The easiest and most reliable way to determine pregnancy in the domestic rabbit is palpation. Palpation at twelve to fifteen days after a doe has been bred can determine whether the doe has conceived and will kindle at the end of the twenty-eight to thirty-two day gestation period.
Palpation is the term used when feeling for developing kits within the abdominal area using the thumb and fingers of one hand. This technique can be difficult to learn and may take practice.
- With the doe facing you, place her on a flat, non-slip surface at a height where you can rest your elbow comfortably.
- Gently, but firmly, hold the head of the doe with one hand.
- Place your other hand, palm up, under the abdominal area just in front of the rear legs.
- With your elbow resting on the table, raise the back portion of the rabbit to the point that the rear legs are slightly off the table.
- With the doe relaxed and resting in the palm of your hand, place your thumb and fingers on opposite sides of the abdominal cavity.
- Explore this area by gently applying pressure upward with your fingers and inward with your thumb.
- Once a kit is discovered the palpation process should be discontinued.
If the doe should become tense, leave your hand in position and stop the process. Once the doe relaxes you can continue the search. The developing kits will be the size of a grape or marble and can be located in front of the pelvis and up and down the abdominal cavity.
Be cautious, thorough, and allow time for your fingers to become familiar with the abdominal cavity.
The palpation sites are in the exact same position regardless of the size or breed of the rabbit.