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aggressive pregnant doe

22 10:18:21

QUESTION: Our doe has always been loving.  She is now pregnant and we had to separate her from daddy because she was barking and lunging at him.  Today this same behavior has spread to us.  Is this normal?  Should I be concerned because she sits in her cage all day while he enjoys freedom and companionship with us.  Will she get back to her old self after the babies come.  What should we do?  Thank You for a response.  Melanie

ANSWER: Okay more than likely the reason for the aggression is because she is pregnant and the father was in the same enclosure as she was.  Rabbits are very territorial creatures especially does while pregnant.  Having the male rabbit there just intensified her reaction and became a source of stress for your rabbit.  

That is why you will see that breeders generally follow the rule of "1 rabbit 1 cage".   And when it is time to breed they only put the male in with the female for only a short amount of time.

She will actually probably prefer being in her cage and left alone both by humans and other rabbits while pregnant.  It is a hormonal thing with rabbits and I assume should calm her down having him out of her "area".

I also strongly suggest neutering the male before putting them back together, rabbits do not follow a heat cycle so as soon as you put him back in with her after she has had her kits, she will be bred again.  Litter after litter on a female rabbit is stressful and can cause health issues.

I also suggest you check out a couple of websites on rabbit breeding so that you will know when to provide her with a nestbox, how to handle the kits etc.

And if  you have any other questions feel free to ask, and I will try to do my best to help you.

Good Luck

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Mommy and Daddy before we knew
Mommy and Daddy before  
QUESTION: Amy, Thank you for your prompt response.  We are new at this and came by it accidentally after adopting siblings scheduled to be put down.  I trusted that the owners were honest about the sex and was informed otherwise at the first vet visit.  The site you referred to us is wonderful.  Will the two ever be able to be together in the same cage again?  We know they will be fixed ASAP.  Also, we did not know "he" was pregnant and fear the stress we put on "him" was too much, litter box training, stair training, meeting the dog, new and more healthy diet.  Would she continue her pregnant behavior if things were not OK?  She seems to have adapted well.  See mommy and daddy below.  Thank You Melanie

ANSWER: If they are siblings and have grown up together, and especially since they are an opposite sex pair, I would say that your chances of bonding them again after being fixed, is going to be good.  What I suggest doing is getting the male fixed as soon as you can, as it takes about 4-6 wks for him to be "safe" to put back in with the female.  You must wait on the female until her kits have been weaned and she is dried up ( and a recovery time of coarse) before having her spayed and put in with him.

You will be surprised at how resilient and adaptable rabbits are.  I had a doe knock her cage off the stand it was on ( i use stackable cages and this one had a default apparently) fall about 4ft to the ground, spend all night on the floor of our garage, only to deliver 6 healthy babies a week and a half later, on time with no complications, and it was her first litter to.

SO the safest thing to assume is that even with training and stress that she is still pregnant and treat her as such for at least the next 35 days, because she was in the pen with "his" brother (which mis-sexing rabbits is very common and I would like to think the previous owners where being truthful to what they were told)the female rabbit could have been bred at anytime and so keeping a careful eye on her and making sure she has the appropriate set up is important.

I think your doing the right thing and that both rabbits will now be able to live a healthy happy life with someone who cares

Good Luck
And keep me updated on if she has kits


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Amy, have you ever felt a baby move during palpation?  Also no pulling of fur yet but I feel that I should put her nesting box into her cage now so that she can get use to it and get it ready.  We are at the 25 day of gestation give or take a few.  Thanks Melanie

Yes actually I have, I have also been able to see them move in the stomach generally after about 3wks along.  

Don't worry right now about pulling of fur, Most of my does doe not pull fur until 12-24 hours before birth, and go ahead and put in the nest box, BUT be sure you keep an eye on her and make sure she is not using the box as a litter pan, even if you take the nest she makes out every day to clean the box, she will still nest right before birth (this is actually when actually productive nesting happens) and it is more important that she have a clean and germ free (as much as possible) nesting area, than a perfect, 4 day old nest.

Oh, and just in case you did not know, (if you did sorry for the repeating of info) Handle the kits from about 24 hours old, everyday, for very short periods of time, a couple times a day if possible. This does a few things, it makes the babies much more friendly and easier going rabbits, it allows you to check on the babies and remove any that have died (if left in the box this can cause severe complications for both mother and kits) and it also gives you a chance to really see all the changes the babies are going through, get to know them, and know if something is wrong with them quicker.

Contrary to popular belief domesticated mother rabbits will not abandon kits because a human has touched them (they do abandon babies don't get me wrong, but it not due to who has handled them) Especially if that human has been the one feeding and otherwise taking care of the mother rabbit, it does generally cause a bit more grooming to go on lol, but this is not a harmful thing so no worries.

Good Luck, and early congrats on the babies