Male and female bunnies pretty much look the same in appearance. It isn’t like humans, where the one has longer hair or more female features, and telling the sex of a rabbit isn’t easy. Moreover, to the untrained eye, it is so easy to think both of your pet bunnies do… only to find that one of them is pregnant a few months later.
So how does a pet owner (or rabbit breeder) tell the male bunnies apart from the female ones?
Telling the sex of any rabbit isn’t easy, especially if they are younger than 4-6 weeks. It’s easiest to find out the gender of your adult rabbit. Female rabbits will have an “I”-shaped vent that hides their vulva, while male rabbits will have 2 testicles and a penis that’s hidden by the vent.
Let’s find out at what age you can sex your rabbit and how to do so.
At What Age Can You Tell the Gender of a Rabbit?
It isn’t easy or reliable to sex a young rabbit of under 4 weeks. These bunnies are difficult to hold and their gender parts may be too small to tell whether they are male or female.
It is best to wait until your pet rabbit is 4-6 weeks of age or even until they are 8-9 weeks old. Sexing an adult bunny (when they are 3 months or older) is the easiest since their genitalia are more developed.
How to Know If Your Rabbit Is Male or Female
To tell if your fluffy-eared bestie is a boy or girl, you need to first understand the genital parts and then the steps to follow to distinguish whether the rabbit is male or the rabbit is female.
Know the Rabbit Sexing Parts
Between their hind legs, rabbits (both female and male) have a pink bump that’s shaped like figure 8, which is called the vent. A rabbit’s anus is part of the vent area and situated closest to its tail.
The other part of the vent has a slit that hides the vulva for females or a penis for males. Interestingly, if the slit is “I” shaped, it hides the vulva while an “O”-shaped slit hides a penis.
You’d be able to see the testicles on a male rabbit when they are older than 10 weeks. The testicles appear on the sides of the slit and maybe purple if you look under the fur. But don’t just look for testicles on a male rabbit; they can retract these when they are scared, like when you do a surprise inspection of their genital parts.
Now that you know about the parts you need to identify to tell whether your rabbit is female or male, follow the next steps:
Step 1: Lay Your Rabbit on Its Back
The first step is to put your rabbit into position. Gently but firmly hold your bunny’s scruff and with your other hand, place it on their hind end. Scoop the rabbit’s legs from under it and place your bunny on its back on your lap, with its head toward your tummy and back area toward your knees.
Kindly note, however, that your bunny may not like to be held and or placed on its back; this places them in a vulnerable position. So don’t force your fluffy long-eared pal into this position. Remain calm; move slowly. Ensure you wear protective gloves when touching the rabbit’s genitalia.
Step 2: Look for the Vent
Your pet rabbit’s genitalia is between its hind legs, so look for the vent area. You may need to part some fur to find it.
Step 3: Check for Testicles
If you suspect you have a buck, then check to see if your rabbit has testicles, one purple torpedo-shaped lump on either side of the vent.
Even if you find these, it is a good idea to move on to the next step to verify your findings.
Step 4: Check the Genitalia
To check your rabbit’s genitalia, part the fur on the vent area. Gently apply pressure on either side of the vent; this opens the vent to make it easier to see what’s hidden.
If your bunny is female, you’ll see an “I”-shaped slit, while you’ll see an “O”-shaped slit or round structure if the bunny is male. If you still aren’t sure, then apply some pressure at the base of the vent and gently push back toward the bunny’s spine.
If your rabbit is a buck, its penis, a tube-like structure, will protrude. If your rabbit is a doe, then you’ll see the vent opening to the vulva, which is shaped like a petal.
Step 5: Check With Your Vet
If you are still not sure, ask your vet to verify your findings. Do this before you place two or more bunnies together in the same hutch or enclosure.
Why Is It Important to Determine the Gender of a Rabbit?
Besides simply being curious, there are important reasons to know what the sex of your fluff ball is:
Bonding or Pairing Decisions
Bonding or pairing bunnies is best done when you have a male and female rabbit. As such, you should be able to tell the gender of the rabbits, or check and make sure because the bunny seller could be wrong.
Two neutered male rabbits (called bucks) can be bonded pretty easily; however, does (or female rabbits) can be quite territorial. It is easier to pair 2 neutered lady bunnies.
Rabbits are happiest in pairs, but if you don’t want any unwanted pregnancies, then knowing the gender of your pet is crucial. There’s a reason the popular saying is to “breed like rabbits” and not some other animal, like fish or cats.
Rabbits can start breeding when they are 5-6 months old. Since the pregnancy is only about a month (give or take a few days) and with a doe kindling (or birthing) 1-12 kittens (baby rabbits) with each pregnancy, you can soon have an uncontrolled bunny population at home.
In fact, with a pair of bunnies mating over 4 years, you could have as many as 4 million rabbits. We don’t know about you, but that’s a big no-no!
Knowing the sex of your rabbit helps you pre-empt various health concerns and illnesses. For example, does that are unspayed are at a higher risk of developing uterine cancer. Thus, knowing you have a female rabbit as a pet ensures you can spay it to help protect the bunny.
Telling the sex of any bunny isn’t easy, but it is easier for adult rabbits compared to kittens. Follow the steps we’ve outlined above to sex your rabbit or ask your vet.
Make sure you wear gloves before performing this check to avoid transferring germs from one rabbit to another.