A pregnant rabbit will give birth to all her babies at once. However, rabbits have two uteruses, so a rabbit can give birth to one litter and then a few days or weeks later give birth to the younger litter.
Rabbits are fascinating creatures, and one of the things that make them so interesting is their reproductive cycle. Unlike many other animals, rabbits are “induced ovulators.” This means they don’t need to wait a full cycle to get pregnant.
What also makes their reproductive system so unique is the fact that rabbits have two uteruses. It’s important to keep this in mind as you continue to read this article. This simple fact is why it may appear that a rabbit will give birth over several days instead of all at once.
What You'll Learn
- 1 Rabbits Give Birth to All Babies At Once
- 2 Understanding The Gestation Timeline
- 3 Understanding Litter Size
- 4 Understanding The Birth Process
- 5 So Why Do Some Rabbits Give Birth Again a Few Days or Weeks Later?
Rabbits Give Birth to All Babies At Once
Let’s start by giving a direct answer to the question. Rabbits give birth to the whole litter at once. The babies will come out individually, but once the momma goes into labor, all the babies in that litter come out within 10-30 minutes.
What if your rabbit gave birth to her litter and then a few days later gave birth to more babies? How and why did that happen?
To properly answer this question, you’ll need to understand a rabbit’s gestation timeline, litter size, and birth process.
Understanding The Gestation Timeline
Starts With Ovulation
Rabbits are induced ovulators. This means rabbits ovulate when they mate. The act of mating causes a slight rise in the female’s body temperature. This rise in temperature signals to the hypothalamus that it’s time to release gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). GnRH then travels to the pituitary gland, where it stimulates the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These two hormones travel to the ovaries and cause the follicles to mature and ovulate. The entire process from mating to ovulation takes a max of 12 hours, often much quicker.
Gestation Lasts About 31 Days
A rabbit’s gestation period is about 31 days. This is relatively short when you compare it to other animals. For example, a human’s gestation period is about 9 months, and a dogs is about 63 days.
During the gestation period, the fertilized eggs move from the fallopian tubes into the uterus. The embryos will implant into the uterine wall and begin to grow.
Small Litter May Be Born Earlier, Large Litter May Be Born Later
If the litter is small, the babies may be born a few days early. If the litter is large, the babies may be born a few days late.
Understanding Litter Size
The average litter size for a rabbit is 4-12 kittens. The number of kittens in a litter is determined by the breed of rabbit, age, and the rabbit’s health.
Understanding The Birth Process
The entire birth process, from start to finish, usually takes less than 30 minutes. The first baby is usually born within 10 minutes, and the rest of the litter is born within the next 20 minutes.
So Why Do Some Rabbits Give Birth Again a Few Days or Weeks Later?
So now that you understand the gestation timeline, litter size, and birth process, we can finally answer the main question.
It’s because rabbits have two uteruses. Two uteruses mean that a pregnant rabbit can get pregnant again before she gives birth to her first litter.
It’s not uncommon for a rabbit to give birth to her first litter and then a few days or weeks later give birth to her second litter.
Remember, rabbits are induced ovulators. If a pregnant rabbit mates with a male, she may still ovulate, leading to a double pregnancy.
So although rabbits do give birth to the whole litter at once (within 30 minutes), it’s possible for a rabbit to give birth again to an entirely new litter a few days or weeks later.