Caring for Your Pregnant Rabbit

Rabbit expert Karen Patry shares her knowledge on palpating, housing and feeding pregnant rabbits.

  • Palpation, which should be learned if you plan on breeding rabbits, can be performed on the doe 10 to 12 days after mating.
    Illustration by Elara Tanguy
  • Rabbit fetuses in the tenth day of pregnancy should be the size of olives or grapes.
    Illustration by Elara Tanguy
  • Certain does, like this one with her belly overlapping her waist, like to lie in favorite positions while pregnant.
    Illustration by Elara Tanguy
  • “The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver,” by Karen Patry, gives the first-time pet owner and the experienced livestock farmer alike information on raising the domestic rabbit.
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver (Storey Publishing, 2014), by Karen Patry, addresses questions and concerns about housing, feeding and breeding rabbits at every stage in their lives. From choosing productive meat and fiber breeds to preparing a proper nest box and coaxing a fussy bunny to eat, you’ll find proven answers and humane solutions to your rabbit-raising quandaries. In the following excerpt “Is the Time Right?” from Chapter 7, “The Pregnant Rabbit,” Patry teaches you how to determine whether your doe is pregnant and how to house and feed her if kits are on their way.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver.

“Is my rabbit pregnant?” is the question in every pet owner’s or rabbit breeder’s mind. I know you’re dying of curiosity, but rest assured that if your buck and your doe have rendezvoused, a litter will almost certainly follow. Rabbit pregnancies are amazingly predictable. Just about 99 percent of the time, the doe will kindle her litter in the evening of the 31st day after being bred.

So you may as well mark two dates on your calendar. Okay, three dates, if you’re looking for an answer asap.

• Day 12: Palpate your doe’s abdomen for telltale signs of pregnancy.
• Day 28: Give your doe a nest box stuffed with nest-building materials.
• Day 31: Expect kits in the late evening. That might be the same thing as the morning of day 32, which is when you’ll jump out of bed and race to your rabbit’s cage to see if the blessed day has indeed arrived.

Don’t panic if there are no bunnies, however; a few does can be quirky and might just be hanging on to those kits just to make you wait a few extra days.

3/2/2021 5:44:41 PM

This helps a lot! But I don't know when my rabbits started breeding😐. Oh well

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