If you see signs of blood around your female rabbits then naturally, you may be wondering if they are having a period. Is this possible and do rabbits go through a menstrual cycle similar to us humans? Knowing that a lot of rabbit owners are seeking out the answer to this question, I have decided to conduct some research on the topic. I would like to present that here to you today.
So, do rabbits have periods? Rabbits do not have periods. Female rabbits are induced ovulators, meaning that they only release an egg in response to a suitable mate being around and during, or just prior, to mating. This is different from other types of ovulation, like human experience, which occurs cyclically.
There should therefore not be any blood around the reproductive organs.
If there is, it likely indicated a cut or a more severe medical problem.
Seeing blood on your rabbits is not a pleasant experience.
If this happens and you are not sure why, nor can you locate a cut or you have and it is relatively deep, your first port of call should always be to visit a vet.
That being said, there may be specific things you should be aware of before you do.
Let us now explore the topic further to see why rabbits do not ovulate and then some other reasons why a rabbit may bleed.
Rabbits have an induced ovulation, meaning that they respond to certain external stimuli. This includes suitable mates in close proximity or the physical act of a male rabbit (buck) mounting them.
This response is also known as being in ‘heat’ and it runs and can be maintained throughout the year. Rabbits are therefore ‘in season’ pretty much all year around and it is known that a rabbit can conceive a kit within 24 hours of giving birth.
Induced ovulation is not associated with any bleeding, so you should not expect to see any from a female rabbit during this phase.
Rabbits naturally follow what is known as an estrous cycle which contrasts the menstrual cycle that other mammals (like humans) are biologically aligned to.
Female Rabbits In Heat
Female rabbits are known to reach sexual maturity at a young age in their life. Typically, their first period of heat generally begins around the 4-6 months range.
Rabbits heat period is very responsive to the environment and conditions within which they live. So, periods of heat are either increased or reduced depending on the chances or likelihood of secual activity.
Rabbits should not produce or emit any blood during their estrous cycle. If they do, it is probable that they have a cut of some sort, or there is something more serious which will likely need a visit to the vet.
Symptoms A Female Rabbit Is In Heat
There are several symptoms that can indicate a female rabbit is in heat, and looking to conceive. Here are the main ones to look out for:
- They mark territory with their urine,
- Go through periods of restlessness and aggression
- Ride objects for sexual stimulation
- Physically, their reproductive organs appear more visible and may change color (red/brown)
If a rabbit was to get pregnant, the pregnancy will only last for around 30 days. At the end of this time, the rabbit will give birth to 1-5 kits (baby rabbits).
Rabbits will lactate after giving birth as a way to feed their kits.
It is also possible at this time, for the same rabbit to become pregnant once more. This is generally where the ‘breeding like rabbits’ saying derives from.
Rabbits breed very quickly and very often. It is generally very easy for them to conceive. Due to the size of each litter, you can soon see why rabbit populations begin to get out of control quite quickly.
For this reason, you need to be careful if you own male and female rabbits. If you keep them together they will likely breed and do so quickly.
Unless you are willing or able to keep them apart, sterilization is an option you will need to consider.
How Long Are Rabbits In Heat?
Rabbits are in heat for long periods of time throughout the year. In fact, it is pretty much constant once rabbits reach 4-6 months of age. This is exactly the reason why they breed so quickly and proficiently.
While rabbits may go through periods of being more sexually inclined, or less interested, this is impossible to predict and can change suddenly.
Now that we know that a female rabbit will not bleed and ‘have a period’, what might be the cause of other signs of red from this area?
One of the most common that rabbit owners notice is red urine. This can give off the false impression that a rabbit is having a period, or that something is wrong.
Thankfully, the majority of the time, red urine should not be a cause of concern.
What Color Is A Rabbits Pee?
Rabbit’s pee is normally a pale yellow to dark yellow, carrot orange, brown, or bright red. The factors involved that will cause the color to change mostly revolve around hydration and diet.
Diet is specifically the most common cause. Red urine is generally caused by a pigment from a plant food, particularly the colors of any vegetables that they are to consume.
Just like if a human was to eat beetroot, a rabbits urine can become discolored as the rabbit is passing the pigment through their systems.
However, if you notice that your rabbits urine turns white, it may indicate that they are consuming too much calcium through their diet. Overly dark urine can also indicate heat stress/dehydration.
In both cases, visiting the vet promptly is a necessity, where fluid therapy and other treatments will be used.
Why Is My Rabbit’s Urine Red?
Red urine does not generally imply a medical problem.
The Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents by Harkness and Wagner states the following within their well-researched works:
“Bloody urine is rare in rabbits and rodents. Many cases of ‘bloody’ urine turn out to be porphyrin-pigmented basic urine or a sanguineous vaginal discharge associated with uterine adenocarcinoma, polyps, or abortion”.
As we can see, for the most part, red urine is not the passing of the blood.
Red urine usually returns to a pale yellow color once the pigment has been removed from the rabbits system. This can range from a couple of days all the way through to a couple of weeks depending on the quantity and regularity of the offending pigment/plant material.
Strangely, not all rabbits will suffer from red urine. This is the case even if they are accessing the same food, water and treats.
Here are some of the most common causes of red urine:
- Antibiotic treatments
- Change in season,
- Consuming Fir Leaves,
- Consuming carrots, spinach or other veggies high in the beta carotene.
While observing red urine should not be a significant concern for most rabbit owners, there may be a more serious underlying condition for others which we will take a look at within the next section.
Why Would A Rabbit Bleed?
If you believe, or know that your rabbit is discharging blood, then first and foremost heading to the vets is likely the best thing to do. It may not always be a severe issue, but if it was to be time could be crucial.
A rabbit bleeding is likely caused be one of the following reasons:
- General cuts/trauma
- Bladder/Kidney/ Urinary Tract Infection
- Bladder/Kidney Stones
- Uterine Cancer
If you suspect the cause to be a cut, you will need to thoroughly check your rabbit(s) and their environment. Be sure to remove or alter their habitat so that no sharp objects or corners are able to cause harm.
Regarding the cut itself, you’ll need to make a decision upon how deep it is and how likely it will be to get infected. If its an open wound then stitches may be required by a vet.
If its a smaller wound, then you will need to keep an eye on it and ensure that it is naturally healing.
Bladder/Kidney/ Urinary Tract Infection
When red urine is observed, one of the most common responses is to suspect a bladder or urinary tract infection. However, observing blood in the urine is difficult, especially with the naked eye.
If you suspect a Bladder/Kidney/ Urinary Tract Infection, other behaviors will generally occur.
If your rabbit has kidney disease, you should look for signs of straining. This is one of the most visible signs.
Straining can be seen observed when your rabbit takes up an awkward position when they attempt to pee. Additionally, they may sit for long periods of time on the back of their feet and their tails pointing up to the sky.
If you notice this, you should change the litter box to identify whether they are able to physically pass any urine.
If you are able to see urine, even if its a couple of droplets then the issue is less severe. If they are unable to pass any urine at all then an emergency visit to the vet will be required. Either way you will need to get them checked out by a specialist.
If passing urine is very difficult or problematic, a urinalysis is generally required. If bleeding is shown alongside the straining, a urinary bladder infection will likely he diagnosed. In this case, an X-Ray and several tests will be required.
Whilst a severe, and rarer condition which could cause blood in the urine, this is possible. It usually occurs in older rabbits.
Here are the main signs and symptoms:
- Blood in the urine (hematuria) that originates in the uterus. Blood is not always present in every pee and appears periodically. Blood clots may be seen.
- Vaginal discharge – whether clear, thick, beige or blood tinged.
- Mastitis (mammary gland cysts) – cysts contain clear to cloudy fluid.
- Increased aggressiveness biting, scratching other rabbits
- Breeding females may begin to have smaller litter sizes, increased numbers of stillborn babies, and may become infertile or abandon their litters.
These symptoms usually come on and when it comes to cyst you will likely be able to observe/feel them.
If you notice any of these symptoms head to a vet straight away.
Rabbits do not have periods, nor will they ever discharge blood through this process. This does not mean that they cannot or will not conceive – quite the opposite!
Rabbits are some of the fastest breeding animals and pets. With a pregnancy that lasts for as little as 30 days, and the ability to conceive just 24 hours after giving birth, you need to be really careful when housing unspayed male and female rabbits together.
If you see signs of red from your rabbit, this can be from red, pigmented urine or actual bloody discharge.
For the former, it is not necessary to take your rabbit to the veterinarian. This pigment will not cause harm to your rabbit and will pass through their system in a matter of days/weeks. Its the result of certain foods, like carrots, which are high in pigments like beta-carotene.
However, if you suspect an infection, or even cancer, there will be other symptoms present including straining, general weakness, aggression and possibly even cysts.
Heading to a vet as soon as you can is the best thing you can do in these cases. The vet will be able to run numerous tests, including on the urine itself. They’ll be able to identify if their are any blockages or additional causes of concern and help your rabbit in these situatons.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.