Rabbits are among the most interesting creatures out there, as they’re known for their funny behaviors that always grab our attention. One of the most popular and bizarre of these behaviors in male rabbits (also known as “bucks”) falling over after mating.
This weird action raised concern among many rabbit owners on whether it’s natural or their bucks need to see a doctor. If you’re curious about this reaction, this article is for you!
So why do male rabbits fall over after mating? Most male rabbits will grunt and fall over immediately after mating, which happens due to sudden tensing and relaxing in addition to exhaustion. Luckily, it’s a natural reaction that you shouldn’t be worried about and is also considered a sign of successful mating!
In today’s guide, we’ll take a deeper look into this phenomenon as well as other important notes about rabbit mating that you should keep in mind. Let’s dive in!
Why Do Male Rabbits Fall Over After Mating?
If you happen to watch rabbits breed before, you’ll notice this funny behavior that male rabbits do while mating.
Once male rabbits successfully finish their mating process, they immediately freeze and fall over, either to the side or on their back, all the while grunting for a few seconds. In some cases, the rabbit might even close its eyes for a few seconds as if it has fainted.
The reason why all that happens is because male rabbits lose control of their hind legs during and after mating. During that time, the male rabbit engages in an involuntary systemic tensing of the muscles where they contract and relax progressively.
Once the male rabbit’s job is done and they stop the systematic tensing of their muscles, it takes some time for their body to readjust and regain control of their hind legs, which is why they fall over.
In addition to losing control of their muscle, male rabbits exert a lot of energy to perform their progressively quick tensing and relaxing of muscles.
This drains their immediate energy reserves very quickly, so the rabbit falls over due to exhaustion and weakness as they wait for their bodies to produce more energy.
Should You Be Worried When Rabbits Fall Over After Mating?
Rabbits are known for their remarkably high reproductive rate when compared to other mammals, so this phenomenon is pretty easy to witness if you’re a rabbit breeder.
But for some people who see it for the first few times, they might be worried that the male rabbit is unhealthy or in danger, especially because male rabbits might give a loud cry before they’re finished, as if they’re in pain.
However, you shouldn’t worry about your rabbit falling over after mating, as this phenomenon is completely natural and happens to nearly all male rabbits after a successful coupling.
When the male rabbit engages in a successful mating and produces sperm, several hormones are also released in their bloodstream during that time.
Some of these hormones force the rabbit’s body into a state of immediate relaxation to allow them to regain their energy and protect them from extreme exhaustion.
In other words, you shouldn’t worry about your male rabbit if it falls over after mating. In fact, many breeders even believe that it’s a sign of successful mating, but more about that in the following sections.
How Long Does it Take the Male Rabbit to Get Back on Its Feet?
As a general rule, you should expect your buck to get back on its feet in less than a minute. However, the exact time needed by a rabbit to get up and behave normally can vary from one rabbit to the other.
For example, some male rabbits will fall over and get back up almost instantaneously while others may lay down for up to a full minute or even two.
Not only that, but some rabbits regain their energy immediately after getting up while others might get up on a few stages, where they spend some time sitting upright before moving around again.
In other words, while most rabbits should get back on their feet in about 20 to 30 seconds, a few rabbits might take a little bit longer to behave normally again.
While genetics can play a significant role in controlling the time needed for a rabbit to get up, other factors can also have an impact, such as:
- Level of Exhaustion: The longer a buck takes to get the job done, the more energy depleted, which may cause them to require a little while longer to recover.
- Buck’s Diet: Mating is a resource and energy demanding process, so having a low-energy diet can prolong the recovery period after falling over
What About Female Rabbits?
A female rabbit, also known as a “doe”, is also quite exhausted after mating, which is why they’re usually less energetic after mating.
However, since female rabbits don’t exert the same amount of effort that males do while mating, they’re rarely too exhausted to fall over after mating.
Some breeders believe that female rabbits are less active after mating in order to increase the chances of successful breeding. So, all in all, females are much less likely to fall over, freeze, or faint after mating like males.
Do Rabbits Make Sounds When They Mate?
Rabbits make a wide range of noises when they’re mating, these noises vary between a buck and a doe. For example, bucks will often grunt and honk while females might be growling and humming.
Ideally, the different sounds made while mating isn’t always an indication of anything, although they can also be associated with excitement.
The loud grunt that the male makes before falling off is also a sign of finishing the mating process.
Is Falling Over After Mating a Guaranteed Sign of Successful Mating?
Some people might believe that falling over is a sign of guaranteed success when it comes to rabbit breeding, and while this is true in many situations, it’s not always the case. In fact, not falling over after mating is also not a sign of failure.
