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Rabbit Pregnancy Test

Rabbit Pregnancy Test: A Comprehensive Guide


Determining pregnancy in rabbits is crucial for proper breeding management and ensuring the well-being of both the doe (female rabbit) and her litter. While various methods exist, the rabbit pregnancy test remains the most reliable and accurate technique. This comprehensive guide will delve into the principles, procedures, and interpretation of rabbit pregnancy tests, empowering breeders and veterinarians with the knowledge to effectively manage rabbit pregnancies.

Principles of Rabbit Pregnancy Test

The rabbit pregnancy test relies on the detection of a hormone known as relaxin, which is produced by the corpus luteum (a temporary gland formed after ovulation) during pregnancy. Relaxin causes the ligaments around the pubic bone to relax and widen, allowing for the passage of the litter during birth. This relaxation can be palpated manually, providing a tangible indication of pregnancy.

Procedure for Rabbit Pregnancy Test


  • Gloves
  • Lubricant (optional)


  1. Restraint: Gently restrain the doe in a comfortable and secure position, either on her back or on her side.
  2. Preparation: Apply a small amount of lubricant to the index finger if desired, to facilitate insertion.
  3. Palpation: Insert the index finger into the doe’s vagina and gently probe the pubic bone, which is located approximately 1-2 inches from the vaginal opening.
  4. Assessment: Palpate the pubic bone for any widening or relaxation. A noticeable separation between the two halves of the bone indicates a positive pregnancy test.

Interpretation of Results

  • Positive: A positive pregnancy test is characterized by a distinct widening or separation of the pubic bone, typically exceeding 2 millimeters.
  • Negative: A negative pregnancy test shows no significant widening or relaxation of the pubic bone.
  • Inconclusive: In some cases, the pubic bone may exhibit slight widening but not enough to confirm pregnancy. This may warrant a repeat test at a later date.

Timing of Rabbit Pregnancy Test

The optimal time to perform a rabbit pregnancy test is between 10 and 14 days after breeding. Earlier testing may yield false negatives due to insufficient relaxin production, while later testing may increase the risk of miscarriage due to excessive uterine manipulation.

Frequency of Rabbit Pregnancy Test

A single pregnancy test is generally sufficient to confirm pregnancy. However, in cases of inconclusive results or suspected false negatives, a repeat test may be performed 2-3 days later.

Accuracy of Rabbit Pregnancy Test

The rabbit pregnancy test is highly accurate when performed correctly and at the appropriate time. Studies have reported accuracy rates of up to 95%. However, it is important to note that false negatives and false positives can occur, particularly if the test is performed too early or too late.

False Negatives

  • Testing too early before sufficient relaxin production
  • Incomplete relaxation of the pubic bone due to improper palpation technique
  • Early pregnancy loss

False Positives

  • Recent breeding without pregnancy (due to hormonal fluctuations)
  • Obesity or other factors causing pelvic ligament relaxation
  • Uterine abnormalities

Factors Affecting Accuracy

  • Experience of the examiner: Skilled and experienced breeders or veterinarians are more likely to obtain accurate results.
  • Age of the doe: Older does may have less pronounced pubic bone relaxation.
  • Breed: Certain breeds may exhibit variations in the degree of pubic bone widening.
  • Health status: Ill or stressed does may have altered hormone levels, affecting the accuracy of the test.

Alternatives to Rabbit Pregnancy Test

While the rabbit pregnancy test is the most widely used method, other alternatives exist:

  • Ultrasound: Provides a definitive diagnosis of pregnancy but requires specialized equipment and trained personnel.
  • Hormonal assays: Detects relaxin or progesterone levels in the blood or urine, but may be less accurate than the manual palpation method.
  • Abdominal palpation: Experienced breeders may be able to palpate the enlarged uterus through the doe’s abdomen, but this method is less reliable than the pregnancy test.


The rabbit pregnancy test remains the most practical and reliable method for determining pregnancy in rabbits. By understanding the principles, procedures, and interpretation of the test, breeders and veterinarians can effectively manage rabbit pregnancies, ensuring the well-being of both the doe and her litter. While alternatives exist, the rabbit pregnancy test continues to be the gold standard for pregnancy diagnosis in rabbits.

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