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How to Breed Pet Rabbits

Last Updated: 03.04.20


You might have read a recent article with our top picks regarding rabbit litter boxes. If you are an owner of such a pet, you are probably interested in balanced rabbit nutrition as well. In this article, we decided to offer some information about the process of pet-rabbit breeding.



Before we start diving into this matter, it might be a good idea to clear up some terms, especially if you are new to this subject. For example, you should know that a female rabbit is called a doe, whereas a male is called a buck. The mother of a baby rabbit is called a dam, and the father, a sire.

Breeding is when you mate two rabbits together. If you check to see if the doe is pregnant, it is called testing. The doe giving birth is called kindling. Gestation is the period between breeding and kindling.

The baby rabbits are called kits, and the bunch of kits is a litter. Weaning is when the young bunnies are taken away from the mother. Also, when you put a box in the hutch lined with hay, it is called nesting.



Age and ancestry

If you decide to start rabbit breeding, it is very important to know exactly when your pet or pets are ready for this. A small breed doe is ready to mate when she is 5 months old, and the buck when he is 6 months old. When it comes to medium-sized rabbits, the doe is ready at 6 months, and the buck at 7 months. A heavy breed doe is ready to mate at 8 months old, and the buck at 9.

Depending on your reasons for breeding pet rabbits, it is recommended to select pets whose ancestry has evidence of good genetics and productivity. It is also good to mate rabbits of the same breed, as you will not be able to sell a pedigree rabbit with mixed blood in its background going back four generations.



You should know that it is not recommended to keep more than one rabbit in a cage after three months of age. These animals mature faster when alone, they do not fight, nor do they breed, eliminating any unexpected results.

Before breeding, it is essential to check the bottom of both the doe and the buck’s cages for evidence of loose stools or diarrhea. Breeding should not proceed until this condition has been treated properly. It is also important to check the genitals of both partners for any signs of infection or disease such as extreme redness, sores, scabbiness, or discharge.


The mating process

When everything is in order and the two pets can breed, always bring the doe into the buck’s cage. This is essential, as if you bring the buck into the doe’s cage, he will have a lower tendency to breed, being too busy to sniff around the cage.

There are people who leave the does with the buck overnight. Others put the doe in, watch to make sure they have mated, and then remove the doe. If you decide on the second option, it is recommended to take the doe back to the buck 1 to 12 hours after the initial meeting, as it will increase the probability of pregnancy, and may even increase the number of kits.



To do things right, you should keep a calendar, as well as accurate records of the date you breed the doe. You can test her between the 10th and the 14th day following the initial breeding. Testing can be done in two ways.

Palpating the lower abdomen of the doe with the thumb and forefinger searching for nodules the size of marbles is the overall preferred method. Another method is to mate the doe with the buck again. This is not only riskier but also more inaccurate, as the doe has two uterine horns each of which can already be carrying babies.

It is also possible for one of the horns to be fertilized on the first mating and the second one on the second breeding. But this can create a hormonal imbalance and cause malformations for the babies in both uteri and even result in the doe passing blobs and not kits.

Moreover, there is a good chance that these mummified blobs could cause serious complications leading to the death of the doe. Therefore, even though some breeders choose the second option of testing, it is not the recommended one.

On the 29th day after the initial breeding, you should place a nest box in the doe’s cage. She should be kindling her litter 31 days after mating.




Partner combinations

One of the most important rules in rabbit breeding is that you should never mate brothers to sisters. Strangely enough, other combinations such as mother-to-son, father-to-daughter, or cousins are fine. Still, until you get more knowledge as to how genetics work with inbreeding, it is recommended not to breed closely related pairs.

We have already mentioned that mating partners of the same breed is recommended. That is unless you are looking to get meat rabbits, doing genetic experiments, or simply not caring about the fate of the offspring. Moreover, you will not be able to sell the babies as pedigree if their ancestry is not of the same breed going four generations back.

You can also mate rabbits of the same breed which have different colors. You should keep in mind that there are many combinations of possibilities when mixing different colors. Some of the kits may have colors that are not recognized by ARBA. It is best to breed partners which have the same color, at least until you know more about how colors interact.

It is also best to avoid breeding rabbits having obvious genetic defects like malocclusion (wolf teeth), moon-eye (cloudy cornea), or that produce offspring with skulls that do not come together. You should determine if it is the doe or the buck passing the genetic defect and not use him or her for breeding purposes.




Irina Ionescu

As a long-term learner and animal lover, Irina helps her readers find the best products and accessories for their pets, as well as the latest training techniques, tips & tricks on how to handle animals.

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