I'm New to this Whole Bunny Thing!

by BunnyBear
(Fairbanks Alaska USA)

Lily and Bunny (Pic added to post by Raising-Rabbits)

Lily and Bunny (Pic added to post by Raising-Rabbits)

I was given a small bunny; not sure how old she is. She’s pretty small but getting bigger every day. I've had her over a month though and she’s doing very well. I was also given another rabbit about 2 weeks ago and was told that one was a girl as well, but I named it Peter anyways.

I have a male cat and he and Peter have really been picking on each other a lot. I started thinking I didn't go wrong by naming the second rabbit Peter, so last night around 2 am I saw Peter trying to do the deed with Nibbles the female. How do I know if he got her or not? And how do I know if she’s old enough to even have babies?

And should I not keep them together? Plz let me know cuz this is all new to me! Thank you.

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

Hey BunnyBear,
You're not alone - a LOT of other folks are also new to caring for rabbits and have many questions. So thanks for writing.

I made a list of all the questions I sensed in your post, whether asked outright or not, and I'll try to answer these. I will also leave some links below so you will have some resources that you can pursue should you wish to do so.
  • How old is the female bunny; and is it even a female?
    I can’t tell you how old Nibbles is, as I’m assuming you have no idea of her parentage. She could have a 2-pound Netherland Dwarf in her background, or on the other hand, she might be related to a 22-pound Flemish Giant. Secondly, if you don’t know if Peter is male or female, how is it that you are confident in the gender of Nibbles?

  • The second bunny, Peter, is it male or female?
    You named it Peter without knowing the gender, which is kind of funny! This page - Sexing Rabbits - will show you exactly how to verify without a doubt the genders of both Nibbles and Peter. And you need to know for sure, because it will affect your course of action for both rabbits going forward.

  • Peter and the cat are testy together – does this mean Peter is actually a boy?
    I’m not certain the exact reasons why Peter and the cat pick on each other. (I’m assuming that Nibbles and the cat do fine together?) You might be right that Peter is a boy, but you need to check and be sure. On the other hand, it could be nothing but pure personality. It could also be that Peter is a girl who wants to breed, and doesn’t want the cat to be anywhere near her nest. You did not mention Peter’s age; perhaps s/he is old enough to be bred?

  • Peter is humping Nibbles – “trying to do the deed.”
    Do you know what humping can actually mean? You’re assuming that humping means mating. But, it could also easily mean that Peter, whether male or female, is just trying to assert dominance over Nibbles.

  • How to know if Peter “got” her or not?
    The best way to know is to flip Nibbles over moments after humping and look for glossy moisture around the vent. Another possible indication is if the male grunts and fell off the back of the female. This is a good sign but not a guarantee. If you miss either of these signs, the only other option is to wait out the 31 day gestation period, give the female a nest box on day 28, and see what happens. (Then again, if you determine that both bunnies are girls, all your fears go away....)

  • Is Nibbles even old enough to have babies?
    Again, this isn’t a question I can answer right now, but just know that they can procreate a lot younger than you’d think. I’ve seen 4-month-old does kindling litters, which means they conceived at around 12-14 weeks of age. And just to erase any confusion, sibling rabbits CAN make babies.

  • Should the two bunnies be housed together or not, at this point?
    This is where knowing the bunnies’ genders becomes very important. Two does can usually live together (depending on personality – an individual thing). Two boys will NEVER cohabitate without one killing the other, unless one of them is excessively submissive. And an intact mixed pair should only cohabitate if you want LOTS of babies ALL the time.

Your last comment was: "This is all new to me.”

True! Sometimes it feels like there is sooooo much to learn about raising rabbits. Thank God for resources like Raising-Rabbits, which is chock full of absolutely free information. I think that simply reading the site and following the links from page to page to find the info you need at the moment can almost turn anyone into a rabbit expert.

But we also have resources that will make life so much easier for anyone who needs info about raising rabbits. Check World of Raising Rabbits for the full list of the electronic and paperback info we offer to our readers.

The following two items I specifically recommend for you:
Rabbit Reproduction E-Book
Rabbit Raising Problem Solver

Best of luck to you, and enjoy your rabbits!

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