How to Tell if my Rabbit is Male or Female
In the case of rabbits, as happens with other pets like cats or turtles, it can be difficult to distinguish males from females,especially when they are young. It is quite important to know the sex of your pets if you have a pair of rabbits, because they are animals with a high reproductive rate that, if not controlled, could lead to you having more bunnies than you can manage in a surprisingly short time.
The most effective way to tell a rabbit's sex is to assess the ano-genital distance, that is, the distance between the anus and genitals. It is shorter in females than in males, but there are other details you need to take into account. In this oneHOWTO article we'll explain how to tell if your rabbit is male or female using this method. Read on!
The first step to know if your rabbit is male or female is to place it belly-up to inspect the genital area comfortably. Do it gently, because these animals are quite nervous and prone to stress, as tends to happen when you need to brush it or clip its nails safely.
It's better if you have someone to help you hold the rabbit during this process. Do not pick them up, but rather lay them on a cushion or low table to prevent accidents if it jumps or tries to escape. If the rabbit refuses to lay down, you can examine it while it is sitting on its tail. It is very important to prevent them from kicking and avoid holding them by their ears.
If the bunny is very young, examine them with gloves on to avoid passing on diseases or your smell, which could lead the mother to reject it. Once the examination is done, let them go: lying exposed is a serious cause of distress in rabbits.
Once your rabbit is upside down, locate the opening of the anus and the genitals. In female rabbits, you will see the anus very close to the tail. Following it very closely, nearer the abdomen, you will see an oval hole, as in the picture. That is the rabbit's vulva, what lets you know that your rabbit is female.
In male rabbits you can also see the anus, approximately in the same location as in females. However, unlike in their case, the next opening - where the penis is situated - is farther from the anus: there is a clear separation. Furthermore, the orifice is more circular than in females, as you can see in the image.
Some experts sex their male rabbits by externalizing the penis. This is done by applying gentle pressure on the edges of the hole and extracting it: however, it is not at all recommendable for inexperienced owners, as you could seriously hurt your rabbit.
Another easy way to know if a rabbit is male or female is to check if you can notice the testicles. Unlike most other animals, male rabbits have a scrotal sac for each testicle, and they are not behind the penis but at each side, and slightly forwards, nearer the belly.
A male rabbit's testicles are easy to notice, because they are usually hairless and of a purple shade. However, they may be retracted in situations of stress. If you can't find the testicles, that is not a completely sure sign that a rabbit is female.
Checking the genitals is the obvious way to tell male and female rabbits apart, but they often show behavioral or appearance differences.
Female rabbits tend to be more aggressive. They show nesting behaviors, and you will often find them digging or protecting their territory. On the other hand, males are more affectionate and curious, although both sexes are likely to spray.
Male rabbits are usually smaller, while females are the only ones who have nipples or, in some large breeds, a dewlap - a fold of skin under the chin.
If despite the above you still have doubts regarding your rabbit's sex, we recommend that you take it to avet who will be able tell you for sure if it is male or female. Bunnies reach sexual maturity at only three months old, so if you have more than one you should sex them as soon as possible to neuter or separate them if necessary.
It is important that you have a basic understanding of how to care for a rabbit so that your pet has a healthy, happy life. When you adopt a rabbit, contact a vet and establish your rabbit's medical records.
You will need to provide objects to gnaw on in order to file its teeth, such as driftwood or special toys for rabbits, and you will have to let it exercise outside the cage daily. A healthy diet for rabbits must include vegetables, hay and dry feed. You should never bathe your rabbit, as it can become stressed or ill: take care of its hygiene by brushing it frequently, which will prevent trichobezoars or hairballs in the stomach.
Stay with us at oneHOWTO for detailed information about how to care for a pet rabbit.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to a vet if it has any type of condition or pain.
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