Rabbit Gestation Period: A Guide for Aspiring Breeders

Understanding the rabbit gestation period is not only important but also helpful when raising rabbits on your backyard farm or homestead. You will be able to tell the success of a breeding based on her physical signs and rule out a false pregnancy.

The average gestation period for rabbits typically falls between 31 and 33 days, which is one of the fastest gestation periods in the animal world. 

While it may be a short time period it doesn’t reaising rabbit litters is easy. Some rabbit breeds more than others but some have a hard time raising successful litters. I’ll give you some tips you can implement during the gestation period to help increase the chances of a breeding being successful.

rabbit gestation period intro image

Average Rabbit Gestation Period

The gestation period of a rabbit refers to the duration of pregnancy from conception to birth. 

The average gestation period of rabbits typically lasts between 31 to 33 days. This relatively short duration sets rabbits apart from many other mammals.

Knowing the length of a rabbit’s pregnancy is crucial for rabbit owners and breeders to prepare for the arrival of new kits. About 2-3 days before the due date rabbits need to have a nest box so they can start nest building before the babies arrive. YOu don’t want to wait too long and the doe gets the idea to build a nest in an unsafe space for the kits.

female rabbit on a table

Nine times out of ten rabbits will have their babies on day 31 but sometimes there are seasons when they run a bit late. Personally, I don’t get into the “woo-woo” stuff BUT after two decades of raising rabbits, I have noticed that some years are just different. It could be the weather, moon cycles, or who knows what. But in 2024 early in the year, I had all of my does go two days late. All of the litters were healthy with no issues.

There have also been years where all the litters are just not working out or we only ended up with a few kits. Then I get to a rabbit show and talk to some of the old timers and they are having the same issues. 

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Signs of Pregnancy in Rabbits

Here are some ways you can tell if your rabbit is pregnant. It’s not always as obvious as you might think. Let’s look into the subtle signs of pregnancy in rabbits that you can keep an eye out for.

Behavioral Changes

The only way you are going to be able to tell in the first week to two weeks is her behavior should change.

It depends on your doe’s normal behavior but most does will get grumpy when they are “in heat” or are interested in having a litter. So once she gets bred she should start to get nicer and may even want lots of attention. 

female rabbit sitting on a table

This was a first for me this year, but some pregnant rabbits might display territorial behaviors. She is more protective of her space because she is getting ready for the arrival of their kits.

Some expectant rabbits may exhibit various changes in behavior, such as heightened nesting activity. If you notice your rabbit frantically digging or rearranging bedding in their enclosure. BUT this shouldn’t happen until later in her pregnancy.

Physical Changes

She May Get Wider: You may not notice your doe get wider or her body weight may not change until the last 10 days or so of her gestation. Especially if it is her first litter.

Baby Movement: But sometimes if you watch close while the doe is relaxing and her belly is pushed to one side you may see babies moving in her belly. They look almost like hotdogs on a hotdog roller.

Firm Belly: Her belly should feel firm in the midsection. Almost like a water balloon that has not been filled to its max capacity.

While the physical signs of pregnancy in rabbits may not always be apparent, paying attention to their behavioral cues and nesting habits can help you be ready when the litter is close to being born.

female rabbit nesting in a nest box

Care During Rabbit Gestation

Here are some tips to give you the best chance of success with the your rabbit litter.

Nutritional Needs And Feeding Tips

  • Do not change anything about what you are feeding her from the time she is bred until the kits are a few weeks old.
  • Do not give your rabbit herbs or anything from the yard unless she is ill and you are trying to save her. This can cause a miscarriage in the litter.

Feeding your rabbit a balanced diet is essential for pregnant rabbits. Your doe needs to be fed 16-18% protein rabbit pellets. DO NOT increase vegetable intake. There is almost no protein in them and if the rabbits fill up on veggies they will not have room to eat the pellets, causing them not to have the nutrition they need to support the litter.

Your rabbit may want to eat more feed around the second week of her gestation. But just like the rest of the rabbits, while I will increase her amount of feed, I only give them the amount they will clean up in 24 hours.

Making sure the mother rabbit gets the nutrients she needs will not only support her health but also contribute to the development of healthy baby rabbits and her ability to feed them after they are born.

Nesting Preparation

Give the doe a nesting box around day 27-28 of her gestation. Your pregnant rabbit must have one for the safety of the kits during birth and as they grow. If she just makes a nest in the corner of her cage they will roll out in her living space and get stepped on and if they don’t have enough fur yet they will die because they got cold.

two rabbit nesting boxes

Give the doe a nest box in a warm, quiet, and secluded space where the mother rabbit can build a nest. Give her nesting materials such as pine shavings, straw (my personal favorite), or shredded paper so she can start nesting.

Ensure that the nesting area is free from disruptions and predators to minimize stress on the pregnant rabbit. Even if you have a pet dog that won’t cause any harm your rabbit doesn’t know that and she could stress out and refuse to use the nest or even kill her newborn bunnies.

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Have A Plan For Your Rabbits

Baby rabbits are cute and it’s tempting to have them “just for fun” but they grow up fast and eat just as much as adult rabbits QUICK. Whether you are raising rabbits in your backyard for fun or you are raising them to sustain your family with meat make sure you have a plan of what you are going to do with the kits once they need to be separated at 10 weeks old. 

If baby rabbits are left together for too long they will start to be aggressive towards eachother as they start to reach sexual maturity. I have had does as young as 9 weeks old fight eachother and break skin. It’s not a pretty picture.

If you don’t have a strategy for your homestead or backyard farm the Intentional Backyard Farm Strategy Guide can help you with that.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Gestation Period: The gestation period of a rabbit typically lasts between 31 and 33 days. During this relatively short time, it’s important to monitor the pregnant rabbit’s health closely. Keep her calm and don’t change anything about her normal routine.
  2. Signs of Pregnancy: While some pregnant rabbits may show physical signs like weight gain or a rounded belly, others may not display noticeable changes. The main difference is her behavior.
  3. Nesting Box: Give the does a nest box around day 28 of gestation to allow her to create a nest for her litter.
two young rabbits sitting on a table

Raising rabbits is fun but like anything the cost can add up. It’s not impossible to get your rabbitry to pay for itself and then some. Learn how I earn multiple four figures a year from my small rabbitry in the Profitable Rabbitry Playbook.

You owe it to your rabbits to be financially stable. When you are not stressed about money you can enjoy your animals so much more. Learn how to do that here.

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