Miss Cotton Tail, our family pet rabbit, had been with us for almost a year.
It was hutch cleaning day, and I was busy emptying her litter box when I noticed red splotches on the hay.
I got quite a fright but instantly assumed that my little bunny was growing up, and she had started her period.
Her behavior was off, she seemed a bit ill, and I wondered if she was menstruating?
Do Rabbits Have Periods?
No, Rabbits don’t have periods. A Bloody discharge or red urine can often be mistaken as a period in unspayed female rabbits.
The red-tinged color that you see in your rabbit’s pee results from their diet and plant pigmentation and is no cause for concern.
However, if your rabbit starts passing blood, you need to take them to the vet immediately, as this can be a much more severe condition that can lead to death if left untreated.
Rabbits and Periods
Female rabbits don’t have menstrual cycles like female dogs or cats.
Instead, they experience irregular estrous cycles (the period from one ovulation to the next), which begin once your female bun has reached sexual maturity (4 to 6 months old).
With other female mammals (such as dogs), ovulation begins before mating. Your rabbit will only ovulate after copulation.
Female rabbits have periods of responsiveness for about 5 to 14 days, followed by 2 days when they will refuse to mate.
Unlike menstruating, where the endometrium is shed, rabbits reabsorb the endometrium during an estrous cycle.
The cycle will repeat until the doe is successfully pregnant. Once she has had her litter, the cycle will begin again.
Rabbit: An Induced Ovulator
Female rabbits are induced ovulators, which means they ovulate due to external stimuli during mating.
They don’t ovulate on a regular cycle like other female mammals that menstruate.
There are a few stimuli that cause induced ovulation in rabbits, such as:
- Receiving genital stimulation
- During coitus
- Masturbation on inanimate and animate objects
- Auditory stimuli
- Visual stimuli
- Olfactory stimuli such as pheromones
Other Animals That Are Induced Ovulators
Rabbits are not the only female animals that are induced ovulators. Here are look some other induced ovulators:
Also read: How to Induce Labor in Rabbits?
Why Is Rabbit Urine Red?
Red rabbit urine is common in rabbits and is usually not an indication of any severe underlying health conditions.
The red-tinged pee is generally because of plant pigments or the high protein content found in your bun’s diet.
Finding blood in your rabbit’s urine is rare and will appear more as splotches than red-colored urine.
If your bun has difficulty passing urine and there is hematuria (blood in the urine) present, you must seek veterinary advice, as this could indicate urinary bladder disease.
Let’s take a closer look at some reasons why your bun might have red urine:
Certain medications, especially antibiotic treatment, can change the color of your bun’s urine, giving it a bright red color.
The color will settle once the course of antibiotics is complete.
Your rabbit’s diet can also affect the color of their urine.
For example, if your bun eats a lot of carrots and spinach, which contains high levels of beta-carotene, their urine can turn red.
A diet that includes red berries such as strawberries and raspberries will also cause a red tinge to your rabbit’s urine.
As the season changes to autumn and the temperature drops significantly, this can cause some rabbits to develop red urine.
This sudden color change usually only lasts a couple of days.
Another cause of red urine in rabbits is the development of calciuria. This condition can be fatal for your bun, and you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Calciuria is a result of high calcium levels in a rabbit’s diet. The calcium deposits block the opening of the urethra and cause extreme discomfort and pain for your bun.
If this condition isn’t treated quickly, the bacteria will travel into the kidneys and can lead to kidney damage and failure.
A few signs to look out for are:
- Urine that is bloodstained
- Passing minimal volumes of urine
- Unable to control their bladder
- Urine dribbling
- Lack of appetite
Urinary Tract Infection
Unfortunately, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are pretty common in rabbits as they get older (from about 3 to 5 years).
UTIs can cause inflammation in your rabbit’s bladder, which causes red urine, discomfort, and pain when they urinate.
UTIs are caused by a build-up of bacteria in the bladder, and sludge or stones in the ureters.
Trauma to the ureters from a cancerous growth can also cause a UTI (although this is rare).
If you suspect your bun has a UTI, there are some obvious signs to look out for:
- Thick substance in the urine
- Signs of distress when trying to urinate
- A urine rash
- Moans and grunts when urinating
- Frequent urination
Another cause of red urine in rabbits is cystic calculi (kidney stones).
These stones are made of excess calcium that has hardened and formed stones, which have collected in the rabbit’s urinary tract.
Here a few factors that can cause the development of kidneys stones in rabbits:
- A high calcium diet
- Insufficient water intake
- Kidney and bladder disease
- Bad genetics
- Lack of exercise
Some signs you should look out for if you suspect your bun has kidney stones are:
- Dribbling urine
- Particles or sludge found in the urine
- Frequent urination
- Straining to urinate
- No urination
- Urine rash (scald)
Listeriosis is a bacterial blood infection that can result in the stillbirth or abortion of an unborn rabbit.
An aborted fetus may cause red-spotted urine. If your bun passes blood, she must be taken to the vet for treatment urgently.
A few symptoms of listeriosis in rabbits are:
- Lack of energy
- Sudden and extreme weight loss
- Circling motion
- Excessive drooling
- Passing blood through the vulva
- Coughing or breathing problems
- Onset of diarrhea
Do Female Rabbits Go in Heat?
Female rabbits are driven by their natural instinct to mate and reproduce to keep the species alive.
A female rabbit never leaves the heat cycle, from her first heat cycle at around 4 months old (when she is sexually mature) until she is well into her senior years.
The doe will experience heightened or lessened sexual activity throughout her life. Your female bun should not expel any blood during the estrous cycle.
Female rabbits are more susceptible to developing uterine tumors such as adenocarcinoma when they become sexually mature and enter the heat cycle.
Signs that a Female Rabbit Is in Heat
There are some clear indications that your bun is in heat, such as:
- Marking her territory. Female buns start marking objects with their urine and poop. This usually has a strong odor.
- Your bun will start mounting objects to relieve sexual frustration.
- She may become aggressive and territorial and nip you when you try to pet her.
- Your bun may become restless and run around the hutch continuously.
- She may start gnawing on her cage or on toys.
- Her vulva may become more visible and turn a reddish-brown color.
If you don’t want to breed rabbits, it is generally recommended to spay your doe.
Spaying will curb unwanted aggressive and sexual behavior, and it eliminates reproductive cancers, ensuring your bun lives a long and healthy live (provided she’s well taken care of).
Some FAQs about Rabbits and Periods
What to do when a rabbit is bleeding?
Depending on the flow and amount of blood, you will need to try and stop the bleeding by covering the area with a bandage and applying light pressure until you can reach a vet.
Why is my bunny suddenly peeing everywhere?
If your rabbit is suddenly peeing everywhere, this can indicate that your bunny is marking its territory as it feels territorial.
Rabbits also pee everywhere to show dominance.
How do I know if my rabbit is pregnant?
A doe’s stomach will get bigger when she is pregnant, eat more, and become moody.
You will be able to feel marble-sized babies in her belly, and she will begin pulling out her own fur and start ‘nesting’ when it’s time to give birth (or kindle).
Final Rabbit Period Thoughts
Unlike other female mammals, rabbits don’t have periods, but this doesn’t mean they don’t experience a whirlwind of hormonal and behavioral disturbances during the estrous cycle.
They are also more likely to develop uterine tumors once their heat cycle begins.
Unless you are planning to breed rabbits, you should consider having your bun spayed to keep her happy and comfortable.
Your doe should not have to undergo a constant heat cycle that causes frustration for both you and your furry friend.
Spaying your bunny will help tremendously and take away the need to mate continuously, leaving you with a calm, happy, and healthy bunny.
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