Why won’t rabbits breed? (causes and solutions)

The saying goes, they breed like rabbits. But what if they don’t? Well, I am here to help you find out why and what to do about it! 

Why won’t rabbits breed? if rabbits don’t want to breed, it’s usually for one of the following reasons: 

  1. Underweight, 
  2. overweight
  3. too old, 
  4. too young,
  5. not in the mood
  6. inexperienced or stress,
  7. sick
  8. have little light, 
  9. due to high temperature and 
  10. Getting used to the environment

To find out more, let’s dive deeper.  

Suppose you have a problem with the rabbits that they don’t want to breed. It is almost always the doe that is not willing to mate. The buck rabbit is generally excited about breeding and pursues the doe. 

Learn how to raise your own quail and have an unlimited supply of eggs and meat.

Usually, the buck and the doe are in two separate cages. When you breed them, you put the doe into the buck’s cage. You must do it in that order because rabbit does are territorial. If you put the buck in the doe’s cage, the doe will want to defend her territory. She can get aggressive and injure the bucks seriously; they can even castrate the buck.

Let’s see what difficulties the rabbits can have with breeding and how to overcome them. 

Too young to breed

Each rabbit breed reaches sexual maturity at a different age, before which they can’t breed.

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The most popular mid-size breeds such as the Californian, New Zealand Whites, Silver Foxes, Champagne D’Argent, reach sexual maturity at around six months old. 

Bigger breeds like the Flemish Giant reach sexual maturity around seven months and smaller breeds at around five months.

Bucks usually reach sexual maturity about a month after does of the same breed.

Genetics, nutrition, and other conditions, and factors may also affect how soon each individual rabbit becomes sexually mature.

Too old to breed

Old age can also be a problem when it comes to breeding. But how do you know that a rabbit is getting too old?

For a meat rabbit doe, the decline in the number of babies is a good indicator that your sh is getting old.

For example, a rabbit doe has an average litter size of nine babies when she is in her peak maturity. As she grows old she starts having fewer babies and recuperates slower after giving birth.

Another telling sign that she is getting old is that she doesn’t take care of her babies anymore.

Most rabbit does start losing fertility at around four years of age. It’s a gradual process that could last months.

Rabbit bucks also show signs of decline in fertility at around four or five years of age. The lack of willingness to breed is a good indicator that they are becoming too old.

If you want to continue to breed rabbits pay attention to the above signs and replace the buck or the doe. 

Genetics and external circumstances both determine how soon a rabbit becomes too old.


Assuming that both the buck and the doe reached sexual maturity, inexperience can be another reason for not breeding. 

If it is first breeding for the doe, she might not know what to do and won’t lift for the buck or might be grumpy at first; vice versa, the male might not know what to do on the first occasion.

Give them time and multiple chances to learn the breeding process. They will learn eventually.

Lack of light

The amount of light animals get affects reproduction. 

Although to a lesser degree, the lack of light might negatively affect rabbits, making them unwilling to breed. This means in the wintertime when days are short, rabbits might be less willing to breed. 

You can add an artificial light source to provide enough light. As a rule of thumb 14 hours of light or more is ideal for breeding. 


Infections and diseases can cause rabbits not to want to breed.

Most often, it is vent diseases that cause this unwillingness to breed. Look for blisters or slow-healing sores in the genital region and sometimes even on lips and eyelids. Here is an excellent source to help you navigate: source

In most cases, this is curable and can be treated with antibiotics. You’re best off talking to your vet about the possible treatment.


Obese rabbits find it harder to move and they experience a lesser sexual appetite. Being overweight is one of the most common reasons why buck rabbits are not willing to pursue and mount the doe.

Make sure that the buck gets the right amount of feed every day.

Rabbits eat about 8 ounces of rabbit pellet food and as much hay as they want. If you notice that the pellet is too much, you can cut back. Check the feeder in the morning, and if there is pellet left, you can decrease the amount.

If your buck got fat and you want him to lose weight, you decrease the amount of food.

Although it is rare, a doe can also grow overweight even to the point of losing fertility. Thankfully this is not a permanent condition and can be regained with a proper diet and healthy weight.

My doe rabbit won’t breed

Doe rabbits, don’t come into heat as other animals do. They are induced ovulators which means that the act of mating will make them ovulate. There are no infertile periods for a doe. Whenever rabbits mate, the doe is fertile. 

If a sexually mature doe doesn’t want to mate there are a few things you can do to help her overcome the barrier.

Give her multiple chances

Rabbit does need to feel comfortable in order to mate. If a doe is scared or tense or feels under pressure she will be shy or grumpy to lift for the buck. This is quite common on the first few occasions and it might mean that she needs to spend more time in the buck’s cage.

Try putting her in twice a day once in the morning and once in the evening for ten-fifteen minutes. After 4 or 5 times she should feel comfortable enough to breed.

If that is not enough, you can:

Switch cages

Another helpful solution to make the doe feel safe is to switch cages for a day. 

You give the doe a chance to get familiar with the buck’s smell and with the new environment: the buck’s cage, where eventually the mating happens.

The following day you switch back the rabbits, and after a while, you bring the doe to the buck’s cage. The doe is already familiar with the environment and will feel safe and eventually breed.

Change environment

Another good way to make the doe release tension is by being letting her out. If you can let the doe out of the cage, let’s say, in a dog pen on the grass, that might help too. The rabbit will run around and have some fun. 

Some people found that putting the doe in a carrier cage and drive around was also helpful. 

Sometimes small changes in the environment can make a difference.

Diet supplements

In some cases adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a gallon of water or giving black oil sunflower seeds to the doe helps provide some nutrients that the doe needs to be open to mating.

My buck rabbit won’t breed

Although less common sometimes bucks are at fault for not breeding. This is usually down to the following reasons.


Being underweight can also cause unwillingness to breed.

A buck eats c. 8 ounces of pellet feed per day. Check the feeder in the morning, if it is empty and as soon as you fill up his feeder, he dives in, then this might be a sign that you should give him more to eat.

Increase the daily amount of feed pellet. 

Hot weather

Hot weather is tough on rabbits: they have fur, and it takes its toll on them.

Most of the time you will not notice it because the buck will pursue the doe just like on any other occasion when you breed them. But the buck becomes sterile above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometimes it is easier to notice because they even lose the willingness to mate.

If you want to breed your rabbits in the summer, you should try to do it either in the early morning or late evening when it isn’t that hot.

Bad experience

If a buck has had a bad experience with mating, he might not be willing to mate next time. 

Usually, this happens when a first breeder buck is put together with a more experienced and grumpy doe. Thus the buck might lose courage and willingness to mate.

Make sure that a first breeder buck breeds with a mild-tempered doe. 

Don’t worry if it has already happened; the buck can overcome the bad experience. Just make sure that the doe you intend to breed with is mild-tempered.


As you can see, there are multiple reasons why rabbits won’t breed and what to do about it. 

No matter how much research you do, there are always some rabbits (mostly does) that don’t want to breed, and you can’t change that. But before you get to that conclusion, I hope you find the tip that will help you solve the problem.


Sam is an outdoor enthusiast, who loves spending time in the garden and learning about animals. His motivating forces are his wife and 5 beautiful children. When he doesn't get it right, he will go and try again!

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