Are rabbits egg-laying mammals? Anyone who owns rabbits or has lived around them will find this question absurd, but when you hear the reasoning, you understand the crazy confusion.
Thanks to the Easter bunny myth, even adults run to Google to search for the phrase “Do bunnies lay eggs?” which makes it a serious topic to tackle.
Well, let’s give it the seriousness it deserves and cover everything around the topic.
Do Rabbits Lay Eggs?
No! Whether domesticated or wild, no rabbit species reproduces by laying eggs. But don’t feel bad if you are one of the believers in egg-laying rabbits. You must have your reasons, and I bet the Easter bunny has something to do with it.
In fact, this is not the craziest belief in the world. Interestingly, a U.S. dairy organization survey revealed that 7% of a thousand people believe brown cows produce chocolate milk!
For the record, these were adult participants, not kids. If you ask me, this sounds crazier than rabbits laying eggs, which proves we are illiterate when it comes to agricultural matters.
Why it’s Assumed Bunnies Lay Eggs: The Easter Bunny Myth
The common misconception is associated with the Easter bunny myth. The early German Lutheran immigrants brought with them their unique Easter traditions when they settled in Pennsylvania, forming the American Pennsylvanian Dutch Community.
Like the Santa Claus protagonist in Christmas traditions, the Easter bunny would leave gifts on the night before Easter for those deemed good children.
So boys would leave caps and girls’ bonnets in secluded places, hoping to receive gifts from the Easter bunny.
It is believed that the Oschter Haws (Easter Hares) would leave colorful eggs for the good kids and poop for the misbehaved.
Anyone who grew up following this tradition is likely to assume rabbits lay eggs because why else would the Easter Hare give colorful eggs?
The Origin of the Egg Laying Rabbit Myth
Historians believe the tradition leading to the myth emanated from the Festival of Ostara, a feast that honored the Spring Equinox.
Ostra, or Ēostre (meaning East) is a goddess of spring who, according to Bede, gives her name to Easter.
According to Bede, pagan Anglo-Saxons would hold feasts during Ēosturmōnaþ (corresponding April) involving hares and eggs, but the custom had been replaced with the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus before his time.
The Festival of Ēostre honored rebirth and fertility along with the Spring Equinox. Focusing on rebirth and fertility, it’s understandable where eggs and hares came in. While eggs symbolize a promise of rebirth, rabbits are associated with fertility due to their high fertility rates.
Decorated eggs go way back to 3000 BC and may be older than the myth. Many ancient civilizations would use colorfully decorated eggs in their spring celebrations, and the Dutch community was no exception.
Some people still use eggs in their Easter celebrations, but differently. Some Christians use eggs to symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus and sometimes paint them red to indicate the blood.
The traditions have really evolved, and now eggs are not real eggs but chocolate made in the shape of an egg and may even contain treats inside. Even the way kids collect the eggs is quite different. Today, kids play games where the reward is eggs or engage in egg hunts.
If They Don’t Lay Eggs, How Do Bunnies Reproduce?
Now that we are clear that rabbits don’t lay eggs, how do they reproduce?
An unspayed doe of around 12 weeks is mature enough to reproduce. However, the recommended age for her to start breeding is five to six months because, at this time, she is strong and mature enough.
Contrary to other animals that come into heat (oestrus), a mature doe can accept a buck any time of the year. She can even get pregnant a day after giving birth.
She carries the pregnancy for about 31 days and gives birth to one to twelve kits. Mature does can give birth to kits for close to four years, and due to their short gestation, they can reproduce so many times a year.
However, it’s not healthy to mate her immediately after birth. She needs time to recover and take care of her young ones, so don’t make her a reproducing machine.
And if you don’t want her to reproduce at all, you can always spay her.
You will notice she pulls fur to create a safe, warm place for her kits when pregnant. Her appetite may also increase, and she may become aggressive and defensive, especially when you go near the nest.
So, in summary, rabbits are placental mammals who develop as embryos in a doe’s uterus for about a month before birth. Kits should wean for about four to six weeks, so they are considered fully weaned.
Rabbits don’t lay eggs. Their ability to reproduce quickly and their high fertility rate are likely the reasons for the egg-laying myth.
The Easter bunny myth is another reason people believe bunnies lay eggs, and when you familiarize yourself with it, you understand why the crazy confusion.
But now you know that bunnies are placental mammals and reproduce by birth, and no rabbit species lay eggs.