Tuesday, February 27, 2024

How Often Do Rabbits Go Into Heat? (Detailed Guide)


The heat period of rabbits is often an underestimated one. As a rabbit owner, you should know how often do rabbits go into heat. This leaves you prepared to handle needs and signs of your doe and buck at home.

Before we get into the subject of heat, remember that most of the contents in this article are meant for house rabbits. As you begin reading this article, you will get a detailed guide on signs to detect and other do’s and don’ts to protect your bunnies at all times.

How often do rabbits go into heat?

Female rabbits (doe) enter the heat period right from 5 months of age once a month and can reproduce while male rabbits (buck) are always ready to mate females with no cycle in specific.

Rabbits go into heat usually once a month and the cycle lasts for around 6-12 days. However, this can vary from rabbit to rabbit. The reproductive system of rabbits is very delicate and there are many factors that affect when they will go into heat such as stress, illness, or even time of year (season).

The fact that a rabbit goes into heat only once a month makes reproduction very difficult. Gestation in rabbits takes just 28-35 days from conception so a female rabbit would have to be inseminated at least twice a month to keep up with the pregnancy.

How often do female rabbits go into heat?

As with all other species, female rabbits will go into heat (estrus) when they are ready to reproduce from as early as 6 months of age or even younger depending on the size of the breed.

Coming to my experience, I have had a doe that did not go into heat for nearly 8 months but at the end of each month from the 9th month, we just became extra careful so she doesn’t reproduce. She was already a weak girl!

Since a doe is only receptive to the male for a short period of time, mating can occur many times during a week or more since the male may mate with the doe several times before she becomes pregnant.

When such an event happens, you have to be careful about the health condition of the doe. A weak doe does not withstand several times mating eventually landing up in other problems. Also, think if you are ready to manage multiple bunnies at the same time.

In terms of biology, generally, it is said that rabbits have an estrus cycle that lasts between 30-70 days, but the average cycle lasts 35 days. Rabbits are induced ovulators with pregnancy occurring after fertilization of the egg due to mating instead of being caused by the release of an egg cell. Unfortunately, the induction process results in early reproduction and inbreeding which can also affect the quality of health of the rabbit in the long run.

The rabbit’s gestation period ranges from 28 to 31 days. A doe can become pregnant again shortly after giving birth to kids.

Remember that the gestation period varies from one breed to another but the common tapeti breed consumes a maximum period of 45 days.

A rabbit will not come back into heat if it has been bred but failed to become pregnant, however, it might happen eventually on rare occasions. If a doe does not mate when in heat, the eggs are not released from her ovaries, causing them to degenerate and be reabsorbed by the body.

Do female rabbits bleed when in heat?

Bleeding in female rabbits is rare since does don’t menstruate. When there are drops of blood in urine, it can be an indicator of an injury or tumor.

do female rabbits bleed when in heat

While female rabbits display signs of fertility to their partners, they don’t bleed for the reason that they don’t menstruate like humans. As early as 6 months of age, female rabbits enter the first heat period.

As an owner of two or more rabbits, you may have to be careful during their heat periods since their behaviors and health conditions can significantly change. In the case of males, bleeding indicates the likelihood of genital cancer or an injury while in the case of females, the presence of blood, especially during the estrous cycle, is dangerous.

As the female rabbit advances to delivery, you can see blood but again, unlike humans.

How long does a rabbit stay in heat?

A rabbit has an indefinite estrus cycle where the receptivity can extend up to 12 days. Yet, your bunny will be fertile for over 8 days inviting the partner to mate.

The irregular estrous cycle does not affect the receptivity by any chance. Some does tend to stay in heat for longer times and this condition is unpredictable. As much as they are in heat, they remain receptive for at least 80% of the time.

From the technical perspective, the heat cycle never ends since they neither have menstruation nor menopause. Sterilizing can be a great way to protect your rabbit from ovulating each time and repeating cycles endlessly.

Signs that my rabbit is in heat

This is an important section that every bunny owner should read. A common question asked by bunny owners is – how do I know my rabbit is in heat and ready to breed? Is there a way to tell if a rabbit is ready to breed? Well, there are several signs for you to determine the heat period of your rabbit.

