How Do I Know My Rabbit Is in Heat & Ready to Breed?

By Jillian O'Keeffe

The prolific breeding patterns of rabbits stem from the doe's almost continuous receptiveness to an attractive buck. On a 16-day cycle, the doe is fertile for 14 days, so the likelihood of baby rabbits, or kits, is high if the doe interacts well with the buck. A typical rabbit pregnancy lasts 31 to 33 days and a doe can produce up to 15 kits. The kits only feed once or twice a day and begin eating solid food at four to five weeks old. A single doe and buck can populate a garden very quickly with cute but rapidly growing kits. Know the signs for when your doe is in heat.

Determine the age of the rabbit and its breed. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the sexual maturity of rabbits depends on the size of their breed. Small rabbits, such as the Polish Dwarf, mature at three-and-a-half months to four months old. Medium rabbits take four-and-a-half months to mature, and giant breeds mature at six to nine months of age. Younger rabbits are not suitable for breeding.

Pick up the doe with one hand on its scruff and the other hand holding up its bottom.

Look at its genitals, specifically the vaginal opening. The color of the opening varies with the rabbit's cycle. If the vagina is a pale, white-pink color, then the buck will have to wait for another day. If the vaginal orifice is a redder color, then the doe is receptive to mating. At the reddest point, the doe is most receptive to the buck.

Inspect the vaginal opening for signs of moisture. A dry opening with little or no moisture is a sign that the doe will not be interested in breeding. This usually happens at the same time as the lighter coloring of the vagina. A moist vagina, on the other hand, indicates fertility and receptiveness.

Place the doe in an enclosure with the buck, and watch to see if the doe accepts the buck's advances.