Click on the picture below
to learn about the importance of palpation on YouTube:

Click on the picture below
to better prepare you to palpate your rabbit on YouTube:












Gestation - The Time During the Pregnancy
The length of the gestation period, the time during which the kits are developing within the doe, will vary depending on the breed and variety, number of kits, total weight of the kits, and other environmental and physiological factors. Any does that are carrying a small number of kits (1-3 for a standard sized rabbit) will tend to have a longer gestation period (32-35 days) compared to the does that have larger normal sized litters (9-12 for a standard sized rabbit).

This is a technique used to determine if the rabbit is pregnant after having bred to a buck. Palpation improves the efficiency and production of the does because it allows the breeder to know if the rabbit is undergoing gestation or not, rather than waiting the 28-32 days of gestation to see if she gives birth. If the doe is not pregnant then she can be re-mated, allowing less time to be wasted.

When to palpate
Fourteen days after mating, a doe can be palpated to determine if she “took”, a term used in the rabbit trade to mean the doe became pregnant. Using the palpation technique, the rabbit breeder "feels" the developing kits by gently pressing through the skin on the abdominal wall of the doe using the thumb and fingers. The kits will feel about the size of grapes within the abdominal cavity of the doe. Any doe that is pregnant will require a gradual increase in feed in order to supply the additional nutrients for the developing kits. Any doe that is palpated and determined to not be pregnant, or open, can be re-mated immediately.

How to palpate
Be very careful when palpating a doe. You do not want to press too hard on the doe's abdomen since it could injure her or the kits. However, it is important to maintain a strong secure grip on your rabbit in order to properly facilitate this process and ensure your safety. A good restraint technique to use when palpating a doe is the “hypnotism” technique. This technique is explained in the Choosing Your Rabbit activity.

Below is an outline, followed by a video that shows you how to palpate a doe. You should palpate the rabbit with your dominant hand, the hand you write with, and hold it with your other hand. You should palpate your rabbit on a sturdy surface such as a table (your grooming table could be used for this purpose).

  1. Grip the scruff, the area of skin on the back of your rabbit’s neck, firmly.
  2. Place your other hand below the rabbit, gently griping towards the front of the abdomen.
  3. Gently grip and relax your hand feeling the space in the abdomen as you move it towards the back of the rabbit.
  4. You will feel materials in the rabbit’s abdomen, kits will feel approximately the size of grapes, and fecal material will feel harder. Remember to not press too hard - you don't want to injure the kits.