What Month Do Rabbits Have Babies, Easy Ways To Tell Your Doe Is Ready To Breed

If you are wondering what month rabbits have babies becuase you are trying to raise domestic rabbits the short answer is, it doesn’t matter.

Rabbits are not like dogs or deer where they have to be in heat to be bred. They can get pregnant at any time. BUT there are certain times of the year when both wild rabbits and domestic rabbits are more frisky and in the mood than others.

So let’s go with what month rabbits have babies in the wild and then I will cover in a whole lot more detail about when your domestic rabbits could have babies and some tips around when they are more likely to be in the mood.

What Month Do Rabbits Have Babies

Ok, so wild rabbits like eastern cottontail rabbits will have their babies from about March to September depending on what climate you live in. Here further north we don’t see young rabbits in the wild until at least April.

Mother cotton tail rabbit

Wild baby rabbits grow WAY faster than domestic rabbits. The mother rabbit will dig a shallow hole in the ground and keep her kits buried safe in that hole until they are about 10 days old. By the time they are about 4 weeks of age, the baby cottontails are on their own.

I will get into more detail later but domestic rabbits are less inclined to the seasons and will breed whenever their hormones are ready to go. But if you are raising rabbits and can control the situation, April to September is best to have domestic baby rabbits born so you are not trying to keep newborn rabbits warm.

What To Do If You Find A Nest Of Baby Rabbits In The Wild

A wild rabbit nests in some of the dumbest places. It is not uncommon for them to put their new nest in the middle of your backyard right where you mow. Or for us in the backyard where two dachshunds roam.

If you find a nest and it doesn’t not in any danger where it is then it’s best to just leave it. Sometimes the rabbit will find a good spot and be in a landscaped garden and use the shrubby areas as cover.

But if you find a nest that is in a bad spot you could put a flag close by the nest to remind yourself not to mow that spot with the lawn mower. The kits will be out and running around in less than two weeks anyway.

young cotton tail rabbits

A rabbit’s nest in the open areas of your yard it will often look like a patch of dead grass in your yard from the mama rabbit digging small holes and then using the grass to cover up the top of the nest.

If you find one of these and you don’t see or feel any baby rabbits in it or other is a shallow hole with no fur in it then it is safe to say the pregnant rabbit has not had her infant rabbits yet. If it is in a bad spot say where your dogs frequent then put a rock over the hole or something to get a human scent like an old rag in the whole. Whatever you can do to get the rabbit to not use that hole and go find another safe place.

DO NOT move the nest if the kits are already in the nest. While domestic rabbits are not going to abandon their kits the wild rabbits are just going to assume the kits got eaten and move on if they can’t find their kits.

If you do not see the mother rabbit it does not mean that she abandoned them. The mother will come in the early morning to feed her kits and then leave. The longer she says around the nest the more likely the baby rabbits are to be noticed by a predator.

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What Time Of Year Are Adult Rabbits Ready To Breed

It doesn’t matter if they are domestic or wild rabbits the early spring is what triggers their brain to go “oh it’s warming up and there will be food again” which is the optimal time to raise baby bunnies.

The longer light hours are the first thing that triggers them to think that warmer time is coming. Then the slightly warmer temps are also what gets them feeling frisky.

Think about it. In the wintertime, there are way fewer food sources, especially for wild rabbits and herbivores. On top of that predators are more aggressive because of the lack of food and they are much easier to spot because of the lack of tall grass, brush piles, and vegetation to hide in. Causing prey animals to not have babies. While rabbits can get pregnant at any time spring tends to be the easiest time to make it work if you are breeding your rabbits on the homestead.

Two week old baby rabbits

What Month Is Best To Have A Litter Of Baby Rabbits

Along side the time of year there are a few things to think about when planning your rabbit litter.

If you keep your pet rabbits in your house then the time of year isn’t going to make as much of a difference. But you may have a little bit of a struggle false pregnancy in your rabbits. Because of the fewer hours of natural light, they may still be triggered to think it is wintertime.

