Sexing A Rabbit: How To Guide

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Sexing A Rabbit: How To Guide

Post by Happy Hoppers on Mon Jun 23, 2008 10:24 pm

How to Sex your rabbit

It can be very difficult to sex a rabbit accurately and even the most professional vets find it hard to determine accurately before the rabbit is 3 months old. It becomes much easier to sex rabbits the older they get but after about 5 months it should be fairly obvious. If you are having trouble working out the sex of your bunny then you can always ask the vets to check for you at your next visit. It is important to remember that at 3 months old rabbits become sexually active and the sexes will need to be separated.

The best way to sex your rabbit is as follows:

1. Position the rabbit upside down. You can either do this by cradling them in your arm (it is sometimes less stressful if you adapt this to tuck your rabbit’s head into the crook of your elbow) or locking them between your legs. It depends what your rabbit is more comfortable with. Here are some photos of the positions.

Cradling (Stu):


Adapted cradling (Stu):


Between legs (Hazel):



Be warned, however, as most rabbits do not like being upside-down (despite many reports on “trancing” rabbits, staying so still is usually just a fear response and so can be wuite stressful despite the relaxed appearence) and they may wriggle to get away if you are not supporting them properly. Make sure you are gentle yet firm – if your bunny thinks you are going to drop him he will struggle even harder! You may need a second person to help you secure the bunny, just to be on the safe side. Once the rabbit is calm proceed to the next step.

2. Identify the ‘vent’. This is a term for the genital region of a rabbit, male or female and includes both the sex organs and the anus. This is shown here (courtesy of Domino).:



3. You may need to 'pull back' the top of the vent to reveal the sex organs and anus and from there you can expose the genitals. This can be done by placing a finger either side of the genital opening and pressing down carefully. It may be necessary to gently pull back the top of the vent area as you push down in order to get the genitals to ‘pop’ out:



Males – Males develop testicles which drop between 9 and 20 weeks of age. Testicles allow the rabbit’s sperm to be kept at the optimum temperature by their ability to move ina dn out od the body; so if it is warm the testicles will descend from the body (cooling the sperm). If the rabbit is cold or afraid it may well draw its testicles back up into the body. If your rabbit has testicles it may be beneficial to examine it on a warm day as there is a greater chance of spotting the testicles (if they have descended).
Testicles are the most obvious sign of a male rabbit but if your rabbit is young (or if it is a cold day!) then you will need to check for a penis. A rabbit’s penis looks like a pink tube with a round opening and a rounded end, some owners refer to it as looking like a 'donut'. The following photo shows an 8 week old buck’s genitals (courtesy of Domino whose testicles have not yet descended):




Females – Females are often harder to identify as they look very similar to males. Usually a female will have a conical shaped genital area with a rounded edge and a ‘slit’ down the middle - the tip towards the belly. Be aware though that the vulva can often protrude quite a way and many a doe has been mistaken for a buck because of this! Here you can see an 8 week old doe’s genitals (courtesy of Hazel):



Do not forget that you will need to separate your rabbits into single-sex groups at around 2 months old as they can reach sexual maturity from as young as 3 months. Neutering is not recommended until the rabbit reaches approximately 6 months of age (if female) or as soon as the testicles drop (if male).

It is highly recommend that you neuter your rabbit. Not only does this prevent unwanter litters but it provides many health benefits. For more information on Neutering, please see HERE
More photos are available here: http://www.rabbitnetwork.org/articles/sexing.shtml

References:
House Rabbit Network (2004) ‘How to sex your rabbit’ (http://www.rabbitnetwork.org/articles/sexing.shtml)

Dana Krempels ‘How can I determine my rabbit’s sex?’ (http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/sexing.html)

Earth Kids (2003) ‘How to check the gender of your rabbit’ (http://www.earthskids.com/ekbunny-gender.htm)

This Document is Copyright © Helen Coulson, HappyHoppers Forums Uk. June 2008.UK. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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