How do I stop my female rabbit from mounting?
Rabbits are social creatures that enjoy interacting with others. Of course, there are always exceptions, and your rabbit may prefer to keep you all to herself. To find out which type of rabbit you have, you can set up a “bunny date” with another rabbit to find a suitable prospect for your rabbit’s new partner. Behavior you don’t want to see includes fighting, charging, grunting and other acts of aggression. Some good signs that the date is going well are grooming, laying with each other, or successful mounting. If any of these occur, you may have found your rabbit’s match.
Incorporating a partner for your rabbit into your home can be challenging. Rabbits can be aggressive, and fighting is not uncommon in the beginning. It is rare that it will be love at first sight. For first-time owners, it may be hard to take on faith that it can work out, but patience and persistence are key in bonding your rabbits and will almost always pay off.
For a smoother transition, employ the following suggestions:
- Rabbits who are spayed/neutered are typically less aggressive and will usually make better candidates for bonding. It’s easiest to bond a male and female rabbit, and ensuring that they are fixed is obviously necessary. The next easiest pair to bond is female-female. Bonding two males isn’t impossible, but from anecdotal experience, it can be the hardest pairing, since each will attempt to dominate the other.
- The rabbits should not be placed together initially. They need time to be introduced to each other slowly, which is best done with supervision.
- Place the rabbits’ cages next to each other (with a bit of space between to avoid fighting) so they get used to being near each other without being forced to share a space. If you see them laying next to each other or attempting to groom each other through the wires, they are ready to spend some time together.
- To get them used to the others’ scent, switch their litter boxes, towels, food dishes, and toys periodically.
- For their first face-to-face meeting, put them in a neutral location – a place where neither rabbit feels that it’s his or her territory and a place where neither bunny can be cornered. Make it a small space, so the rabbits will have to be close together. Places like the kitchen floor, bathroom, hallway, or empty bathtub might work because the slick surface can help prevent them from chasing each other.
- Bonding sessions should happen frequently, for up to 15 minute intervals and increasing as the rabbits become more familiar with each other.
- Expect the rabbits to fight, especially in order to show one’s dominance over the other. Fights can be frightening, and the rabbits can cause each other serious damage. While fighting is normal, don’t let it continue for very long, and stop it immediately if one rabbit has been injured. I used a spray bottle to break up fights between my two female rabbits, aiming for their sides or butts to avoid getting water up their noses. Sometimes making a loud clapping or thumping noise can momentarily distract them. It’s important that they don’t hurt each other, but it’s also important that you don’t get hurt either, so make sure you protect yourself when breaking up a fight (wear long sleeves, maybe gloves).
- Mounting is not considered fighting . It’s actually what you want to see happen. Fights can break out when one refuses to let the other mount him/her. Note that it can be females or males attempting to mount the other to show dominance.
- They might temporarily forsake their good litter box habits in the excitement. They’ll settle back to using the boxes successfully, but this can be a discouraging turn of events if you aren’t expecting it.
Once you are convinced they are comfortable with each other, you can try to move them to a cohabitation situation, though expect some territorial feelings to arise once again. Placing food or water dishes side-by-side or feeding them greens together can ease this.
How do I stop my female rabbit from mounting?
Pseudopregnancy: hay gathering and fur plucking behavior
Esther van Praag, Ph.D.
MediRabbit.com is funded solely by the generosity of donors.
Every donation, no matter what the size, is appreciated and will aid in the continuing research of medical care and health of rabbits.
Warning : this file contains pictures that may be distressing for people.
Once a female rabbit reaches sexual maturity, she may go through periodic false pregnancies. False pregnancies can be triggered by the mounting behavior by a castrated male or another female rabbit in an attempt to establish dominance, the presence of a castrated or intact male in the same living environment. It is, however, also observed in female rabbits that have no contact with other rabbits.
A young female rabbit mounting an older female rabbit in an attempt to take over dominance
Pseudopregnancy is the result of ovulation and the release of ova. The corpus luteum and the uterus begin to develop and prepare for gestation and mammary glands may swell. Since there is no fertilization of the ova, the levels of hormones that promote gestation remain low. Around the 12 th day of the pseudopregnancy, the corpus luteum and the uterus start to regress, accompanied by mammary gland involution. Between the 15 th and 18 th day, an increase in estrogen secretion and a drop in progesterone level occurs. These changes trigger maternal behavior and loosening of the hair. While building her nest, the female rabbit will pull out abdominal or shoulder hair and begin frenetic gathering of various materials (e.g., hay, paper) to use in its construction. This behavior lasts 1 to 3 days, after which the rabbit resumes its usual habits.
Any material is collected and transported to the nest
Nest in litterbox. The rabbit is arranging the gathered material in the nest
The nest is a mixture of hay, plucked fur and any material found.
Hormonal fluctuations cause the rabbit tremendous stress and can lead to aggressiveness, growling and biting the days preceding the nest building. Pseudopregnancies can become chronic when a female remains intact, increasing the risk of developing reproductive disorders such as pyometra, hydrometra, or uterine adenocarcinoma, and/or mastitis.
Pseudopregnancy should not be confused with abnormal fur chewing activities: fur chewed and bitten off over the entire body, or this is performed on another rabbit when living as a bonded pair or in a group. Causes include stress, the presence of skin parasites, overcrowding, boredom, and seasonal factors.
Fur-collecting behavior should not be confused with the plucking and ingestion of fur observed in nursing does or rabbits that suffer from mineral nutrient or fiber deficiencies in their diet.
Rarely gathering and transport of nesting material is observed in castrated male rabbits. A nest is made, but there is no fur plucking behavior. The etiology of this behavior is not well understood; hermaphrodism or hormonal disbalance have been ruled out. It usually stops when the rabbit grows older.
Carson, a castrated male rabbit that gathers hay and takes it from one place to another in his pen
Nest building and hair pulling behavior is indicative for pseudopregnancy when an intact female rabbit lives in an environment with no other rabbits, or shares space with a neutered male (neutered at least several weeks prior so that he is no longer able to impregnate) or with another female. Extensive hair-pulling is indicative of the end of a pseudopregnancy or gestation phase. Bald spots with healthy looking skin appear on the dewlap, shoulders, or ventral abdomen, and expose the nipples. Damaged or torn skin can result in secondary skin infections.
Nacked skin on the ventral abdomen and shoulder (arrow) of female rabbits as a result of fur plucking
The treatment of choice for hormonally-driven fur-plucking behavior is ovariohysterectomy. This surgical procedure will, furthermore, help prevent the onset of other fatal reproductive disorders frequently observed in unaltered females, such as uterine cancer, endometrial hyperplasia, mammary gland disorders. If pseudopregnancy is accompanied by a secondary disorder or infection of the genital tract, it is important to stabilize the health of the rabbit prior to surgery with appropriate drugs and supportive treatment.
For detailed information on pseudopregnancy in rabbits:
by Esther van Praag, Amir Maurer and Tal Saarony,
2010, 408 pages. $85.-
My gratitude goes to Arie van Praag (Switzerland) and Kim Chilson (USA) and her rabbit Carson for their pictures.
Meredith A, Flecknell P. BSAVA Manual of Rabbit Medicine and Surgery Second Edition BSAVA, 1 Telford Way, Quedgeley, Gloucester, GL2 2AB, UK. 2006
Quesenberry KE, Carpenter JW. Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents — Clinical Medicine and Surgery. Second Edition. WB Saunders, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. 2004. �