Flirting In Bunnies: What Do Rabbits Do To Attract Mates?

Flirting is a natural part of social attraction, sometimes it could be subtly done, other times, like with rabbits, it is out there in the open. Like all other animals, rabbits’ mate. Attracting a mate for bunnies is called “the mating dance.” This requires the active participation of the male and the female rabbit.

Usually this behaviour can be attributed to hormonal imbalance in rabbits and it is a form of sexual communication. When they are overrun by their hormones, they act out. One of which can be; humping other animals, objects, and even humans around them. It is instinctual, as with every other behaviour they display. For some breed of rabbits, this behaviour has a season and specific time in the year, for others, it doesn’t follow a calendar.

For pet rabbits, this process is handled by their owners, who conduct something close to an arranged marriage for them if they intend for their pets to mate, but for rabbits in the wild this is a different story. The rabbits usually go all the way to get the mate of their choice.

The Cottontail Rabbit and The Mating Dance

A breed of wild rabbits who are known for their mating habits are the cottontail rabbits. These rabbits are found in the forests, they are relatively small and they often have dark-coloured furs; black, brown or even grey with contrasting white tails, hence the name. They have long erect ears which play an important role in their hearing and thermoregulation, considering the fact that they live in the outdoors.


Flirting In Bunnies: What Do Rabbits Do To Attract Mates?


These animals have a specific breeding season which usually starts from February/March and end in August/September. Their gestation period (pregnancy) lasts for about 28 to 31 days during which they can give birth to a litter of kits. Each litter has five to twelve kits in it. Because their breeding season lasts that long, they can have up to four litters a season.

Before mating, the male rabbits (buck) chases the female rabbit (doe) around. This chase doesn’t end until the female rabbit stops running and faces the male rabbit.

Once the female rabbit faces the male rabbit and hits him with her paws, it means she is interested in mating with him. To complete their mating dance, one of the rabbit’s leaps into the air and the other follows suit. After this step has occurred, the mating can now take place. To mate, the male rabbit humps on the female rabbit and begins ejaculation after which he falls over on his back/side to the ground, in a satisfied but tired stance.

The buck will be uncomfortable mating outside of its territory, so the mating usually occurs inside the territory of the buck. This often means, within a few days the rabbit is pregnant and after a month, the babies are born.


Flirting In Bunnies: What Do Rabbits Do To Attract Mates?


Mating only occurs when the female rabbit is in ovulation. However, once a female rabbit reaches sexual maturity age, she is in constant ovulation and ready to mate. Sexual maturity for female rabbits starts from three to four months. Often, sexual maturity is determined by the size of the rabbit, rather than the age.

Smaller breeds reach maturity earlier than the larger breeds, who reach maturity at six to seven months. Female rabbits reach sexual maturity earlier than male rabbits.

When a female rabbit is ready to mate, she’s often referred to as being in heat.


  • Becomes territorial: She guards her space aggressively, not wanting to be disturbed.
  • Starts humping/mounting: she may mount anything in sight.
  • Starts circling: She circles other bunnies or her owner. She shows affection for things she’s fond of. She might even lie with her tail in the air, ready to be stroked.
  • Starts scent-marking: This is a form of sexual communication. Bunnies have scent glands all over their body. This scent is undetectable by humans except their kind. She rubs her chin or marks her urine everywhere to attract a male rabbit.
  • Becomes restless and irritable: She has a short temper and becomes uncomfortable in her own skin.
  • A swollen vulva: This is the most obvious of signs. It becomes moist, swollen and reddish/purplish.

For male rabbits, this behaviour can become destructive if left unattended. Once the male reaches maturity between seven to nine months, they become sexually driven. Showing these behaviours:

  • Humping/mounting: The rabbits humps on anything in sight. He even mounts on inanimate objects or humans just to relieve his frustration.
  • Aggression: He gets aggressive if he cannot mate or doesn’t get enough attention. The rabbit even starts running around to burn off excess energy and look for potential mates.
  • Scent-marking: He marks territories with his urine.
  • : the buck may chew anything in sight out of frustration.

If you have rabbits as pets and you notice these behaviours, it’s time to mate them. However, if you choose to not let them mate, get them neutered (for bucks) or sprayed (for does). Neutering or spraying is a medical procedure performed by a veterinarian to remove the testes or ovaries of a rabbit. Once done, they are less likely to display these behaviours.