While lots of pet stores will be able to tell you exactly when a rabbit was born, it can be very difficult to determine a rabbits age once it moves through adolescence to adulthood, this can be a particular problem with adopted or ‘found’ abandoned rabbits, especially for potential adoptees that have reservations around getting attached to a very old rabbit for obvious reasons. So how can you tell the age of a rabbit?
The most reliable way of telling the age of a rabbit is by looking at the condition of the feet. A young rabbit will have fully furred heels. An older rabbit will probably have calloused heels due to the duration and pressure on its feet.
After extensive research into this topic, this was the best way I could find to determine a rabbit’s age. Unfortunately, it’s not 100% accurate. That said, while discovering how old a rabbit is in years may be almost impossible, we can use this and some other clues to determine if the rabbit is a baby, a young adult, or an elderly rabbit. So let’s look a little more into this subject.
Ways of Telling How Old a Rabbit is
It’s natural to want to know the age of a rabbit, particularly if it’s one you are considering adopting. Shelters will often be able to give you an estimate and it’s usually based on the quality of the information they get from the person giving up the pet.
It may even be that the rabbit has been completely abandoned and found without even knowing so much as the poor rabbit’s name.
As a rabbit is covered almost entirely in fur, it has little in the way of distinguishing outward features that point to how old it is. Although rabbits do look slightly different between adolescence, adulthood, and old age you would still probably struggle to notice any distinct changes even if presented with photographs.
It’s fair to say that rabbits age pretty well in comparison to us humans (they don’t grey like we do nor lose their teeth).
Fortunately, despite their ageless looks, there are a number of signs which can help us tell the (approximate) age of our rabbits and we’ve covered these below.
Appearance and Rabbit Age
The first telltale sign of rabbit age is fur condition.
Rabbits groom themselves religiously several times per day, you may even notice your rabbit grooming itself the second you put it down from a petting session after being touched by our comparatively dirty hands.
Because of this, you’ll notice that younger rabbits in their prime will have a very clean glossy coat. However, as they get older rabbits can start to struggle to maintain cleanliness (sometimes as a result of a medical condition). In the same way that our hair will start to look a little unkempt if we don’t wash it for a few days, so too does a rabbit’s.
Also, elderly rabbits (Particularly those suffering with painful joints or arthritis) are naturally not as flexible as younger ones which can also mean they have difficulty cleaning hard to reach areas such as their butts.
For this reason, older rabbits are much more likely to need a ‘butt bath’ than younger ones.
Teeth Condition and Rabbit Age
While some may think that looking at the condition of a rabbit’s teeth may be a good way to find out how long a rabbit has been around, this again is not a good measure.
For example, a young rabbit fed only on a diet of carrots (a high sugar vegetable) may have terrible teeth while an elderly rabbit that has been fed a healthy diet of timothy hay may still have beautiful gleaming white teeth.
It is true however that older rabbits are more likely to suffer from malocclusion (overgrown misaligned incisors) due to the fact that they may eat a little less than younger rabbits, so if the teeth are overgrown, you are probably looking at a rabbit that is well into its adult years.
Skin Condition and Rabbit Age
One more accurate measure described by some vets involves the toughness of a rabbit’s tissue, this measure is said to be particularly noticeable during spaying and neutering procedures with vets describing older rabbits, particularly males who have been impacted long term by testosterone as having very tough skin. In contrast, a young rabbit has a very soft delicate underbelly.
Foot Condition and Rabbit Age
As mentioned earlier, the feet are probably the biggest clue to a rabbit’s age. The heel of the rabbit’s feet (tarsus bone) and the point where it meets the rabbit’s foot (the calcaneus bone) is a little like our elbow joint with the skin pulled tight over the heel of the foot.
This means that the weight of the rabbit puts stress on the heel bone. Over several years causes the fur to rub away and creates a callus (a tough, dark-colored spot of dead skin with a hard protective surface). The fact that this usually develops over several years is one of the clearest signs that you are in the presence of an older rabbit.
Behavior and Rabbit Age
Age catches up with all of us and this includes rabbits. As such, the way a rabbit behaves can also be an indication of its age (especially when considered along with the other factors described here).
Allowing the rabbit some supervised freedom during the hours of dawn and dusk (the time when rabbits are most active) and observing activity levels can help you to determine if the rabbit is young or old.
Just as you wouldn’t expect your Granny to be running any marathons, younger rabbits will be a lot more energetic than elderly ones. Although healthy elderly rabbits can still be ‘full of beans’ they are a lot more likely to suffer from painful conditions such as arthritis, some of which stiffen the joints and cause soreness.
Naturally, this has an effect on the pet’s mobility and its willingness to do things that come much more naturally to younger rabbits (such as binkying).
Personally, my younger rabbits are often keen to spend as much time exploring the garden and chasing each other around energetically as possible. In contrast, my elderly rabbits are usually keen to get back into the warmth of the hutch after much shorter periods.
Again, every rabbit is different so this is by no means an exact science however, medical and mobility issues are much more common in elderly rabbits than younger specimens.
Reproductive behavior can also be an indication of how old a rabbit is however, this will only be noticeable providing the rabbit has not been fixed. Rabbits become sexually active between 3 to 8 months of age (somewhere between adolescent and teenager) but this will vary between breeds.
Young males reaching sexual maturity may display territorial behavior including honking and possibly circling (if you have been in contact with a female rabbit). Adult females, usually those under 7 years of age are more likely to exhibit nesting behavior and false pregnancies.
Eating Habits and Rabbit Age
Healthy rabbits generally have a healthy appetite regardless of age, however, some rabbit owners have reported weight loss in older pets. Once again this will depend on the individual but it’s true that weight loss is a natural phenomenon in many animals reaching their twilight years. This could be because as they spend more time sleeping and less time eating.
