When my rabbits finally kindled their first litter of kits, I was so excited.
As soon as I saw the small pink bundles in the nesting box, I instantly became concerned that the male rabbit or buck would perhaps eat these little “sprinkle pops” as my dad called them.
Could a male rabbit stay with its babies? I was concerned.
A chat with my local vet helped reassure me about what to do and whether my buck rabbit could stay with the doe and her kits.
Can Male Rabbit Stay With Their Babies?
Male rabbits will not usually eat their own offspring.
In fact, male rabbits are quite nurturing towards kits, and as long as the doe allows them, they will care for the kits as much as the mom does.
Only in rare instances or when the kits are from a different rabbit buck or have become sickly will a buck consider eating or hurting a baby rabbit.
5 Concerns in Letting a Male Rabbit Stay With Their Kits
As a rabbit owner, I love my doe’s kits, and I was nervous about leaving the buck in the hutch with them.
Would he hurt or eat his young?
Buck Aggression With Kits
Bucks are surprisingly docile when it comes to being around their kits.
Only when the male kits are ready to wean will he start to show some aggression toward the young buck rabbit.
This aggression is quite understandable as the young babies are no threat to him, but a young buck that’s just about to reach breeding age may be seen as a challenger.
Cannibalism Among Rabbits
Rabbits are rarely cannibalistic with their offspring.
Eating their own kind is rare with rabbits, and when it does happen, it is seen as abnormal behavior.
Rabbits will only eat their young when there is confusion with the doe, when the rabbit buck has shown aggression because the litter isn’t the buck’s kits, and when the adult rabbits are starving.
Mating Behavior Can Result in Injuries
Ok, so you know your buck won’t just munch on his young without a good reason, but he can still injure them.
The most serious injuries can occur when the rabbit doe has kindled, and she becomes fertile in 24 hours’ time.
While covering the doe, the buck might become overzealous and kick at one of the kits that get in the way.
If the nesting box is too small for the rabbits to coexist and mate peacefully, the adult rabbits may suffocate the kits if they struggle to breathe.
The Buck Can Mate With the Doe
Another reason why rabbit keepers know to separate the buck from the doe and the kits is that the doe is fertile within 24 hours of kindling.
This means that if the buck is still with her, he will cover her and she will have another litter in less than a month!
While those in the meat industry may profit from this speedy reproductive cycle, you won’t be happy to have that many baby rabbits to deal with, rehome, or feed.
Removing the buck is then less about the current babies and more about ensuring there are no future babies (at least until you are ready to have more).
Bucks May Spray the Kits
When bucks are near a doe that’s in season, they may spray the area to indicate their dominance.
This could lead to the kits or doe being sprayed while the buck marks his territory.
Since kits are born without hair, it could cause problems when they are covered with ammonia-smelling urine.
Likewise, the doe could suffer a fly strike if her fur is wet from being urinated on.
This alone is reason enough to separate the buck from the doe and her babies.
Why Do Rabbits Eat Their Young?
If you have been worried about leaving the buck with the doe and her kits when she kindles, then chances are you worry that the adult rabbits may eat their young.
In nature, we often see this.
I know my first fish tank was a disaster. I left the male guppy in the breeding tank, and before long, the little fries were all devoured.
So I took the male out with the next spawning, only to realize the female guppy also eats her young!
Fortunately, rabbits are different.
Male and female rabbits won’t eat their young. Rarely, when the rabbit doe is emaciated, has never had kits before, or if they are ill, they may eat their kits when they are newborn or a few weeks old.
Male rabbits may eat a kit if they are feeling territorial or if the kit isn’t theirs.
Rabbit owners use the opportunity of the kindling to separate the buck from the doe as the doe will be happily focused on her kits and not miss the buck so much.
During this separation, the buck can also be neutered to prevent more litters in the future.
When the buck returns, he should be kept separate from the doe for at least six weeks as he may still be fertile that long.
A buck that has been neutered will be even more docile and no threat to the kits at all.
After the six-week period, you can place the buck and doe back together with the kits and not worry about the buck being a danger to the kits at all.
How to Safely Separate the Buck From the Doe and Kits
Separating the buck from the doe and kits should be done as peacefully as possible.
Rabbits quickly become stressed, and you don’t want to have either the buck or doe feel anxious and weaken their immune system.
To separate the buck from the doe, carefully and gently catch and hold the buck in the correct heart-to-heart grip, securing his back legs since he may kick if he feels threatened.
Next, place the male in a smaller cage that is placed adjacent to the female’s cage.
They should still be able to see and hear each other, like you perhaps did when bonding these two rabbits.
Take care not to let the two cages touch, and keeping an inch or two between the cages will help the process while eliminating the chances of remating after birth.
Provide healthy food for both cages. The doe will focus on her kits, while the buck will happily munch his greens and hay.
Only return the buck when you are ready to have another litter or if the buck has been neutered and has passed the six-week “dry off” period.
Some FAQs about Male Rabbits Staying With Their Babies
Below are some common questions people have about male rabbits staying with the babies.
When should I separate my male and female baby rabbits?
If your male rabbit has access to the kits, be sure the female kits are kept away from him when they reach the age of 16 weeks.
Male rabbits will impregnate their own offspring does if they are sexually mature.
Can you keep a buck and doe rabbit together?
While you can keep a buck and doe rabbit together, if the buck is unaltered, the doe will have litters every month.
This could lead to a rabbit population way beyond what you can imagine as the buck would also impregnate his own daughters.
What will happen if you keep a buck with the doe and her kits?
The buck will breed with the doe as soon as she has kindled her kits. Does are fertile within 24 hours of having given birth.
If the male is territorial, he may kick the kits or hurt them while mating with the doe in an enclosed hutch.
While I love my rabbits, and my buck and doe are bonded for life, I knew it was time to remove him from the cage when my doe started pulling fur and showed signs of being ready to kindle.
A buck rabbit is not a danger to kits, but keeping him with them means keeping him with the doe too, and that just leads to exponential population growth for my rabbits.
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