  • Accommodating – The sudden accommodating behavior of doe towards buck indicates the readiness to breed. At other times, this can be a defensive behavior.
  • Dark red vulva with swelling – In female rabbits, the vent area turns dark red and the swollen vulva is probably the primary sign to confirm readiness.
  • Restlessness – It is so common for a rabbit in her heat to stay cautious anytime thereby compromising food and sleep throughout the day. Sometimes, they can go dehydrated as well. Here’s an article – How to tell if a rabbit is dehydrated?
  • Rubbing – Rabbits commonly tend to circle your legs and rub or mount against you which imply the sign of heat. Certain rabbits also bite their owners at this stage displaying affection.
  • Aggression – Rabbits turn aggressive if they are separated from their partner or when the environment is uncomfortable.
  • Territorial marking – As they build a relationship with another rabbit, they begin marking their territory and safeguarding the partner. Males frequently urinate to ensure that the partner is well protected. Females get more protective and prefer staying within the territory.
  • Continuous energy – You can see your rabbit staying alert and full of energy all the time until the mate becomes successful. Some rabbits also tend to turn aggressive at this stage.
  • Mood changes – Frustration, affection, aggression, and belonging go hand in hand with the inability to predict either of them at a time.

What happens when rabbits are exposed to heat?

When rabbits are exposed to heat, they become overprotective and affectionate with endless energy. While there are no specific cycles, repeated mating can affect the health of the rabbit.

Some bunny owners have also asked me in the past – is it painful for a rabbit to be in heat?

Being in heat develops frustration and mixed emotions while pain is immeasurable since a rabbit always mates with a comfortable partner.

The repeated mood swings can make it difficult to maintain them since they compromise on their nutritional intakes and develop wild instincts that are unhealthy.

Can spaying a rabbit stop her from getting heat?

Spaying a female rabbit controls inducing sexual hormones and ends the heat period. Neutering a male rabbit puts an end to mood swings and leads a predictable life. Sterilizing adds up to better management of rabbits at home.

can spaying a rabbit stop her from getting heat

Oh, I can’t stop mentioning people saying that spaying a rabbit is a sin. But, the reality is different.

According to House Rabbit Society, bunny babies often don’t find homes and land up in shelters or become abused. Spaying or neutering your rabbit helps her/him in leading longer lives and getting rid of mammary or ovarian tumors.

Another research by Krempels on breeding mentions that sterilizing a rabbit is the only solution to address rabbit abuse, overpopulation, cancer, and the development of inbreeding centers.

In the last decade of raising rabbits, I have advised fellow bunny owners and followed sterilization for rabbits especially for the reason that they can live longer, better, and healthier. With inbreeding on rise, the life expectancy of rabbits is shortening and this can be addressed with sterilization in place.

Note. If you have multiple rabbits at home, spaying a rabbit excessively helps in managing them better and giving them richer lives.

Can a rabbit get pregnant without mating?

An intact (unneutered or unspayed) rabbit can mount over a spayed female resulting in pseudopregnancy which is unlikely.

Active mating is much needed for rabbits to get pregnant. It does not happen otherwise although there are assumptions on this topic.

Do rabbits get pregnant every time they mate?

Getting pregnant at each time of mating is common among healthy pairs while in general, 80% of success is anticipated as a result of mating.

A doe has the potential to reproduce 1-12 babies as a result of each pregnancy. After giving birth, the doe also gets ready for the next mating. A healthy uterus is common among does entering heat for the first time.

As years pass by, the success rate significantly lowers due to health complications and aging. This is the time when you should also recognize that your rabbit needs time and rest. It is advisable to sterilize at an early stage when they are healthy.

Here’s an article for you to know – When does a rabbit stop growing?

Final thoughts

Do rabbits need to be in pairs? As a rabbit owner, it is crucial to know how often do rabbits get into heat, signs, and the importance of spaying to enhance the lifestyle of your little one.

Of course, spaying or neutering is natural for them but from the futuristic perspective and your personal capacity, take up a decision.

Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran is crazy about animals and birds! An avid rescuer and rehabilitator of animals and birds, she uses PETSMOND to share her experiences in raising different creatures and paying attention to intricate aspects of their health. Know more about me - https://petsmond.com/about/

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