If you have a female rabbit then you may notice that as they get older, there will be a small lump that begins to develop under their chin. It looks almost as if they have a double chin. This is known as the Rabbit dewlap. So, what is a dewlap in rabbits?
Is it something that you need to be concerned about? Read on!
What is Dewlap in Rabbits?
Dewlap is a small lump that will appear beneath a female rabbit’s chin. When the rabbit is laying down, it almost appears as if they have a double chin.
Many people seem to believe that a dewlap means that the rabbit is overweight. It doesn’t mean this at all. It is perfectly common for a female to have a dewlap.
In fact, it is rare for it not to be there. It is surprisingly important when it comes to them breeding, but more on that in a short while.
There isn’t really any standard size for a dewlap. Although, generally speaking, the larger the rabbit breed, the larger their dewlap will end up being. If you have a smaller breed of rabbit, then you will barely notice their dewlap.
It is important to remember that only female rabbits will develop a dewlap. If you have a male rabbit that appears to have one, then there could be a health issue.
This is not a dewlap, and you should be taking your rabbit to the vet so the vet can look at it properly. Although, to be honest with you, it probably just means that your male rabbit is overweight as opposed to there being any serious health issues.
Although, it is always going to be good to exercise caution.
What is the Purpose of a Dewlap?
Many people seem to believe that the purpose of a dewlap in a rabbit is to attract a mate. It isn’t. In fact, potential mates probably do not care all that much about whether a rabbit has a dewlap or not.
Studies have shown that female rabbits were not able to attract mates more frequently based on the size of their dewlap.
The purpose of the dewlap comes into play after breeding.
As you may well know, rabbits will make a nest for their newborn babies. Part of making a nest will be the use of their fur. If you have bred rabbits before, then you will notice that the female will often pull their own fur out.
This forms a little ‘blanket’ for the baby rabbits and helps to keep them nice and warm.
The dewlap is going to be covered in some additional fur. It basically provides the female rabbit with more fur that it can use to build the nest.
This means that the female rabbit is only going to be taking fur from one part of their body as opposed to all over. As far as rabbit breeders know, this is the only purpose of the dewlap.
It does not assist with the breeding. It does nothing bar provide fur to keep the baby bunnies warm.
It is worth noting at this point that the dewlap is made up of fatty tissue. This means that it will likely assist in keeping the female warm, even when she has plucked her fur out.
When Does A Dewlap in Rabbits Develop?
A dewlap is a sign of sexual maturity.
You will notice that the dewlap will start to form in a rabbit around 6-months old. This is when a rabbit hits sexual maturity and can start to breed.
Although, we do want to point out that the dewlap at this point is still pretty early on in development. You may not even notice it at this point.
Most people claim that their rabbit’s dewlap does not fully develop until they are about two-years-old. This means that you are going to be seeing pretty slow growth over this time frame.
If your rabbit does not seem to be growing a dewlap, you do not need to worry too much. It is likely that you have a breed of rabbit that never has a large dewlap. If you are breeding rabbits, the rabbit does not need a large dewlap.
We do want to point out that the growth of the dewlap is likely tied to the sexual organs i.e. hormones. If you have your rabbit spayed, then it is unlikely that they will develop a dewlap. If they do, then it is likely to be quite small.
Can a Rabbit Dewlap Cause Any Issues?
For the most part, no. Some people have said that their rabbits are unable to eat or drink with a larger dewlap, but this is going to be rare. You need to remember that rabbits are resourceful.
They will be able to work themselves around a larger dewlap, particularly when it comes to food. When it comes to water, you may want to try and get your rabbit to drink out of a water bottle instead of a dish.
This may be a little bit easier. For food, you may want to put it up a little bit higher so the rabbit can reach it with their mouth without the dewlap getting in the way.
Your main concern with larger dewlaps is that rabbits may find it a little bit difficult to groom themselves.
This means that you may need to step in from time to time in order to ensure that the fur does not become matted. A small brush and some water will work wonders here.
So, there you have it. Everything that you really need to know about a dewlap in rabbits.
Now you know that it is not really anything to worry about, especially if you see your pet trying to pull fur from it. It is completely normal, and it is a sign of sexual maturity in rabbits.
The only time you need to be concerned is if it is overly large and is preventing your rabbit from eating or drinking. Although, these cases are so rare that you will be unlikely to ever encounter them.