How To Tell If Your Rabbit Is In Labor?

Categorized as Bunny Care Tagged

Last Updated on March 29, 2022 by Rei Garnet

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 find 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 detail 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 will pull their fur whenever they make their nest. This is because newborn rabbits don’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 give birth, you 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 from 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 happen 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 their kits.

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

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

Blood

You will also notice some blood during labor. This is normal; just remove the bloody bedding after they give 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 had already given birth; I just saw the kits were already there.

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

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

Can you touch the kits to check them?

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 have 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 will 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 had already given 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 (May 2, 2022) 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 - May 2, 2022, https://bunnyhorde.com/how-to-tell-if-your-rabbit-is-in-labor/
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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.

By Rei Garnet

I’ve loved and cared for rabbits since I was 9 years old, and I’m here to share my passion for rabbits. My objective is to help rabbit owners give their rabbits the best life possible.