Can Domestic Rabbits Breed With Wild Rabbits?

Rabbits are lively and playful creatures that love to hop and run around. They’re usually happy creatures.

Many rabbit owners let their rabbits play outdoors in the open so they don’t feel like they’re caged, which may result in a buildup of stress.

However, one concern of most rabbit owners is whether their pet rabbit can breed with wild rabbits because there’s always a possibility of that happening when the rabbit is let outdoors.

Can Domestic Rabbits Breed with Wild Rabbits?

No, domestic rabbits should not breed with wild rabbits.

Domestic rabbits and wild rabbits are entirely different species with different genetic makeup. Their DNA isn’t compatible.

Pet rabbits and wild animals won’t breed. However, even if they do end up mating, the offspring won’t survive the gestation phase and will die before birth because of genetic incompatibility.

Why Don’t Domestic Rabbits Breed with Wild Rabbits?

To put it simply, domestic rabbits and wild rabbits are 2 different species that aren’t compatible in any way.

An animal won’t breed with another animal that they don’t feel they belong to.

Domestic rabbits are descendants of European rabbits and are entirely different from wild rabbits. While both pet and wild rabbits are rabbits and they look similar too, they are anything but that!

Domestic rabbits have got 22 pairs of chromosomes, whereas wild rabbits (cottontails) have got only 21 pairs of chromosomes.

With a different genetic makeup, pet and wild rabbits are entirely different species, and therefore, the two won’t breed.

However, if, by any chance, pet and wild rabbits do mate (chances are very slim), the chances that an offspring will be produced is next to none.

The offspring won’t survive past the pregnancy phase because of genetic incompatibility.

Also read: How Many Rabbits Can Live Together in One Cage?

How to Prevent Pet Rabbits from Breeding with Wild Rabbits?

While it’s highly unlikely for a pet rabbit to breed with its wild counterparts, it can happen if your pet rabbit escapes into the wild or a wild rabbit finds its way inside your premises.

When that happens, the rabbit can get pregnant, but they won’t give birth to healthy offspring.

As we said earlier, the embryo will die due to differences in the chromosome number of both parents.

This can cause your female pet rabbit a lot of distress and affect its health. You should try to prevent this from happening in the first place.

The question is, how?

If you own a female rabbit, it’s best to get it spayed so that it doesn’t stay fertile and capable of bearing children.

You can neuter a male rabbit to ensure it doesn’t impregnate a wild female rabbit and cause her any distress.

Did you know that a wild rabbit can try to mount your female pet rabbit even if it’s spayed? In that case, a scary possibility is a phantom pregnancy.

The female can’t get pregnant because her ovaries have been removed through the spaying procedure, but the female rabbit doesn’t know it.

When a wild rabbit mounts her, she’ll start to believe that she’s pregnant. This can cause the rabbit a lot of stress.

The rabbit will start to pull its hair and present nesting behavior, which might help you identify the possibility of phantom or false pregnancy.

Your best bet in preventing your pet rabbit from breeding with a wild rabbit is to avoid their encounter in the first place.

Even if you’re letting your pet rabbit play in the yard, always keep an eye out to see what the rabbit is doing.

Also read: Why Do Male Rabbits Fall Over After Mating?

Can Domestic Rabbits and Wild Rabbits Bond?

It’s possible for domestic rabbits to bond with wild rabbits, but they two will have to spend plenty of time together to get familiar with each other, and that rarely happens.

So, the bonding between domestic and wild rabbits is highly unlikely.

However, if your pet rabbit gets to spend time with a wild rabbit for some reason, let’s say if you bring one home yourself, they may bond. But we would strongly suggest you not let that happen.

Domestic rabbits are neat and tidy and also vaccinated. On the contrary, wild rabbits are none of that.

Wild rabbits carry diseases and pests on them, and allowing them near your pet rabbit puts your pet rabbit at a high risk of catching infections and falling sick.

Moreover, wild rabbits aren’t used to staying confined in a cage, and they may get stressed. Too much stress isn’t healthy for rabbits because they’re very sensitive creatures.

When under stress, they may end up getting into a fight with your pet rabbit. Though it happens rarely, there’s a lingering risk. You better be safe than sorry!