The best breeding season if your rabbits live outside in a barn or shelter is April to September. You need to make sure that the kits are going to be born in weather that is 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above for the best chance of survival.

Kits are born without hair and have a really hard time staying warm. They need to be in a nest covered in rabbit fur that the female rabbit has pulled to cover the babies.

litter of 5 week old french lops

I like to breed around the first of March every year and then the first litter of rabbits should be born in April. While in the north you can always have a cold snap but it shouldn’t be too bad that early in the year.

Then the last breeding is done early to mid-August so the kits are born in September and they are able to have lots of fur and be strong and healthy before the cold weather starts to come in October.

How Old Should A Rabbit Be To Have Their First Litter

This is going to depend on the breed of rabbit and what the full-grown size of the rabbit is. Smaller breeds can have a litter much younger than giant breeds of rabbits because they mature faster.

Here is a list of weights and age groups rabbits can be bred based on their senior (full-grown) weight.

  • 6 pounds and under can be bred at 4-6 months of age.
  • 7-10 Pounds can be bred at 6-8 months of age.
  • 11+ 8-10 months of age or once they reach the minimum weight of their breed standard.
Young litter of french lops

Tips To Know If Your Rabbits Are Ready To Breed

There are some key things you can check for to see if your doe is ready to breed. For the most part, the buck will be ready and willing any time. But on the really hot days you are not likely to get very much effort out of him either. So waiting until it is the cool of the morning or the next cool day will get you the best results for either rabbit.

Signs your doe is ready to mate.

  • Most does get pretty grumpy when they are ready to mate. She might be grumbling at you and she may even jump or charge at you. (This is the ONLY time I will allow that kind of behavior in my rabbits)
  • Next you should take your doe out of her cage and put her on a flat surface. Run your hand over her rump and when you get to her hips be a little more firm about it and put your fingers into her fur almost like you are trying to feel her skin and “tickle” her hips. This is similar to the motion that the buck would do if he were mounting her. If she starts to twitch or push out flat then you know she is ready to mate.

While your does do not have to be in a flirtatious mood to be bred it will help you get the job done better.

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Signs Of Pregnancy

A rabbit’s gestation period is 29-33 days but most rabbits have their litters on day 31. Some genetics can play a factor if they go later as well as how large the litter is. If the litter is huge then the doe will not be as likely to go late.

The average litter size fully depends on the breed and the genetic lines of the rabbit. Smaller breeds have 3-6 kits per litter, some giant breeds like French Lops tend to have smaller litters around 6-8 kits and some breeds like Newzeland or Californians can have as many as 12 in their litter. However, it’s pretty tough for all of those kits to make it.

rabbit nest box

First Signs Of Pregnancy

  • Most does get a little grumpy when they have not been bred or when they are in the mood to be bred. So if the breeding was successful most does will start being a bit nicer and be more laid back 5 days or so after the breeding.
  • About 14 days after the breeding you might start to notice the doe’s belly looks just a bit bigger. But not much. If your doe has not had a litter before it will be closer to 21 days before e you notice a difference in her size.
  • The doe will start eating more the last week of her pregnancy and that is completely fine. Feed her what she will clean up in a day.
  • On day 27 or so after the breeding make sure to give your doe a proper nest box (in the image above). Some does will start nesting a few days before they are due and some might piddle around in the box when you first give it to them and not do anything with it until right before the kits are going to be born.
  • The closer the new litter comes to being born you will notice your doe start to nest. She should start pulling fur so there is a thick layer of fur in the nest to keep the baby rabbits warm.
Doe sitting in a nest box

No matter what species of rabbits you are wondering when to expect babies as a general guide springtime is the best to have babies.

The nest should be lined with mama’s fur to keep the kit’s body temperature warm. Domestic rabbits can get pregnant at any time so it is important to keep your pair of rabbits separate so you do not have constant litters being born. A doe can get pregnant while she is still raising one litter. So make sure you do not let an intact male rabbit with your does.

Raising young rabbits is something that will make your heart smile. So make sure to learn all you can about raising rabbits, how to make sure they are getting enough of their mother’s milk, and how to transition them to solid foods are good places to start.

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