Pseudopregnancy - Rabbit

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Does are induced ovulators, and ovulation occurs 10 to 12 hours following a mating.

If the mating is sterile or unsuccessful, or if ovulation is stimulated by the mounting of another doe, the liberated ova will not be fertilised and pseudopregnancy occurs, lasting 16-18 days. The corpus luteum and uterus develop as in a normal pregnancy, but these starts to regress from day 12.

The doe will show maternal behaviour and nest-making, linked to the swift drop in blood progesterone.

Clinical Signs

The rabbit will show signs of pregnancy including: mammary and nipple development, increased aggression, hoarding of toys, urine marking and nest-making.

Does will pull hair from their ventrum to make the nest, and so ventral alopecia is a common finding.

Mammary hyperplasia may sometimes lead to mastitis.


There may be slight uterine enlargement on abdominal palpation, but no foetuses are felt.

If a male has been in contact with the doe, she might still be pregnant and radiographs can be performed to check for foetuses.

To eliminate other causes of alopecia, including ectoparasites and dermatophytes, skin scrapings and culture can be performed if necessary.


It does not appear helpful to administer hormone therapy to shorten the pseudopregnancy. It is a benign condition that will resolve without treatment.

If the does is not used for breeding, ovariohysterectomy should be performed as a permanent cure for repeated pseudopregnancies as these can lead to pyometra or hydrometra. This will also prevent the very common uterine adenocarcinoma.

Pseudopregnancy - Rabbit Learning Resources
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Rabbit Medicine and Surgery Q&A 10


Brown, S. (1997) Self Assessment colour review of small mammals Manson Publishing

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