Recently in my search for an interesting topic I came across this question on the internet, can rabbits change sex, I found it a fascinating topic and it seems there is a lot of misinformation and confusion about it.
Currently, there is no proven valid argument that rabbits can change sex, sexual dysmorphism among rabbits is almost non-existent and this lends itself to a lot of confusion. The apparent sex change of the rabbits could be confusing due to the almost null sexual dimorphism of the rabbits.
It is not at all uncommon to see in groups of rabbits of the same sex, individual animals adopting behaviors of the opposite sex.
For this reason, in most cases, it is not possible to determine the sex of the rabbit based solely on the appearance of the animal.
It is very common for owners of rabbits who mistakenly or misinformed assume that they have acquired a pair of rabbits of the same sex to suddenly find themselves with a litter of cute baby rabbits.
Being so confused thinking that they have acquired pairs of rabbits of opposite sexes creates confusion as to whether rabbits can really change sex, when in reality what is happening is confusion due to the obvious difficulty in recognizing the distinctive sexual characteristics of rabbits.
Therefore it is very important to be completely clear about the sex of the rabbit which is to be moved into the house.
Distinguishing the sex of rabbits could lead to confusion
It is practically impossible to determine the sex of a sitting rabbit, its sexual organs are hidden and also well concealed in the fur. Likewise, it is complicated to distinguish the sex of rabbits only by differences in size as in other mammals.
The size of the body is not necessarily a reliable criterion for differentiating between the sexes of rabbits; animals of one breed can have males of a slender build as well as rather bulky females.
Another aspect that lends itself to the confusion is the fact that two male rabbits can adopt behaviors that at first glance appear to be sexual, the behavior of the animals is not necessarily significant either.
If one rabbit hops on top of the other, it is not primarily an intention of mating, it can also simply be a matter of domination.
Are rabbits hermaphrodites?
Hermaphroditic animals are animals that can develop both male and female sex organs, but this characteristic is more common in fish and invertebrate animals such as mollusks and worms.
In mammalian animals hermaphroditism does not exist, rabbits are not hermaphrodites, no mammalian animal presents this characteristic.
It was once thought that hyenas were hermaphrodites and this was denied, it was simply a confusion of the appearance of the female.
Sexual dimorphism in rabbits
I have noticed that this whole issue of whether rabbits can change sex if they are hermaphrodites is nothing more than confusion, in most animals, there are distinctive features to differentiate between the sexes.
In mammalian animals, for example, the most distinctive traits are related to size and visible sexual organs, in rabbits, these traits are not noticeable, in fact on the contrary, in some cases the females are larger than the males.
It is the same case of the hyena that I mentioned previously, female hyenas are larger than males and for a long time there was confusion about their sex.
One of the differences that might be a little noticeable among rabbits is that the unsterilized females when they reach adulthood develop a dewlap because that is where they get the hair to make their nests inside the burrows,
But this is not a constant factor since when they are sterilized they “lose” this difference.
How to determine the sex of the rabbits?
You must have someone else help you to perform the procedure.
Situate with your legs crossed on the ground and hold the rabbit gently and securely between your lap.
Hold the rabbit under its chest with one hand and under its rump with the other and place it on its back so that its back is against your chest.
The rabbit’s abdomen is now in an exposed position. Your assistant should be able to clearly see the sex of the animal by looking between the hind legs:
A female should have a slit-like genital opening between the abdomen and anus. A female has an elongated, fleshy protuberance with a round opening in the same place.
In sexually mature male rabbits, the scrotum is usually clearly visible, but beware: if the testicles are not visible, it may be a tamp. Rabbits may pull their testicles into the abdominal cavity when excited.
In rabbits with longer fur, it may be necessary to gently brush the fur or skin of the abdomen to one side in order to examine the genitals. Be very careful when doing so: this intimate region is also very sensitive in rabbits.
How to determine the sex of baby rabbits?
In the case of young rabbits, sex determination is even more problematic: the sex characteristics are not yet so pronounced that the layman can recognize them without doubt, apart from the fact that everything has much smaller dimensions in the young animal.
Some experts are able to differentiate between bats and rabbits at birth; however, it is a sensible measure for young animals to repeat the first sex determination after a few weeks and confirm or revise the first impression.
To determine the sex of the baby rabbit, carefully place the animal on its back.
With the index finger, carefully press on the genitals, while with the other hand very gently push the skin underneath in the direction of the flower (tail).
As a result, the genitals should protrude a little. Be very careful with this, as baby rabbits are also a sensitive part of the body.
What kind of rabbits is suitable for group housing?
Sexual maturity occurs in rabbits after just a few weeks: in dwarf rabbits and smaller breeds, the pummelers are fertile as early as three to four months.
Larger breeds take a little longer to reach sexual maturity. Females are sexually mature at around 14 to 16 weeks. Before reaching this age, you should definitely check the sex of the animals again; the expression of the genitals should now be clearer.
Rabbits are known for their tremendous fertility with good reason. In order to avoid unwanted offspring in a mixed-sex husbandry, bulls should be neutered at twelve weeks.
Castration is advisable even in “male squads”: Even without a female being present, uncastrated males can fight serious territorial conflicts, which often lead to injuries.
The socialization of neutered rammers and females has proven its worth. Please also have the female rabbit neutered at the appropriate age so that it does not start to harass the male when it is in heat.
In mixed groups, the ratio between females and males should be balanced.