To call a rabbit mating a success, female rabbits must be cooperative, as they need to lift their hindquarters up to make it easier for the bucks to do it right.
Some rabbit breeders will also check the female’s vulva to ensure a successful mating. They also help the male by getting the female tail out of the way and setting the female down while moving her hindquarters up.
Is It Normal If Male Rabbits Fall Over Without Breeding?
There are other reasons why a rabbit might fall over or collapse without breeding. However, most of these reasons are due to certain conditions and disorders.
This includes conditions such as Floppy Bunny Syndrome, which is a neurological condition that causes an occasional onset of paralysis in the hind legs of a rabbit with general weakness.
There are also several other reasons why a rabbit collapses occasionally, such as dehydration, infections, malnutrition, over-exposure to the sun, and more.
Unlike falling over after mating, general weakness and falling over without mating should be taken seriously and requires immediate medical attention.
How Often Can a Male Rabbit Mate Safely?
Some new rabbit breeders might be worried that they’re over-exhausting their bucks. However, a mature male rabbit is able to mate once every day for a very long time without negatively affecting its fertility levels.
In other words, as long as your buck experiences the mating once a day, you don’t have to worry about giving him rest days.
However, if you use your buck to breed multiple female rabbits (about 1 to 5 does) within a small window of time (a couple of days for example), you might want to keep them off for a couple more days so that they’re not too exhausted or lower their chances of breeding successfully.
Of course, if you’re servicing multiple does with the same buck, it’s quite important that you keep him well fed and relaxed so that the buck is able to guarantee you good results.
Keep in mind that it’s perfectly natural for a male rabbit to service up to 5 females, as large scale and highly experienced rabbit breeders can actually mate up to 10 or 15 does with the same buck.
Other Signs of Successful Rabbit Breeding
As previously mentioned, falling over isn’t the only sign you should be on the lookout for if you want a successful mating. If you want to ensure breeding, here are some extra signs that you should also check:
Both females and males will make noises while mating. However, males may also make a noticeably loud call after mating, which sounds like grunting or even squealing.
This one isn’t necessarily happening for all males but it’s usually very noticeable when it happens.
During mating and after mating and getting up, male rabbits will often thump the floor. However, this thumping is better noticed when mating happens in cages because the clunking of metal after thumping gives it away.
After successful mating, the female tends to stay static for some time and most much less than before mating. Although science is yet to explain why this happens, it’s believed by many that females does this to increase the chances of successful breeding.
This video is one of the best examples of most of the previously mentioned signs, as it displays the mating noises made by both the buck and the doe as well as the thumping and the female’s tendency to stay static for the most part.
When Are Rabbits Ready to Mate?
The answer to this question depends on the breed of rabbits in question. Ideally, the smaller the rabbit breed, the quicker it matures.
For example, a small breed would fully mature at the young age of 4 to 5 months while a larger breed might take up to 6 to 8 months to be ready.
How to Tell That Your Rabbits Are Ready to Mate?
When rabbits are in heat, especially in breeding seasons of spring and summer, they’ll show their restlessness and tendencies to accept the company of other rabbits.
Females also have a very noticeable sign when they’re in heat, as their vulvas become red and swollen, opposite to the pale white counterpart when they’re not.
When a buck mates with a female in heat, chances of breeding become significantly higher, so you have to keep that in mind.
7 Tips for a Successful Rabbit Breeding
If you want to increase your chances of having baby bunnies after letting your rabbits mate, here are some extra tips for a successful rabbit breeding:
- Buy a proper sized cage to encourage your rabbits to mate
- Bring the female to the male because females are quite territorial, so bringing a male into their territory may not end with successful breeding.
- Raise the female’s tail to check its vulva for a successful mating
- Allow the rabbits to breed early in the morning, as these are the times when females are most cooperative and ready to mate
- Consider mating the same male with the same female again the following day
- Provide your rabbits with a fertility boosting diet, which is a balanced one containing all the necessary nutrients, such as proteins, amino acids, fats for energy, vitamins, minerals, etc.
- Avoid overfeeding your bucks and does, as overweight rabbits have lower fertility rates
With that said, you now know why male rabbits fall over after mating. As you can see, rabbits are very quirky and funny animals, so it’s no surprise that they have some interesting moves, even while mating.
The grunt and fall over after mating are actually one of the most common signs of successful breeding (in most cases) and it happens naturally due to sudden tensing and relaxing of their muscles as well as exhaustion.
The good news is that it’s nothing to worry about and your buck should be back on its feet in less than a minute, so you don’t have to worry about it.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.