Rabbits are very common household pets, but how can you tell if you have a male rabbit or a female rabbit? Not knowing the sex of your rabbits can lead to a surprise litter of baby bunnies.
Male rabbits do not have teats and female rabbits do. If you cannot determine the sex of your rabbit on your own, go to your local veterinarian and have them check the sex of your rabbit.
Determining the Sex of Your Rabbit
A male rabbit, otherwise known as a buck, will have testicles. However, they can withdraw their testicles into their abdomen, especially when they are younger. If you cannot find the testes, your rabbit may still be male and not female. If you find teats on your rabbit, then your rabbit is female since male rabbits do not have teats.
A female rabbit, otherwise known as a doe, will have teats/nipples. However, their teats may be hard to find if your rabbit is not or has never been pregnant. It will also be hard to tell the gender of your rabbit if your rabbit is very young.
To determine the sex of your rabbit, lay them in your lap and put them on their back with their legs away from you. Laying them on their back puts them in a sort of trance-like state, but they should not be held like this for a long period of time. They can still feel pain while being held like this, so be especially gentle.
WARNING: This is the only circumstance where you should put your rabbit in this compromised position. There is a chance you will get scratched if you try to determine your rabbit’s sex with this method. Holding your rabbit on his back makes him feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. For tips on how to properly hold your rabbit, under normal circumstances, check out my article Can You Carry Your Rabbit Like a Baby? here.
If you can, find another person to help you hold your rabbit and have them keep their head still. This will prevent your rabbit from biting you or falling off of your lap and hurting themselves. Next, gently push aside the fur and look for nipples or testes. If you are not able to find anything definitive, your rabbit may still be too young to tell. It is easier to tell the gender of your rabbit after they are about 10 weeks old.
If you do not feel comfortable doing this, do not force yourself to do it. Instead, take your rabbit to your local veterinarian, shelter, or pet store. They should be trained on how to find out the sex of your rabbit.
Are There Noticeable Physical Differences Between a Buck and a Doe?
There are not very many noticeable physical differences between bucks and does while they are young, other than the genital differences. However, as rabbits get older, there are a few physical differences between a male and a female rabbit that will become more apparent.
Male rabbits will have blockier heads than their female counterparts. They will also be smaller than female rabbits that are the same breed as them. So if you feel like you have a very small rabbit, but they are eating regularly and are healthy, then your rabbit is most likely male.
Should I Keep a Buck and a Doe Rabbit Together?
Male and female rabbits often get along and become part of a bonded pair. Rabbits that are of the same sex can also be a part of a bonded pair. If they do become bonded, do not separate them for more than 24 hours.
If your rabbits are showing aggression towards each other, remove them from the same cage immediately. After you separate them, call your veterinarian for advice.
There are ways to help them get along, but it may not be possible and you may have to keep them separated. If you do have to keep them separated, it may be in your best interests to rehome one of your rabbits. See the list of Five Reasons Pet Rabbits Fight and How to Stop Them, which will be helpful if you are battling with aggression in your rabbits.
If you do not want your doe to become pregnant, and you have a male and female rabbit in the same cage, neuter your male rabbit. It is also a good idea to spay your female rabbit, as she will feel breeding hormones and try to mount the male rabbit.
If you are worried about having two rabbits in the same household, don’t be. Rabbits are naturally very social creatures and often enjoy having a close companion to become friends with. They play with each other frequently and love to groom and cuddle with one another.
Unexpected Rabbit Pregnancy
If your rabbit is pregnant and you thought that you had two female rabbits, then surprise! One of your rabbits is male. If you do not want more baby bunnies in the future, get your male rabbit neutered before the doe gives birth. The doe can get pregnant on the same day that she gives birth, and that can become very dangerous for her.
If your rabbit does become pregnant, contact your local veterinarian for advice on how to change her diet and what labor symptoms to look out for as she progresses, like digging. You may be wondering if pregnant rabbits are aggressive. This link is to an article I wrote after experiencing their need for a safe space while pregnant. It is best to leave your rabbit be as she gives birth unless there are any particular complications that you are worried about.
And don’t worry, you will not have to take care of baby bunnies for very long. Baby rabbits can leave their mother at 4 to 6 weeks old. If you do have baby rabbits, make sure that the male rabbit is separated from them. He will try to breed with the baby females after they reach maturity.
If you want to know the gender of your baby rabbits immediately after they are born, contact your local veterinarian and see what they have to say about how to find the gender of your baby rabbits. Do not remove them from the nest box for very long, because their scent may change. If this happens, the mother rabbit may stop taking care of them and can become aggressive towards the baby.
If your rabbit is showing signs of pregnancy and you are sure that she has not been in any close contact with any male rabbits, then your rabbit may be experiencing a false pregnancy. Contact your local veterinarian for advice on how to help her through this time. If you show her some extra love and attention, that may help.
- Will a Rabbit’s Personality Change After Neutering? – If you are considering neutering your pet rabbit, this is a must-read! It will give you some great information on what to expect with the rabbit’s character after the rabbit’s procedure.
- Owner’s Guide: Are Rabbit’s Hard to Care For? – This article will give you an inside look on what rabbit’s needs are – environmentally, socially, and mentally.
- Do Baby Rabbits REALLY Need a Heat Lamp? – You’ve just found out your female rabbit is pregnant and now you need to know how to propperly care for the new bundles of joy you’re about to have in the house! This article will teach you what the best method is for keeping the little one’s warm.