torsdag den 15. september 2011
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Rabbits have a very rapid reproductive rate. The breeding season for most rabbits lasts 9 months, from February to October. In Australia and New Zealand breeding season is late July to late January. Normal gestation is about 30 days. The average size of the litter varies but is usually between 4 and 12 babies, with larger breeds having larger litters. A kit (baby rabbit) can be weaned at about 4 to 5 weeks of age. This means in one season a single female rabbit can produce as many as 800 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. A doe is ready to breed at about 6 months of age, and a buck at about 7 months. Courtship and mating are very brief, lasting only 30 to 40 seconds. Courtship behavior involves licking, sniffing, and following the doe. Spraying urine is also a common sexual behavior. Female rabbits are reflex ovulators. The female rabbit also may or may not lose clumps of hair during the gestation period.
Ovulation begins 10 hours after mating. After mating, the female will make a nest or burrow, and line the nest with fur from the dewlap, flanks, and belly. This behavior also exposes the nipples enabling her to better nurse the kits. Kits are altricial, which means they are born blind, naked, and helpless. Passive immunity (immunity acquired by transfer of antibodies or sensitized lymphocytes from another animal) is acquired by kits prior to birth via placental transfer. At 10 to 11 days after birth the baby rabbits' eyes will open and they will start eating on their own at around 14 days old.