For new rabbit parents, there are many factors to consider when bringing a new fluffy friend into your home. One of these major considerations is deciding whether to get a male or female rabbit.
While both make great companions, there are some notable differences between the two sexes in both personality and biology.
In this male rabbit vs female rabbit comparison, I’ll discuss everything you need to know about rabbit genders and their associated personalities, as well as the pros and cons of owning both.
As with most pets, you can never really determine a rabbit’s friendliness just by sex alone. With enough care, love, and attention, both male and female rabbits can be equally friendly.
That said, it’s often believed that male rabbits are naturally friendlier than female rabbits.
Unlike female rabbits, male rabbits are less prone to suffer from sudden bouts of moodiness or grumpiness and tend to be less territorial with fewer destructive habits.
For this reason, male rabbits are often the recommended choice for first-time rabbit caretakers.
So if you’re searching for a snuggly, social, or attention-seeking rabbit, you might want to opt for a male rabbit rather than a female rabbit.
Female rabbits tend to be bigger than male rabbits of the same size and breed, but the difference isn’t really all that noticeable. Barring a few species, most rabbits are nearly identical in size and weight regardless of sex.
Interestingly though, female rabbits are typically stronger and more aggressive than male rabbits, especially when it comes to mating and protecting their young.
Again, it all comes down to instinct and biology. When female rabbits reach sexual maturity, they undergo physical and psychological personality changes to help them ward off threats and defend their kits.
Male rabbits also undergo some changes when mature, but not as much as female rabbits. They tend to be calmer, more relaxed, and more submissive than females even as they reach the point of maturity.
There’s a surprising number of gender-bending animals in the animal kingdom, from Clownfish to Bearded Dragons to several species of snakes. But can rabbits do the same?
The answer probably won’t surprise you: no, rabbits don’t change genders. It’s physically and genetically impossible for a rabbit to spontaneously change genders.
Though some might find this question silly, it’s actually a genuine curiosity for some. Though rabbits aren’t completely monomorphic (i.e., showing little or no variation between sexes), they’re one of those rare mammal species whose gender is quite difficult to tell.
Rabbits get regularly misidentified especially when young, which sparked the controversy that they spontaneously change genders at some point during their development—much like chickens.
The bottom line here is that rabbits born a buck will die a buck, and rabbits born a doe will die a doe. They won’t change genders no matter what happens.
Male rabbits and female rabbits are difficult to tell apart because unlike most mammals, they don’t have major differences in appearance.
Even professionals make mistakes in identifying them, especially when young. So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t identify your rabbit’s gender just by looking at them.
In general, a rabbit’s gender becomes easier to identify at around four weeks old. It’s at this point that their basic parts become more or less developed.
Here’s how to tell the sex of a rabbit:
Rabbit testicles are visible on the outside of the body, located just in the groin between the back legs.
Unlike dogs with round testicles, rabbit testicles are narrow and long, almost torpedo-shaped. These torpedo-shaped bulges are almost entirely covered in fur and slightly purple in color.
Though all male rabbits are born with testicles, you can only reliably detect said testicles at the age of 10 when they’re mostly developed.
It’s important to note that frightened or nervous rabbits can make their testicles “disappear” by tucking them into their abdomen.
If you don’t see them the first time, give the rabbit some time to relax and calm down. Talk to the rabbit, stroke it, and give it some treats. Then, check a second time.
If the testicles still don’t appear, the rabbit might either be neutered or female. The only way to make sure is by checking the genital openings.
The best way to determine a rabbit’s sex is to simply check the genital opening.
Like most animals, rabbits have either a vulva or a penis.
However, both parts are tucked into a crevice just underneath the anus and thus barely visible. You’ll actually have to open the slit beneath the anus to see what the rabbit is equipped with.
When you flip a rabbit over, you’ll notice a pink, figure-eight shape bump just between its hind legs. This bump, also known as a vent, is seen in both sexes. This is where rabbits hide their private parts.
To “reveal” said private parts, follow these steps:
- Flip the rabbit onto its back and gently but firmly hold it on your lap or flat table. If using a table, make sure it’s low enough so that if the rabbit tries to get away, it won’t injure itself.
- Using your index finger and middle finger, pinch the rabbit’s tail in a way that’ll reveal its anus.
- While still holding the tail, press your thumb downwards on the vent area. Doing so will open the vent and reveal the rabbit’s parts.
If the part is tubular, protruding, and surrounded by a circular opening, you’re looking at a buck. If the opening stretches to a V-shaped slit and doesn’t protrude even if you push a little harder with your thumb, you’re holding a doe.
