Mating Siblings

by Zee

It may be a dumb question, but, can you mate siblings with each other?

*Moderator's Response:*
No, this is definitely not a dumb question, as the rabbit community has no consistent answer for it.

We think *Yes* ... maybe! Here's the genetics of our opinion, and see our Rabbit Genetics page for a refresher on the basics, if needed:

For every trait, the rabbit inherits two copies of a gene. These traits can be dominant or recessive. If the dominant gene copy is a healthy normal gene, but the recessive copy is flawed or damaged, you have no way of knowing about the presence of the flawed gene, because the normal dominant gene will completely override the flaw, and keep the animal healthy.

The more related the animal, the greater the chance that two flawed genes for a trait, already present recessively in both siblings, will match up and be unable to prevent an outwardly flawed or damaged offspring. A pairing of recessives is what causes albinism and various other recessive traits like color and size. No problem there. But it's very bad if that flaw is structural or metabolic, like buck teeth, a propensity to cancer or cataracts, or polycystic kidneys.

The inbreeding itself doesn't 'cause' these problems -- it is the pairing of already pre-existing genetic flaws that creates the problems, and inbreeding is the fastest way to reveal IF there are flaws hiding in the genetic code.

So... If you breed siblings together that are excellent genetically, you'll be pleased with the results. If you get 'freaks of nature,' well, now you know that you better not match that set of siblings again. :-)

--Breeding siblings results in offspring that carry 50% of the genetic material of each of the original parents.
--Breeding offspring with a parent results in a 75% - 25% split in genetic material of the original parents, and is a much closer pairing.

That was probably way more than you hoped to hear, but we at least hope it helps.

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Jan 07, 2017
Breeding Rabbits
by: Anonymous

I am wanting to start breeding rabbits. I am looking at rabbits that are around 10 weeks old. Do you recommend separating them in different cages from the very beginning until the doe is 6 months old? I don't want to put them together if the buck will try and mate with the doe before that 6 month mark? Naturally will they try and mate earlier than that?

***** Karen Sez *****
Yes, bucks and does will naturally mate with each other at the earliest possible moment. This is why caging them separately after 10-11 weeks is smart.

For the record, separate cages doesn't emotionally cripple a rabbit.

Nov 15, 2016
Consequences of rabbits mating too young?
by: Anonymous

I have recently gotten two mini satin bunnies. They are siblings and are both 7 weeks. I do not have the heart to separate them when they are 12 weeks. Will the doe be ok if she mates too early? Will she die because she is too young?

***** Karen Sez *****
Well, on the one hand, wild rabbits don't cage themselves in the wild when they reach a particular age. (But a community of wild rabbits does have checks and balances that prevent tight inbreeding, and the predators take care of the stupid rabbits.)

On the other hand, and I know you love them dearly and you want them to live happily ever after, why don't you have the heart to separate them? These are SIBLINGS. Willy nilly sibling breedings are not good for the offspring. I wonder if you are not familiar with rabbit reality? Have you been listening to the House Rabbit Society schpiel that rabbits can’t possibly live happy lives apart from one another? We all need a reality check on the HRS.

If you don't have the heart to separate them, why did you purchase them? Do you have the heart to neuter the male? (No, not you, the vet.)

Finally, to answer your question: Early mating is not typically fatal, but an immature mini-satin trying to birth a litter of dwarf-gene-influenced, large-headed kits might run into trouble if her birth canal is still undersized. If there are 6 in the litter, the kits will be more likely smaller and able to birth successfully. But if she has only one or two, the chance is greater that the kits could grow too large in the womb, and the first kit could get stuck.

Having said that, each rabbit, each litter, and each pregnancy is unique, and these words should not be taken as a dire prophesy. They do describe a possibility, but the chance of dangerous events actually happening in the case of your rabbits is unknown.

Mar 06, 2016
by: Megan

I have siblings that recently mated by accident since I let them free in the yard. They are 6 months old each and I was wondering if the kits will be fine and the other can safely kindle since the parents are siblings!!πŸ˜‚πŸ˜πŸ°πŸ°πŸ’–πŸ’–

***** Karen Sez *****
If you've seen other posts on this topic on this website, you will have seen that mating siblings is not by itself a problem. Sibling matings however can easily reveal IF there are underlying genetic problems with these rabbits by uncovering negative recessive traits.

Time will tell! Feel free to check back in and let us know how it goes, and thanks. :-)

After this litter, you'd be super-wise to figure out how NOT to keep breeding siblings to siblings. Once might be fine, but the following doubly-inbred generation may create a disaster. It just depends on the underlying genetics (and the wisdom of the rabbit owner).

Feb 20, 2016
Same age
by: Katie

I have two 6 month only rabbits and they mated earlier I was wondering if since the rabbits are the same age would it still be ok for the mother rabbit easily to kindle because in another article I read if the father is bigger than the mother the mother would have trouble kindling. Is this true for the same size rabbits as well?πŸ°πŸ’–πŸ™ƒ

***** Karen Sez *****

6 months old is very likely adult age for your rabbits (as long as yours aren't a giant breed). Adult rabbits of the same size breed and kindle successfully every day. :-)

Feb 18, 2016
Same age rabbits
by: Nikki

Hi, my bunnies are the same age, 4 months. I was wondering that they are allowed to be the same age when breeding or will that cause the mother trouble kindling? Thanks for your help. BTW: this article was very helpful. You did a nice job!!!πŸ˜ŠπŸ°πŸ’–

***** Karen Sez *****
4 months old is really young for intentional breeding. (And I'm assuming these are small breed rabbits?) How about waiting until they are at least 5 or 6 months old? This will be better because it gives the doe a chance to get some adult wits about her, reducing the chance she'll be an airhead during kindling and forget to mother the kits. Good luck and enjoy your rabbits!

Nov 25, 2012
Dwarf rabbits mating
by: Anonymous

We have 2 dwarf rabbits male and female 18 months old. They had been together in the same cage since they were approximately 2 months old. For the last six months the male rabbit was trying to mate her but she's not letting him. Any advice on what we can do?
Thank you.

Oct 23, 2011
by: Anonymous

If a sibling male and female were caged together would they mate or should we keep males and females separated?

****Karen Sez****
Siblings WILL mate. You have until they're roughly 12 weeks old max, and then you'd best find separate housing for females and males. Additionally, as males mature, they tend to start fighting as they would in the wild - the dominance thing. So males should get their own cages.

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