Caring for your rabbit includes understanding it’s life cycle:
As a responsible pet owner it is important to know and understand how you should respond during the various stages of your rabbit’s normal growth and development. It also aids the life expectancy of your rabbit to be knowledgeable and know quickly what action you should take if complications do occur.
Understanding the life cycle of your rabbit;
- Enables you to better identify causes of different rabbit behaviour and thus: take better care of your rabbit’s needs, health issues and so on.
- Be forewarned of the different issues or problems you’ll likely encounter throughout your rabbit’s life and whether there is need for serious concern.
- Be forewarned of possible health and safety risks that you can implement precautionary measures for. This enables potential for your rabbit to lead a long and healthy life. It is worth noting that wild (uncared for) rabbits only have a life expectancy of 1-3 years.
Life Span of Rabbits:
Rabbits actually have a very fast reproduction rate;
- The average litter will have 4-12 offspring
- Typically, one female rabbit can give birth to about 6 litters.
- The breeding season will take up to 9 months from the late winter to early fall season.
- After the female is finished mating, she will create a nest to give birth in. The kits (baby rabbits) are born helpless, blind, and without fur. The offspring develop a soft but thin coat of hair within a few days and the initial soft coat will be replaced after several weeks to a pre adult coat and the fur will be shed two times a year after that. They won’t be able to open their eyes until about one week to 10 days after they are born and will not be able to feed on their own until after 2 weeks.
- It takes about 6 to 8 months for a rabbit to grow fully since the birth.
- The expected lifespan of a rabbit ranges between 6 – 12 years. However, with predators that typically live in the same environment them, the average lifespan of wild rabbits will be about 1-3 years.
If you can take really good care of your rabbit, including properly nurturing him at the right times, he’ll be more likely to live a long, rabbit happy life. Rabbits are inexpensive to maintain as pets and need little care to grow.
Newly born Rabbits:
- Newly born rabbits, especially those breeds that are kept as domestic pet are born deaf and blind. They do not have hair on their body.
- The mother builds a nest with the hair pulled from her own body to provide warmth and protection of her newborn.
- The eyes of the baby rabbits or “kits” as they are known, start to open about 14 days after birth. It is at this stage, while still surviving on their mother’s milk, that they start their exploration of a world beyond the nest.
Growth of Rabbits:
When the rabbits are about four to six weeks older they start eating solid food and drink water but they still try to have mother’s milk if she lets them. During this period they like to spend most of the time out of the confinement of the nest or the cages that are built for them.
Rabbits generally reach maturity between the age of 6 to 10 months. This time span depends largely on the breed of rabbit.
Smaller breed rabbits tend to reach maturity more quickly than larger breed rabbits do.
- You should resist buying a rabbit that is less than 6 weeks old.
- Fresh vegetables like carrots or broccoli should not be fed to your rabbit until it is 6 months old.
- Rabbits less than the age of 6 months have rapid growth and therefore need sufficient food. Don’t presume bunnies should eat less merely because they are small in size. While keeping this in mind also take into consideration that you should have control over the amount of food offered because bunnies will keep eating no matter how much you put in their bowl.
As your rabbit grows older and reaches full growth, at approximately 6 – 8 months of age, you can start giving them fresh vegetables and fruits to eat.
Please see Informed Farmer “Rabbit” articles for additional information related to rabbit life cycle and life span issues.