REPRODUCTION AND THE YOUNG
Most Doe rabbits will be ready to breed at 8 months. Smaller varieties may be ready a month earlier and larger varieties may be a month later. It is essential if you’re going to breed a Doe that she bear a litter before she is one year old. This ensures that her pelvic bones do not set too narrow for birth. Bucks, or male rabbits, tend to need more time to mature before breeding. Often, this is just a couple more months, but for some giant breeds, it can be over a year. It’s best to ask the breeder who supplied your rabbit for the proper breeding timeline.
Rabbits do not ovulate on a regular cycle. The mating of a rabbit will cause the Doe to produce eggs necessary for fertilization. Although she has no real heat cycle, she will only accept a Buck in about 12 out of every 14 days. When she is ready to breed her vent area will be a dark pink, red, or purple. Always place a female into a male’s cage. Males placed in new surroundings tend to get distracted with investigating the new surroundings that they forget about the Doe. Once she’s in the cage, observe until mating is completed. It is not uncommon for errors in mating to occur. If the Doe refuses the buck, try it again in a few days.
In order to tell if she is pregnant, you should palpitate her belly in a few weeks. She may already show signs of building a nest, and a nesting box should be placed in her cage so she can prepare.
Does have two uterine sacs and it’s possible to have a Doe pregnant with two litters. This is not recommended, as it can be problematic for the Doe, and the kits usually have health problems if born alive. For that reason, you shouldn’t breed a Doe unless you’re certain she is not already pregnant.
Pregnancies for Does last roughly 30 days. Smaller breeds may be a day or two less and larger breeds may be a day or two longer. You’ll want to be prepared for this occasion. Most Does won’t be nice and have their litters in their nesting boxes. You’ll often have to move the kittens inside the nesting box for their own safety as the wire mesh on the bottom of the cages is often dirty and the holes too big for the small offspring. When touching the kittens, make sure you also touch the Doe and, if possible, rub your finger on her nose to pass your smell onto her. This will help prevent her from rejecting her kittens.
You should try weaning the kittens from the Doe at around 4 weeks. First removing the largest kitten, then the next and so on. If a kitten doesn’t seem to be doing well on it’s own, it can be placed back with the mother for a while longer. By 5 weeks, all kittens should be fully weaned.