Figuring out if your rabbit is pregnant is not always easy. Often, you can only confirm a pregnancy by observing weight gain or having a vet palpate the stomach. In general, if you leave a male and a female rabbit together, chances are your rabbit will become pregnant, as rabbits don't go through heat cycles and can become pregnant at any time.
Rabbits reach sexual maturity between the age of 3.5 and 9 months, with larger breeds reaching sexual maturity later. Rabbits don't have a heat cycle, but instead release eggs after intercourse, meaning they are receptive to mating almost all the time. The gestation period is between 31 and 33 days and most rabbits have between one and four babies.
Signs of Pregnancy
Not all rabbits show obvious signs of pregnancy. You might notice your rabbit gaining weight, with larger rabbits gaining up to 400 grams towards the end of the pregnancy. You should also be able to palpate the embryos, which feel like grape-sized lumps, through the abdomen about 12 days after mating. Do this carefully to avoid injuring the babies. If you're uncomfortable or not sure, talk to a vet.
Talking to a Professional
Take your rabbit to a veterinarian for an examination and confirmation if you suspect your pet is pregnant. A veterinarian can safely palpate the abdomen without inflicting injury, and perform diagnostic imaging to determine the number of kits to expect. Vets can also check swelling in the uterus to determine pregnancy.
When Things Go Wrong
Rabbits are very punctual when it comes to delivering babies, and most will give birth by day 32. If labor doesn't happen by then, bring your rabbit to the vet. Failure to deliver by day 34 usually results in the babies dying in uterus. Natural birth takes up to 30 minutes. If your rabbit seems to be in labor for a longer period of time, call your vet right away, as your mama rabbit might be in distress.
- Photo Credit Michael Blann/Photodisc/Getty Images