How to Determine a Rabbit's Sex

Learn how to determine a rabbit's sex in this Howcast video featuring bunny lover Amy Sedaris and rabbit expert Mary E. Cotter.

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Rabbits make wonderful pets. If you're thinking of getting one, check out these videos: Actress Amy Sedaris, who is a loving mom to her own pet bunny, helps rabbit expert Mary E. Cotter, Ed.D., LVT answer all your questions about how to take care of a pet rabbit. It's not always easy, but it's worth the work.

 
 

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Transcript

Correctly sexing a rabbit is a really important task because you've heard the phrase, they breed like rabbits. Rabbits can have a litter approximately every 30 days. Now, that results in a huge number that I cannot calculate nor can I remember without a note to myself. So, I made here a rabbit multiplication table. This was actually done by one of our chapter managers in Florida, Donna Krimples, did a calculation one time of what would happen if you didn't correctly sex your rabbits and you put a male and female together and you let a few years go by. She calculated only with female rabbits. At the end of year two you would have a total of 1,369 rabbits. At the end of year three, you will have 50,653 rabbits. At the end of year four, you will have 1,872,792 rabbits. I could go on and on. She calculated up many years past this, but that will give you a good enough idea of what happens if you don't sex your rabbits correctly. This is an important topic because when rabbits are very young, it's very hard to tell one sex organ from another. They're very tiny and the openings which are characteristically different shapes, are not as well defined when the rabbits are babies. So, in a male rabbit as in other species, the penis can look like a tube with a hole on the end of it. In the female rabbit, it's a tube with a little slit on the end of it. The difference between a hole and a slit in a very young rabbit is almost indiscernible. When you get rabbits from the pet store and they're young, you want to keep them separate until you are absolutely positive of their sex. You can find out their sex easily enough by consulting a rabbit saavy vet. Sometimes you'll encounter other experts at rescue organizations where ever who can tell you the sex of a baby rabbit with a lot more accuracy than you'll be able to determine it yourself. Meanwhile, we have here Loretta and Finuccio and we're going to talk about how to sex a rabbit that's an adult already. Needless to say an adult male rabbit will have testicles and they're not subtle. They're about the size of cashew nuts actually. No pun intended, but they're the size of cashew nuts on either side of the genital opening and they're easy to see if they happen to be outside the body. Rabbits are able to pull their testicles back up into their abdominal cavity. They can run very fast through spikey under brush without getting injured because they can pull their testicles up inside their body cavity and they do that when they're scared too. So, if you're working with a male rabbit who's frightened, you may not see testicles outside. It's a really important skill to learn how to see the regular sex organ, the penis and the vagina on the rabbit whether you see testicles on the male or not. Let's take a look now. We have a little male here. These rabbits are both spayed and neutered, so we are not going to see testicles here, but we are going to see the normal ordinary sex organs. Here's the male and I push on either side of the genital region until I get something popping out and in this case it's a boy. You see it's clearly a tube with a little hole in the end of it. It's tiny and you can see that if it's this tiny in an adult rabbit you can imagine in a younger rabbit how tiny it is. I'm sorry to invade your personal space. I'm so sorry. May I look at yours now? What a good rabbit. What a good bunny you are. What a good bunny. So, we're now going to look at a female, Loretta. I'm going to pick her up. I'm sorry to be so personal, but we need your help. We need your help. I'm going to sit her up. I'm going to push on either side of the genital opening to make the organ pop out and there it is. You will see that this is a pink tube with a little slit on the end of it instead of a hole. That's a typical mature female sex organ. So, here we have a happily married couple who have committed to never having babies. Not a bad commitment.

Expert

  • Mary E. Cotter

    Mary E. Cotter, M.A., Ed.D., LVT is the founder of the NY-based Rabbit Rescue & Rehab. She serves as chapter manager of the NYC House Rabbit Society and is vice president of the International House Rabbit Society. Involved with rabbit rescue since 1982, she speaks and writes frequently on rabbit-related topics, addressing owners, veterinary professionals and shelter workers. Mary is an adjunct assistant professor in the veterinary technology department of LaGuardia Community College (City University of New York) and co-manages a 7,000-member Internet mailing list focused on rabbit health, care and behavior.