Determining an Approximate Rabbit Age
Baby rabbits are naturally easy to spot but it’s a lot more difficult to determine the age of a rabbit once it gets a little more independent. Young rabbits are fully weaned around 8 weeks old and at this age will look just like small adults.
Rabbits are fully grown anywhere between 7 months and 1 ½ years of age. Smaller breeds will likely be fully grown by the time they reach 7 months of age, medium to large breeds can take anywhere between 1 and 1 ½ years to be fully grown.
Providing the rabbit is active and eating well, using scales is the best way to determine if the pet is getting bigger. Simply monitor the rabbit’s weight for a couple of months, a significant change could indicate that the rabbit was under 18 months of age when you started (or even younger if it’s a Netherland Dwarf).
If you don’t have scales available taking regular photographs alongside an object such as a coffee mug (or teddy bear) can help you to determine if the rabbit is getting any bigger. An average-sized rabbit that is still growing will likely be under 1 year of age.
In the table below we’ve put some characteristics, you may experience dependant on the approximate age of the rabbit
Age Indicators for Rabbits
|Baby (newborn – 3 months)||Highly dependant on mother up to 8 weeks.|
|Adolescent (3 months – 6 months)||High energy level|
Healthy looking feet and skin
Rabbit independent of the mother, small but perfectly formed, similar in appearance to an adult just smaller.
Some may start to display mating behavior
|Teenager (6 months – 12 months)||Weight loss|
High energy levels
Willingness to mate (Honking in males, nesting in females)
Healthy looking feet and skin
Weight gain and growth
|Adult (12 months – 7 years old)||High energy levels and mobility|
Clean, Glossy, and well groomed in appearance
Healthy feet and skin
|Senior Over 7||Calloused heels|
health and mobility issues (e.g. arthritis)
Less than pristine appearance
Clouded eyes (cataracts)
How to Calculate Your Rabbits Age in Human Years
Have you ever wondered how old your 1-year-old rabbit is in human years? Well, we’ve put together a handy easy to read rabbit comparison chart to easily help you work out exactly this and more!
How Can You Tell How Big a Rabbit Will Get?
Rabbits vary in size and weight depending on breed. The best way to get a rough idea of how big your rabbit will get is to determine the breed and then the expected weight of that particular breed. For quick reference, we’ve put together a table of some popular breeds along with their expected size in lbs.
|Breed||Weight Range||Breed||Weight Range|
|Alaskan||6 – 8.5 lbs||Florida White||4-6lbs|
|American||9 – 12 lbs||French Lop||10 lbs (+)|
|American Chequered giant||11 lbs (+)||Giant Chinchilla||12 – 16 lbs|
|American Chinchilla||9 – 12 lbs||Giant Papillon||13 – 14 lbs|
|American Fuzzy Lop||3.5 – 4 lbs||Harlequin||6.5 – 9.5 lbs|
|American Sable||7 – 10 lbs||Havana||4.5 – 6.5 lbs|
|English Angora||5 – 7 lbs||Himlayan||2.5 – 4.5 lbs|
|French Angora||7.5 – 10.5 lbs||Holland Lop||Under 4lbs|
|Giant Angora||8.5 lbs (+)||White Hotot||8 – 11lbs|
|Satin Angora||6.5 – 9.5 lbs||Jersey Wooley||Under 3.5 lbs|
|Argentes||5 – 8 lbs||Lilac||5.5 – 8 lbs|
|Belgian Hare||6 – 9.5 lbs||Mini Lop||4.5 – 6.5 lbs|
|Britannia Petite||Under 2.5lbs||Mini Rex||3 – 4.5 lbs|
|Californian||8 – 12 lbs||Netherland Dwarf||Under 2.5 lbs|
|Champagne De A’rgent||9 – 12 lbs||New Zealand||9 – 12 lbs|
|Chequered Giant||11 lbs (+)||Palomino||Under 9.5 lbs|
|Chinchilla||5.5 – 6.5 lbs||Polish||under 3.5 lbs|
|Cinammon||8.5 – 11.5lbs||Rex||7.5 – 10.5 lbs|
|Continental||12.5 lbs (+)||Rhinelander||6.5 – 10 lbs|
|Crème D’Argent||8 – 11 lbs||Satin||8.5 – 11 lbs|
|Dutch||3.5 – 5.5 lbs||Silver||4 – 7 lbs|
|Dwarf Hotot||Under 3.5 lbs||Silver Fox||9 – 12 lbs|
|English Lop||9 lbs (+)||Silver Marten||6 – 9.5 lbs|
|English Spot||5 – 8lbs||Standard Chinchilla||5 – 7.5 lbs|
|Flemish Giant||13 lbs (+)|
So, this is our best advice for determining the approximate age of a rabbit. Although knowing the rabbit’s age is advantageous when taking one on don’t let not knowing put you off. Older rabbits have a lot of love to give and will be incredibly grateful to be given another chance to live out its days happily as your new companion.
How to Tell the Age of a Rabbit cuteness.com
Life Stages of Rabbits melbournerabbitclinic.com
How to Tell a Rabbits Age ourfunkypets.com
How old are baby rabbits when they get teeth?
Baby rabbits will have their milk teeth by the time they are 3 weeks old. This coincides with when they begin to feed on grass and hays such as alfalfa.
How can you tell how old a baby cottontail is?
There are a couple of ways that you can tell how old a baby cottontail rabbit is. Firstly, if the eyes are open the rabbit is at least 10 days old. Secondly, if the cottontail rabbit is independent of the nest it is at least 3 weeks old.