Pretty much everyone knows that part of breeding animals is going to involve dealing with the nuts and bolts of life; or rather we should say dealing with the birds and bees.
Breeding is often complicated, troublesome, and sometimes gross, but every once in a while it can be quite funny.
Probably the picture-perfect example of this is exhibited by rabbits post-coitus. There’s a well-known phenomenon that shows male rabbits literally falling over after mating with a female, seemingly dumbstruck.
Why does this happen? Why do rabbits fall over after breeding?
Male rabbits fall after breeding due to the involuntary tensing and relaxing of muscles. This causes the male rabbit to often fall off of the female to the side or rear.
Much of the time this humorous quirk of rabbit reproduction happens quickly, about as quickly as they can mate, but sometimes the male might lay there in a semi-comatose state.
It’s nothing to worry about, but it’s definitely fun to watch. Keep reading to learn more about this interesting phenomenon.
This Falling Behavior in Males is Known as “Fall Off”
The phenomenon in question where a male rabbit falls over after mating is called “fall off.” It’s not an uncommon occurrence, and it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with the rabbits.
Fall-off occurs because of the quick succession of muscle contractions that happen during intercourse. These contractions are involuntary, so the rabbit can’t help it.
When mating, the male’s muscles will grow tenser and tenser until he inseminates the female, and immediately afterward his muscles will relax, releasing the female and causing the male to lose his balance.
The rabbit will usually fall off to the side or rear, and sometimes they might stay in that position for a minute or two before getting up.
Females Do Not Fall Over After Mating
Interestingly enough, this post-coital falling behavior is not exhibited by females. After they mate, they will usually just lay there or get up and hop away as if nothing happened.
There are a few theories as to why this is, but the most likely explanation is that females simply are not exerting themselves during mating like the males are.
Bucks May Seem to Faint or be Paralyzed for a Short Time
Perhaps most notably, male rabbits that exhibit this fall-off behavior might appear paralyzed, asleep or otherwise unresponsive for a time. This is perfectly normal, and the rabbit will usually wake up and act normally in short order.
This brief unresponsiveness is likely caused by a combination of the relaxation of the muscles and the release of endorphins.
Recovery is Usually Quick
After males fall off they usually get back to normal pretty quickly. If everything goes according to plan, the male will have successfully mated and inseminated the female, so he doesn’t really have anything else to do.
The rabbit will usually lay there for a minute or two before getting up and shaking it off. In most cases, they will be back to their old selves in no time. Not long after that, they will be ready to mate again.
Some Bucks Do Not Exhibit Fall Off Every Time, or Only Intermittently
One interesting thing to note is that not every male rabbit will fall over after breeding every time. In some cases, they will only do it intermittently, and in other cases, they may never do it at all.
There are a few theories as to why this might be the case, but the most likely explanation is that it’s just a quirk of individual rabbits or even that some are genetically predisposed to the behavior. Some rabbits are simply more prone to falling over after mating than others!
It’s also worth noting that bucks may fall off for a period of time before the behavior ceases, or they might go through a spell of not falling off at all.
To the best of veterinary knowledge, no such “seasons” of mating behavior indicate anything is wrong with your rabbit!
Mating Between Rabbits is Very Fast!
If you have read enough and want to witness this humorous behavior for yourself, you’ll need to stay on watch: the whole process of rabbits mating from start to finish only takes only seconds!
While you might not be able to predict when your rabbits will mate, you can usually tell when they are getting ready. The male will start to chase the female around, and they may start circling each other.
Once they start to mate, it happens very quickly. You might see the male’s body tense up as he mounts the female.
Then, almost as quickly as it started, it will be over, and the male may fall off to the side or even backward.
If your male rabbit enters the “comatose” state he might lay there for a minute before getting up. It is quite easy to miss the whole affair if you turn your back.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.