As mentioned earlier, male and female rabbits are nearly identical in appearance. Thus, you should never rely on physical characteristics alone when identifying the sex of a rabbit. If you had to for whatever reason, here are some general attributes to note:
- Female rabbits tend to be slightly bigger and heavier than male rabbits
- Female rabbits have rounder faces than male rabbits
- Male rabbits, especially adult male rabbits, tend to have heavier skulls than female rabbits
Remember that these points don’t apply to all rabbit species and thus shouldn’t be used to identify a rabbit’s sex. They’re more of a guide rather than a definitive way to sexing rabbits.
If in doubt, check the genital area or take the rabbit to an experienced vet for verification.
There’s no correct answer to this question, as both genders have their own pros and cons. Let’s discuss these individually:
Generally, male rabbits are slightly easier to care for than female rabbits because of their friendlier, calmer demeanor.
Male rabbits make are the “better” choice because they’re more affectionate than female rabbits. This means that you can play, cuddle, and pick them up more often than rabbits of the opposite sex.
Due to these qualities, male rabbits tend to be a more suitable choice for families with children. Such characteristics mean more bonding experience, which is what pet ownership is all about.
There’s also the fact that male rabbits can’t get pregnant, so you aren’t at risk for surprise babies if he somehow escapes his enclosure and mates with a wild female rabbit.
Despite the positives of owning a male rabbit, there’s a considerable number of negatives that are further exacerbated with unneutered rabbits.
For one, they have an extremely active libido, so much so that it can actually be indecent at times.
Their sexual urges aren’t only restricted to female rabbits; they’d hump anything and anyone from your leg to your cat to your stuffed toys. It can be funny at first, but it can quickly become overbearing.
Another negative aspect of male rabbits is spraying. Neutering usually fixes this problem but it doesn’t always go away 100%. They’d pee anywhere and everywhere to make sure everyone in the house knows where their territory is.
This attribute alone makes them less desirable than female rabbits.
Here are some pros and cons of owning a male rabbit:
- Friendlier personality
- Gets along with children
- Less wary of humans
- Less territorial
- Less expensive to neuter
- Uncontrollable libido and mounting behaviors
- Spraying that neutering sometimes doesn’t fix
- Emits a musky scent when they want to mate, especially when not neutered
Although it’s typically accepted that female rabbits are less affectionate than male rabbits, this doesn’t mean that all female rabbits reject the friendship of their owners. Female rabbits can actually be quite sweet and gentle, it just takes a bit of work and trust to get there.
Personality-wise, female rabbits tend to be grumpier and a bit more aggressive and territorial than male rabbits. This is mostly because of hormones and their instinct to protect.
Though some find this an immediate turn-off (like some people do with aloof cats), quite a few owners actually like this attribute in their pets. Some owners find the gradual development of distrust to affection quite rewarding, like a special gift entrusted only to them.
As for disadvantages, there are a few to be aware of.
If unspayed, female rabbits are susceptible to diseases such as uterine, ovarian, and mammary cancers.
These cancers are almost always fatal and extremely expensive to cure.
It also puts the rabbit at risk of pregnancy, which most owners want to avoid because rabbits can have up to 15 kits at a time.
Even if the doe is spayed, false pregnancies can occur.
False pregnancies aren’t an immediate threat to their health, but they can cause female rabbits to become more aggressive towards you and the rabbits around them. This can result in bite wounds, abscesses, and other injuries.
Another disadvantage, though less serious than the aforementioned ones, is the natural instinct of female rabbits to burrow in tight spaces.
So if you keep a female rabbit in the house, you might find them making a mess of your carpet or hiding in random tight spots that you can’t reach. This behavior is often observed in unspayed females, but it can happen with spayed females too.
Here are some pros and cons of owning a female rabbit:
- Doesn’t smell as much as male rabbits
- Adventurous and independent personality
- Gradual trust feels more rewarding
- Spaying is more expensive than neutering
- Risk of cancer and pregnancies if not spayed
- Strong territorial tendencies
- Destructive digging/burrowing habits
Though they appear cute, fluffy, and harmless, rabbits have strong personalities that can be overwhelming to some first-time owners. Gender can play a part in these personalities.
Male rabbits are said to be friendlier, calmer, and less territorial than female rabbits, while female rabbits tend to be independent and less needy.
But at the end of the day, it really all just depends on how they’re raised. Keep your options open and consider all the biological and instinctual factors first before getting a rabbit of either sex.