Do Rabbits Have Periods? The Surprising Truth.


Picture of a Red Moon To Suggest A Period

My family has been raising rabbits for decades and one of the common questions we get is about female rabbit periods and how they conceive. These questions are often prompted because bunny’s owner has seen colored pee that suggests blood, but is this really a rabbit menstrual period?

So, do rabbits have periods? Surprisingly, rabbits do not have periods. Instead, rabbits are Induced Ovulators which is vastly different than what we normally think of in mammal reproduction.

Still, many rabbit lovers have seen that colored urine which they mistake for signs of their doe’s period. Let’s dig in a little bit and figure out what is really going on.

How Do Rabbits Come Into Heat, If They Don’t Have Periods?

As I mentioned above, rabbits are one of the few animals that are Induced Ovulators { Research from NIH.gov }.

Other Induced Ovulator animals include:

  • Voles
  • Ferrets
  • Camels
  • Cats!

But what does ‘Induced Ovulator’ mean with respect to these rabbits and these other animals?

Induced Ovulators are mammals that ovulate simply by the act of copulation (kids, you’re going to have to talk to your folks about that one).

What this means is that a doe (a female rabbit) can ovulate and conceive as soon as she finishes being pregnant (gives birth). To be clear, a rabbit can have a lot of litters each year if a male has access to her immediately following the birth of a litter of her babies.

This is one of the many reasons that it’s very important to separate your male rabbit (the buck) from your female rabbit (the doe) as she nears the day that she’ll give birth to her litter of bunnies.

Why is Your Rabbits Pee Red if it’s Not A Period?

There are countless reasons that your pet rabbit’s urine could have excessive pigment that could range in color from dark yellow, to orange, and even to bright red.

You can’t blame a rabbit lover for freaking out at least a little bit if they see such odd colors in their bunny’s urine.

Note that both female and male rabbits can have discolored urine, including bright red urine, because this bright red rabbit urine is not a sign of a bunny’s period!

There are many potential causes for rabbit to have discolored urine. The most common causes include:

  • Diet
  • Changes in Diet
  • Stress
  • Heat
  • Cold
  • Changes in Temperature

As you can see, the causes of discolored pee in rabbits are numerous and common, as is shades of discolored urine. This list doesn’t even include all of the potential causes, just the most common!

To put your mind at ease, a rabbit having red urine is not uncommon! As a matter of fact, it’s quite common.

On the other hand, actual bloody urine is uncommon.

All that said, I also have to tell you that it’s sadly pretty hard to tell the difference discolored urine and blood in urine without the proper testing tools that would be available from your veterinarian.

So When Should You Take Your Bunny To Your Veterinarian When They Have Red in Their Pee?

It’s probably not blood, but if you see any other symptoms with the discolored urine, you should get your rabbit to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

  • Straining to Urinate
  • No Urine!
  • Signs of Discomfort or Pain
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Heavy Panting, even when it’s not hot

To be clear, if you see any of these symptoms in conjunction with discolored urine or discharge you should get your rabbit to your veterinarian right away.

In our house, when we see discolored pee but no other symptoms, we just watch it for a few days. In our decades of having rabbits, within those few days, our rabbit’s urine has always cleared up.

I’m not trying to scare you, but I do want stress how serious this could be.

“Bloody urine is rare in rabbits and rodents. Many cases of ‘bloody’ urine turn out to be porphyrin-pigmented basic urine or a sanguineous vaginal discharge associated with uterine adenocarcinoma, polyps, or abortion. Thick white urine containing reddish-orange pigment is indicative of an excess of dietary calcium.”

Harkness and Wagner’s Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents 5th Edition { See on Amazon >> }

True blood in your rabbit’s urine could also be a sign of a urinary tract infection, bladder infection or even a symptom of cancer.

But, it’s probably discolored pee caused by something they ate which I think has always been the case with our pet rabbits.

So What Are The Most Common Dietary Causes of Red Bunny Urine?

There are a number of foods that could cause your rabbit’s urine to become darker, and even become bright red.

The most common are culprit veggies are those that contain Beta Carotene .

Beta Carotene Vegetables Include:

  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Micro Greens
  • Kale
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Fresh Parsley

As you can see, these vegetables that might be causing your rabbit’s reddish urine aren’t uncommon bunny treats so we shouldn’t expect discolored urine to be uncommon either!

With our house bunnies, we usually have seen the discolored pee when one of our pets has eaten one of these vegetables that they just aren’t used to eating.

For example, we might see it in the spring when the dandelions first come up, but within a few days, it’s gone and doesn’t seem to happen again (with dandelions) that year.

One last more surprising source of discolored urine is Fir Leaves. I honestly can’t tell you why this happens, but after seeing it many times over the years I’m comfortable that it’s a natural and not uncommon cause of red urine.

So What If This “Rabbit Period” Is A Reocuring Problem?

If your sweet bunny has this happen often, the first step is to have your veterinarian check them out for any other health issues.

Assuming all is well there, then I’d start with some detective work.

Does it always happen at certain times of the year?

With temperature changes?

When the neighbor’s dog visits and your poor bunny is all kinds of freaked out?

Does it happen the day after they have a special treat to eat? A special toy?

If you do your detective work well, I’m sure you’ll have it figured out in no time.

~The Rabbit Pros

Stacey

My name is Stacey Davis, and I and my family had rabbits for decades. Here on RabbitPros.com we share our love of rabbits, our experience, and lots of research to help you enjoy your pet bunny even more and as stress-free as possible.

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