Rabbit Focus

Do Rabbits Water Break Before Giving Birth?

If you are a proud rabbit owner, you surely know how important it is for your pets and their overall health to closely monitor the pregnancy of a doe and get ready for the arrival of her young. Being familiar with the signs of labor in rabbits and preparing for any emergency can help ensure the success and safety of the birthing process.

Do Rabbits Water Break Before Giving Birth?

That said, do rabbits water break before giving birth?

Yes, a rabbit’s water also breaks before it gives birth, but it almost always goes unnoticed because these animals will only deliver their babies in privacy.

Continue reading below to learn more about rabbit pregnancy and labor:

The Breeding Stage

You must actively participate in the breeding of your rabbit to help you calculate a birth date. Female rabbits of smaller breeds are ready to reproduce at the age of 5 months. Medium-sized does must be 6 months old for them to start breeding for the first time. Meanwhile, large breed female rabbits will only be ready for breeding at 8 months.

A female rabbit doesn’t go into heat, but she releases eggs in a matter of 13 hours following the mating process. To determine pregnancy, you need to palpate the abdomen of the doe approximately 12 days after the mating.

If the doe is already pregnant, the fetuses will feel like small grapes beneath the skin. The gestation period of rabbits can range from 28 to 32 days, with the larger breeds having longer gestations than the smaller ones.

Preparing for Labor

Around week 2 of the doe’s pregnancy, she will start acting uncomfortable. The pregnant rabbit will spend more time resting and laying down. Her weight will also increase by this time. When the fourth week arrives, you then need to prepare for the arrival of the baby rabbits or called kits.

You should place a nest box that has a cushioning material such as absorbent cloth or hay inside the doe’s cage on the 27th day of pregnancy. A few hours or days before birthing or know as kindling, most female rabbits will begin removing fur from their bellies and backs. This behavior is normal, and she will use the fur to line the nest box to ensure that the kits stay warm because they are hairless when they are born.

Some mother rabbits don’t pull their fur, though, while others might do it during their pregnancy.

The Labor Phase

The doe will initially not spend a lot of time inside the nest box. She will just spend about 5 to 30 minutes inside the box facing the back of the container even if she is already in labor. This is the time when it best to leave the doe alone.

A rabbit that is normally sweet natured might become grumpy during labor and will refuse any interaction with people. Since female rabbits give birth either during the day or night, you need to regularly check on them on the fourth week. Whenever she goes in and out of the nest box, always check for kits that might have been hidden in the hay or the nesting material you provided.

Signs of Labor in Pregnant Rabbit

The most telltale sign that a rabbit is already going into labor is when she builds a nest and uses her own fur to do it. It usually happens a day or two before birth.

If the breeding wasn’t accidental, you should have a good estimate of when your doe is due. The typical gestation of rabbits is usually 31 days although there are some instances when rabbits don’t give birth until the 33rd day.

On the 28th and 29th day after breed, fill the nesting box of your doe with straw. She may or may not jump inside the box and either way, it is perfectly fine.

At 48 hours before the delivery, you will start noticing something with experience and time. It will seem as if the belly of the doe has dropped. This is the same as the muscles of using turning loose. It is how the body of the rabbit prepares for delivery.

It will seem like there is a space between the lower back and the belly of the rabbit that you can almost notice a separation.

At 24 hours before the delivery, the pregnant rabbit will start eating a lot and seem to stop eating. You might notice that her bowl still got half of the remaining food from the other day.

At 12 to 24 hours before the delivery, some pregnant rabbits will begin to build a nest and pull some of their fur in advance and place it inside the nest to help the babies stay warm. At times, it will only be several sprigs and quite a lot more at other times.

When the pregnant rabbit is up and about and looks stressed, usually pulling lots of fur and rustling inside the box, it only means that the babies will come anytime soon. However, don’t be shocked if the babies don’t come after a few hours. Sometimes, it may take several hours while other times, it might be one kit right after another.

A good pro tip here is that if the pregnant rabbit hasn’t pull lots of fur, but the babies already arrived, you might want to try pulling some fur from her underbelly to trigger further pulling. Don’t forget that baby rabbits don’t do well if they don’t stay warm with the help of their mother’s fur.

What Time of the Day Do Rabbits Give Birth?

Parturition refers to the physical act of giving birth and for most rabbits, it often happens during the day and lasts less than half an hour. After giving birth to the entire litter, the doe will pull more of her body’s fur to cover her young in the nest.

How Long Does It Take for Rabbits to Give Birth?

It can take just several hours to as long as one day for rabbits to give birth, which starts from the initial signs of labor pain to the actual delivery of all the babies. The last thing you want so for your rabbit to be in labor for over 24 hours because it might lead to some baby rabbits being born dead.

And with that, we officially end this blog post. But before you go, can you do us a solid and spread the love (or laughter) by sharing this on your social media? Who knows, maybe we might even find someone who can relate to our content and benefit from it... Wink