Also read: Can Domestic Rabbits Survive in the Wild?

How Different are Domestic Rabbits and Wild Rabbits?

We know that domestic and wild rabbits are two different species altogether. Their genetic makeup is entirely different, making them contrastingly different from each other.

But apart from that, how are domestic rabbits and wild rabbits different? They look quite similar to each other, don’t they?

Yet they’re different, so different that they can’t even breed with each other.


The first difference between the two is domestication.

Domestic rabbits come from the lineage of rabbits that have been kept as pets for several decades to make them accustomed to living in domestic environments.

On the other hand, wild rabbits aren’t used to staying confined to an indoor environment, and therefore, their behavior isn’t suitable for keeping them as pets.

Physical Appearance

Wild rabbits are known as cottontail rabbits and are so named because their tail resembles a soft cotton swab. They’re usually brown in color and weigh about 1 to 2 pounds.

They’ve got skinny legs that account for swift movement, which is a part of their ‘survival’. They’ve got to move about swiftly when they sense danger out in the wild.

As far as the physical appearance of domestic rabbits is concerned, there’s no generalized description because there are numerous breeds of rabbits that are domesticated and kept as pets.

You’ll find domestic rabbits in different sizes, colors, and physiques, so there’s no one description that you’ll find when it comes to how a domestic rabbit looks.

Ability to Survive Indoors

Another trait that differentiates domestic and wild rabbits is the ability to survive indoors. Domestic rabbits, as we said earlier, have been domesticated over several decades.

Domestic rabbits weren’t tamed or trained over a few weeks to be able to live indoors. The process of domestication spans several decades, and it involves trait selection and careful breeding.

This is what enables their ability to survive indoors.

That’s not the case with wild rabbits. Since they aren’t familiar with the domestic environment, keeping them in your home will only cause them stress that’s not good for their health.

Trying to tame a wild rabbit to learn to live indoors and behave as well as a pet rabbit can be frustrating for you and traumatizing for the little animal.

Wild rabbits can’t live in domestic settings and you can’t train them to survive indoors either. It’s not how it works!

Can a Wild Rabbit Impregnate a Domestic Rabbit?

Most wild rabbits are Eastern rabbits and pet rabbits are European rabbits. Since they’re 2 different species, a wild rabbit can’t possibly impregnate a pet rabbit.

However, some rabbits found in the wild are also European rabbits.

Staying in the wild doesn’t make them truly wild (like Eastern rabbits) since they’re different species altogether.

If these wild rabbits that are actually European species mate with domestic animals, they can impregnate your pet rabbit.

Can a Pet Wild Rabbit Impregnate a Domestic Rabbit?

No. A wild rabbit that you’ve kept as a pet (that you shouldn’t) can’t impregnate a domestic rabbit because they both belong to different species, as we’ve explained earlier.

Rabbits that aren’t the same species are highly unlikely to breed.

Is it Wise to Keep Wild Rabbits and Domestic Rabbits Together?

Keeping wild rabbits and domestic rabbits together isn’t a wise thing to do, especially if they’re both the opposite sexes.

There are numerous reasons why you shouldn’t keep the two breeds of rabbits together.

Wild rabbits are skittish with strong survival instincts.

They protect themselves if they sense a threat. If your domestic rabbit does any sudden action, the wild rabbit may consider it a threat and attack.

Though it’ll be in defense, your domestic rabbit may not be able to protect themselves as they aren’t used to it.

Secondly, wild rabbits are often carrying dangerous pests like ticks and flee, and keeping them with your domestic rabbit will put the homey rabbits at risk of getting infested by pests and falling sick.

Thirdly, in case the two rabbits breed (which is highly unlikely), the female rabbit will undergo a lot of distress because the embryo will die, and the impact will be directly on the female’s health.

All of these reasons are good enough not to keep the two breeds of rabbits together, no matter how well they seem to get along.

Some things aren’t meant to happen, and one of them is harmonious bonding between wild and domestic rabbits.

Domestic rabbits can’t (and won’t) breed with wild rabbits, so if that’s a concern that keeps you from letting your rabbit play out in the open, you can rest assured that it won’t happen.

Keeping an eye won’t hurt, though!

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