How To Tell If Your Rabbit Is In Labor?

Categorized as Bunny Care Tagged
An x-ray result of a pregnant rabbit showing how many babies it will have.

Last Updated on August 2, 2021 by Rei

You can tell that your rabbit is in labor by looking at the signs like missing fur, mood changes, loss of appetite, digging, and if you found blood.

Rabbits are usually only in labor for a few minutes, that’s why you should check the nest frequently on the day your rabbit is supposed to give birth.

Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain to you in more details how to tell if your rabbit is in labor:

Signs that a rabbit is in labor

A veterinarian checking a rabbit if it's pregnant or healthy.

Rabbits in labor would show these signs:

Missing fur

Pregnant rabbits would pull their fur whenever they make their nest. This is because newborn rabbits doesn’t have any fur making them susceptible to hypothermia.

Your rabbit would pull their fur usually from their legs and stomach to use as insulation for the nest. It’s normal for pregnant rabbits to pull their fur a few hours before giving birth. But most would do it a few days before giving birth or throughout their pregnancy.

A rabbit in its nest box pulling her hair to build a nest for her kits.

Whatever the case for you, just make sure that AFTER your rabbits gave birth, you should see the fur they pull around their babies. If your rabbits haven’t done this(some rabbits would not pull their fur), you have to do it for them.

You can pull some hair on your rabbit’s stomach and back and put it around the baby rabbits.

Mood changes

A rabbit angry due to hormonal related aggression because she is pregnant.

Mood changes also happens a lot when a pregnant rabbit is in or close to labor. This is due to their hormones kicking in. Your rabbit might become aggressive when touched or when you’re close to her territory.

Loss of appetite

A few days before giving birth, usually 24 to 48 hours, your pregnant rabbit would stop eating. This is normal. Don’t try to disturb her during this time, it’s all instinct at this point.

Digging

A rabbit digging a burrow because she is preparing to build her nest.

Your pregnant rabbit will also show some nesting behavior a few days or weeks before giving birth. In the wild, female rabbits who are pregnant would dig burrows to prepare a nest for her kits.

This same behavior can be seen in pet rabbits. Your rabbit might start digging thru their bedding, litter box, or the corner of her cage.

You need to provide nesting materials and a nest box if you start noticing this behavior. Actually, you should start way before they do this behavior.

Blood

You would also notice some blood during labor. This is normal, just remove the bloody bedding after they gave birth to keep everything clean and sanitary.

How long is a rabbit in labor?

Rabbit’s labor is very fast. In my experience, it only lasts for a couple of minutes at most. I didn’t even notice that my rabbit already gave birth, I just saw the kits already there.

The main clue that a rabbit has already given birth is when they leave the nest. Rabbits in the wild will also do this behavior to not attract predators in the nest and to look for food.

Don’t worry if your rabbit is not nursing/feeding her babies. Usually, rabbits would not feed their babies for the first 24 hours.

Can you touch the kits to check it?

A man holding newborn rabbits to check if their mother is feeding the kits.

Yes, you can touch and check the babies if it’s your rabbit. Pet rabbits who already bonded with their owners are allowed to touch their babies because they’re already accustomed to their owner’s smell.

This is also a great time to check if the babies are being fed. Rabbits that are fed or full would have round tummies. While unfed baby rabbits would have wrinkly skin.

Summary

You can tell that your rabbit is in labor when they start to pull their fur to make their nest, when you notice that they are moody or territorial, loss of appetite, digging, and if you find blood in their bedding.

Rabbit’s labor would only last for a few minutes at most. That’s why most owners would only be aware that their rabbit already gave birth when they saw the kits.

It’s why you should always check the nest the day your rabbit is supposed to give birth to make sure that the kits and nest are fine.

Don’t worry if the rabbit is not feeding her babies. Rabbits would usually feed their babies 24 hours after giving birth.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (November 18, 2021) How To Tell If Your Rabbit Is In Labor?. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/how-to-tell-if-your-rabbit-is-in-labor/.
"How To Tell If Your Rabbit Is In Labor?." Bunny Horde - November 18, 2021, https://bunnyhorde.com/how-to-tell-if-your-rabbit-is-in-labor/

Sources and further reading

  • Patry, Karen, et al. The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about Housing, Feeding, Behavior, Health Care, Breeding, and Kindling. Storey Publishing, 2014.