How to Tell How Old a Baby Rabbit Is: Learn Clues from Rabbit Life Stages
There are many different reasons why you might need to know how to tell how old a baby rabbit is.
For example, let’s say you come across a nest of baby rabbits and there is no mother rabbit anywhere around. You might wonder how to tell how old the babies are and this will help you decide what to do next.
Another example might be if you are thinking about adopting a baby rabbit from a local animal rescue shelter. You will want to know what to plan for and how to meet your new rabbit’s needs.
Of course, your rabbit can’t speak and tell you their age. So in this article, we take a close look at other methods you can use to figure out how old your rabbit is.
How to Tell How Old a Baby Rabbit Is
As Wildlife Rescue Texas explains, baby rabbits grow up quickly.
This makes it easier to figure out the age of a very young rabbit. Every single week of life brings important changes that you can learn to identify. Read on to learn about the life stages of baby rabbits and telltale signs of a young rabbit’s age.
Learn About How to Tell a Rabbit’s Age
In this YouTube video, an expert tells you why many of the so-called reliable ways to tell a rabbit’s age are actually not reliable at all.
You will also learn about some surprising ways that animal shelter professionals often use to determine an age range for a newly relinquished rabbit and what questions to ask if you are considering adopting a shelter rabbit.
Variances in the Life Stages of a Baby Rabbit from Birth to Adult
As the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) points out, there are 49 different breeds of domestic rabbits in the United States today.
PBS Nature further explains that there are 29 species of rabbits in the wild that have been identified and cataloged around the world.
Why do we take the time to mention this here? There can be some important differences in life stage markers from one breed or species of rabbit to the next.
This can be especially important to keep in mind when it comes to judging a baby rabbit’s age by looking at its size. Different rabbit breeds and species come in an amazing diversity of sizes, making size one of the least accurate markers of age.
We are not going to attempt to cover the full spectrum of rabbit life stage variations here.
However, this general information can help you get a better sense of how old a baby rabbit is regardless of the breed or species you are dealing with.
Baby Rabbit Stages of Growth
As Oxbow Animal Health points out, all rabbits go through three distinct life stages: young, adult and senior.
In the same way, a young rabbit will pass through three distinct development stages: newborn, adolescence and teenager.
In this section, we walk you through the general signs that a very young rabbit may be at one of these key stages in its development process.
Baby rabbits at birth through one-month-old
Melbourne Rabbit Clinic explains that baby rabbits are actually – oddly – called “kittens.”
These first four weeks of life are truly action-packed for a very young kitten.
All kittens are born blind and deaf. Their eyes and ears stay closed until around days 10 to 12. They are born with very little fur and are completely dependent on the mama rabbit to stay warm, fed, and protected.
It takes a week before the fur starts to grow in. It takes three weeks before a young rabbit can start to produce what are called caecotrophs, or night poops. The young rabbit will eat these and will also start to eat solid food around this time.
Baby rabbits from one through two months old
A baby rabbit will start to look like a small adult rabbit by around the age of four weeks old. At six weeks, the baby rabbit is self-reliant in all ways.
Baby rabbits bred to be companions to people typically go to their new forever families at around eight weeks of age.
Baby rabbits from two through three months old
The second to third months of a young rabbit’s life is also action-packed in that 12 weeks old is when puberty hits. This is always the right time to separate male and female rabbits unless you want lots of baby rabbits right away!
Baby rabbits from four to six months old
A baby rabbit bred for the pet trade may be neutered or spayed starting around the age of four to six months old.
At this age, un-fixed rabbits will begin breeding behaviors.
Baby rabbits from six to 12 months old
By the time a baby rabbit reaches the age of six months, they will be near or at their adult weight depending on the breed or species weight range.
Larger rabbit breeds/species may take up to 12 months to reach their full adult weight.
Baby Rabbit Behavior Stages and What to Watch For
In addition to helpful things to watch for developmentally, there are certain behaviors that may be a good indicator of a baby rabbit’s general age.
A newborn baby rabbit will not be able to see, hear or keep itself warm. These tiny babies will be completely dependent on their mother and will huddle close together for warmth in the nest.
10 to 12-day old rabbits
From the age of 10 to 12 days old, rabbits are getting their eyesight and their hearing. They are also starting to rapidly grow fur so they can warm themselves.
12 to 18-day old rabbits
Start around the age of 12 days old, a baby rabbit will become more curious about its surroundings and will want to explore near the nest site.
A rabbit this young won’t wander far, but will certainly be starting to stretch its legs and look around a bit.
19 to 42-day old rabbits
Starting around day 19 of life, young rabbits will be able to live outside the nesting box full-time.
During this period of time, a baby rabbit will be weaned from nursing and be learning to eat solid food.
42 to 49-day old rabbits
By day 42, a baby rabbit is usually capable of caring for its own needs in full. This includes eating solid food on their own.
12 to 24-week old rabbits
As baby rabbits become sexually mature, you will start to see very distinctive behaviors from males and females.
Male rabbits develop the charming habit of spraying strong-smelling urine, which is one way of seeking a mate.
Female rabbits can become territorial and defensive and may even growl, bite or charge at people. You may also see a female rabbit start to engage in nest building or nest guarding.
24 week to one-year-old rabbits
Rabbits in the last phase of kittenhood are tying up loose ends internally and behaviorally, preparing to become adults in every sense of the word.
It is not uncommon to see behavioral and mood shifts as hormone levels increase during puberty. This can cause a rabbit to be sweet and cuddly one day and aggressive the next.
You can also expect to see continued weight gain, especially if the rabbit comes from a larger breed or species that takes longer to reach full weight.
Rabbit Age Tricks That Do Not Work
As you might recall from the YouTube video you watched in an earlier section here, there are some tricks you might have heard of that actually do not work well to determine a baby rabbit’s age.
This is because there are lots of other factors besides biological age that can contribute to these variances from one rabbit to the next.
Looking at the condition of a rabbit’s teeth, for example, may say more about the living environment or food type than about the rabbit’s chronological age.
Just looking at a rabbit’s size and weight is also not a reliable indicator. For example, most female rabbits are going to be bigger than males regardless of breed or species.
Also, some species or breeds take longer to reach their full adult weight and size than do others. And diet and living space can also influence how much a rabbit weighs.
What to Do If You Don’t Know Your Rabbit’s Age
Figuring out an accurate approximate age for your rabbit can be helpful in many ways, especially when it comes to veterinary care.
If you have no idea where to start, the best resource is going to be your veterinarian or an experienced rabbit breeder who can consult with you and look for helpful age clues.