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I purchased two young does (sisters) and a buck (unrelated) from an experienced Standard Rex shower/breeder back in March. I was just starting in rabbits and didn't know a whole lot, but was told you could keep does together and they seemed happy to have each other's company.

Almost a week ago we noticed one of them chasing and incessantly humping the other. I took the culprit out of the hutch and, low and behold, there was a mound of fur in the corner of the hutch in the morning and 7 kits. So I checked the "sister" doe to find that their parts didn't match and she was a he.

We lost one of the kits, I believe she was sitting on it while feeding the rest, but the rest are doing great and the doe is a very attentive mother. It got cold, so I brought her and the kits inside.

Here's the issue...

The poor mister who used to be the sister hasn't been eating or drinking much and is so expectant whenever we are around. Just comes up to the front and sits on his hind legs like he's asking where his beloved is.

Of course, I don't want to breed these two together. My concern is that I now have a pair of breeding bonded siblings.

Will the doe accept a different, unrelated buck?

I don't need this unexpected buck for breeding and will have to sell him.

Will the doe fall into a depression and/or refuse to ever breed again?

She is such a great new mother, made a beautiful nest, carefully jumps over it instead of walking on the babes, checks on them and covers/uncovers it according to temp and they have round little bellies. I'd love to breed her to the buck I first intended to. I never knew that rabbits mate for life!

Does anyone have any words of wisdom for a novice?

  • Do you intend to breed the doe(s) from the beginning? – Allerleirauh Jun 3 at 6:59
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If in nature a male rabbit dies, then the doe will be sad and grieve some time. But it would be a waste of resources if a young doe will never again accept a new partner.

At this line: if you sell the surprise male rabbit, he will be "dead" for your doe and after some time (time in which you have to support her!) she could mate with another male.

(Please have in mind, that breeding is nothing for rabbit beginners. There are A LOT of points to keep in mind, not only about the care for the litter but also about family trees, handing down illnesses and non matching genes. And at last: there are so many rabbits in shelters that need a new home before there should be "made new ones" in my opinion. Because of that: please rethink this idea in depth. Neutered rabbits are very happy too.)

If you would let the male stay with you and only separate them, the doe may hear/smell/see/notice him but could not get to him and vice versa. Then both of them will become sad.

I have 2 rabbits since some years. First an old granny with a young male, then she died and we found a new wife for him. Last year he died and we found a new husband for her. Both times the new rabbits were accepted by the old ones, because we respected the rules for "making new rabbit friends". I will search for them and then add the link to them here. Additional you could use the tag "bonding" to search for tagged questions about that theme. (I added the tag to your question.)

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