things 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. I always recommend a buck as a pet unless you intend to have a doe fixed. Does need bread a least once a year to keep their mood in check. They get a little grouchy if not bred. It’s funny but true.
You may luck out and end up with a doe that doesn’t get to fussy but there are some that go as far as not waning touched.
You will start to see hints of pregnancy around 2 weeks but by 3 weeks you will have no problem knowing if she is pregnant.
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 wold 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 babies 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.
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.
Once you know your doe is pregnant you should put a nesting box in with her about 3 days before she is due to deliver. Read about my nesting box tips here.