Are pregnant rabbits aggressive?

by Lillian
(Mhluzi, South Africa)

I want to know if rabbits get aggressive and look huge when they are pregnant.

***Karen Sez***
Thanks for asking -- Whether or not a pregnant doe looks huge may depend on how many kits are in her belly. As a general rule, they start looking huge only during the last few days of the pregnancy.

(If your doe is too huge *and* very aggressive, there may be a medical problem - she could be in pain, or have a problem with the pregnancy or kits. Hard for me to say from this far away. Or, it could be nothing....)

In our experience, pregnant rabbits are not necessarily *aggressive*; they are more often simply cranky, unhappy with your presence. What this looks like is a doe that hops away from you or to the back of the cage and crouches there warily. Should you open the cage, she might growl a warning.

Of course, some does *DO* take it to aggression. If you should reach into the cage, they might growl louder, or lunge at your hand. If you don't pull back, you risk getting bit.

I don't have a problem with this behavior in a pregnant doe. In any other situation, aggression will land a rabbit in the stew pot in my barn. If this doe is normally mild-mannered, then you know it is just maternal hormones driving her behavior.

You can protect yourself. When you open the door to the cage, reach in high above the rabbit's head like a hawk, and swoop in on her head and neck, pinning her firmly to the floor. Then you can tell her in a firm voice (she may understand the tone, even if not the words) that you're in charge and she has to behave herself.

We've found that a) this corrects the aggression in some does, and b) there are a few does that don't get it, and you *always* have to reach in from a high point, until the doe has had her litter and her hormones have calmed down.

The doe will chill out and be nice again, we think! In our barn, if she remained aggressive after weaning the litter, she would get culled. But, I don't remember ever having to cull a doe for continuing aggression.

Hope this helps, and good luck with your rabbits.
God bless you,

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