If you have a female rabbit and see signs of blood, you might wonder about the cause. Naturally, the first thought that might cross your mind is menstrual cycles.
Yet, is it possible for female rabbits to have periods as humans do? What should you do if your female rabbit presents with blood? Is it possible for rabbits to have periods?
Rabbits don’t menstruate because they are induced ovulators. This means that they don’t ovulate on a cycle (like humans do), but they instead ovulate when a suitable mate is nearby. If a mate is around, a female rabbit will then induce ovulation prior to or during mating.
Unlike humans, female rabbits do not get periods. There are very few species that menstruate—mainly apes and bats.
If you see blood on or nearby your rabbit, it does not mean that your rabbit has a period.
It might be something serious that certainly warrants further inspection. If there isn’t a visible reason for bleeding, you might want to contact a qualified small animal veterinarian, as bleeding in rabbits could cause death.
If your rabbit isn’t bleeding and you’d like to learn more about the female reproductive system, keep reading!
Rabbits are induced ovulators and only begin their reproductive phase when a suitable mate is around. If a mate is nearby, the female rabbit will begin to ovulate, thus preparing her body for pregnancy.
This process is also known as being in “heat,” It can occur at any time throughout the year. For this reason, rabbits can reproduce whenever they like and are “in season” all year round.
Further, rabbits can conceive as early as 24 hours after giving birth. Therefore, it is relatively easy for rabbits to procreate.
If your rabbit is in heat, there should not be any bleeding—the entire heat cycle takes place without menstruation.
Puberty in Rabbits
Like humans, rabbits can reach sexual maturity during puberty.
Female rabbits typically mature early and can begin to reproduce as early as 4-6 months of age.
Although rabbits can mature early, environmental factors can play a major part in reproduction time. A rabbit’s reproductive period can be very sensitive to environmental changes like weather conditions.
While it is difficult to tell when rabbits are reaching sexual maturity and getting ready to reproduce, there are a few signs you can look out for.
Physically, you might notice their reproductive organs getting darker in color. When turned upside down, the rabbit’s reproductive organs are usually visible. This color change can be an easy way to determine whether your rabbit might be reaching puberty.
Another thing to look for in sexually mature female rabbits is aggression. Has your rabbit’s mood changed lately? Do they seem angrier and more hostile? If so, your rabbit might be reaching the time to reproduce.
Changes in hormones can stimulate your rabbit’s emotions, and it might cause negative behaviors.
If you have a sexually mature rabbit, you might also notice changes in their bathroom habits close to induced ovulation or heat cycles.
Many rabbits are litter box trained. If you find your rabbit choosing not to use her litter box or she is marking her territory around your house, she might be getting ready to reproduce. While the urine may be dark or cloudy in color/consistency, rabbit urine should not appear bright red or bloody, even during ovulation.
Note: Rusty red urine can be produced when rabbits eat certain vegetables (like spinach). It can also occur when your rabbit is on antibiotics. If your rabbit’s urine is a rusty red, it is likely still healthy.
Why Your Rabbit Might be Bleeding
If your female rabbit is bleeding, it is not a period or natural. Visual presentation of blood can be several things, from a general cut to a bladder infection.
Bleeding can also signify something more serious, like kidney stones, bladder cancer, or uterine cancer.
If your rabbit will allow you to, the most important thing to do when your rabbit is bleeding is to inspect her physically. If you cannot find the cause of the bleeding or your rabbit has a laceration that appears to be deep, you should contact your veterinarian.
It should be noted that rabbits are incredibly sensitive animals, and they do not often show signs of pain or discomfort. If your rabbit seems out of sorts, it’s important to get her examined by a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible.
In conclusion, female rabbits do not get periods and your rabbit should not be bleeding.
A female rabbit’s reproductive cycle does not produce blood. Yet, this does not mean that they cannot get pregnant. (Check out the link in our “Additional Resources For Further Reading Section” to learn more about breeding and reproduction in rabbits.)
It’s quite the opposite! Due to female rabbits’ unique ovulation, rabbits can get pregnant year-round.
If you see blood on or near your female rabbit and aren’t sure of the cause, contact your small animal veterinarian to ensure your rabbit is safe and healthy.
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Additional Resources For Further Reading.
1. McClure, D. (2023, January 25). Breeding and reproduction of rabbits – all other pets. MSD Veterinary Manual. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://www.msdvetmanual.com/all-other-pets/rabbits/breeding-and-reproduction-of-rabbits