Those cute little Easter bunnies that you picked out for your kids may mature and bring several surprises your way. Young bunnies that you were told are females may turn out to be males if their gender has not been properly identified before they reach maturity. The knowledge that you actually have a male and female may only come when the mature female is expecting baby bunnies. But you can determine if a six-week-old domestic bunny is male or female with minimal trouble.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Disposable gloves
Put on a long-sleeved shirt to protect yourself from scratches. Wear a pair of disposable gloves when checking a rabbit that is being sold to you. (Rabbits carry conditions such as ringworm, mange, respiratory disease and diarrhoea which can be contagious for healthy rabbits and humans.)
Hold a small bunny in the palm of your hand with the head pointing away from you. If you have a low table you can place the rabbit on its back or rump during the examination. A rambunctious bunny can be placed on a towel to keep it from sliding off the table. Hold a large bunny gently with its head in one hand while cradling the bottom area in the crook of your arm near the elbow. Cradle it firmly to prevent it from falling from your grasp and getting injured.
Part the fur of the rabbit in the area near the anus. (This is called the vent area of the rabbit's body, where the genitalia are located. At six weeks the male testes will not be easily visible as they do not descend until the rabbit is three to four months old.)
Look for a pink area in the skin near the anus. This is the vent.
Gently push back on the small vent area of skin with your gloved thumb and forefinger to move the skin. The vent area on the female bunny will have a pronounced slit or line with pink bands of colour on either side. A blunt tube of white skin without a line will identify the bunny as a male.
Tips and warnings
- For the bunnies' protection, it is best to wait until they are weaned before handling them, or the mother may reject them because they carry the scent of a human.
- Do not try to push on the area around the genitalia of a prepubescent male rabbit; this is dangerous for the animal. If you have problems determining gender, take the animal to a veterinarian rather than risk permanent injury to the rabbit.
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