Rabbits are bonded and can be a companion to one another
Rabbits should always live with at least one other rabbit in order to feel secure. They are social animals and enjoy sharing their meals, grooming, and lying down together in order to keep each other warm.
They will be able to share their companionship by living together. While rabbits love to spend time with humans, their social needs cannot be met by just one person. Even if you spend lots of time with your rabbit, they will still need company.
Keep rabbits together
Rabbits and Cats can live happily together:
- A neutered male with a neutered woman – is often the most successful combination.
- Two litter siblings or litter brothers – Although there’s no danger of pregnancy, it is important to still neuter them as hormones can cause them to fight each other as they age.
- It’s possible to have more than one rabbit in a compatible group – but it is not recommended unless the rabbits can be related and neutered quickly. Bonding can prove more difficult so it is best to leave it to the more experienced rabbit owners.
Unrelated same-sex rabbits will generally get along well if they are introduced at an early age (less than 12 weeks). To prevent them from falling out, they will need to be neutered.
What happens if I only have one rabbit?
It’s possible to have more than one rabbit.
You can usually introduce another rabbit to your young rabbit if it is less than 12 weeks old. It may take longer if you have an older rabbit. With a little patience, you can make your rabbit a friend in no time.
Our rescue centres often have single and pairs of rabbits in need of a home. Our experts will also help you to ensure that your rabbits are introduced safely.
How to prepare for the introduction of rabbits
Rabbits are social creatures, but they also have territorial instincts. It is important to ensure that rabbit ‘bonding’ or introductions are done carefully and slowly. Fighting can quickly ensue if you put two rabbits together that are not familiar.
You should ensure that all rabbits you introduce are neutered. If you’re pairing males and females, this will prevent them from breeding. However, it will also reduce aggression and harassment that hormones can cause.
Important points to remember when bonding rabbits
It is easiest to bond with a neutered male and a neutered female.
While size and age are not necessarily important, it is worth remembering that a larger rabbit could injure another rabbit if they squabble or fight early in their lives.
Some rabbit adoptions are easy (love at first glance), while others can take many months (or even years) to bond. The majority of rabbits fall somewhere in the middle.
What is the average time it takes to bond with a rabbit?
The time it takes to bond depends on how big your space is, what personalities you have and how much time you are willing to devote to the process.
In the beginning stages of a rabbit introduction, it can be tedious. You should keep them close at all times in case they become separated.
How to get a pair of rabbits?
Begin by doing two runs
You can supervise them throughout the day if you start sessions early in the morning. The runs should be on grass if possible as it will keep them busy with grazing, and will encourage positive associations between them.
You can place the rabbits in separate runs, and then arrange them so that they are close to each other. This will allow the rabbits to gradually get used to one another. The bars should be kept so that the rabbits cannot get to each other through them at first. Each area should have a hiding spot so that the rabbits can retreat if necessary.
You can also exchange the run furniture’ during the day (litter trays and tunnels, beddings, carriers, etc.) to get to know each other’s smell. You can stroke or brush them. Each rabbit will be able to sense the other’s scent and learn a little bit about each other before they meet.
Move the runs closer together
The runs will be moved closer over the next few days or weeks depending on how the rabbits behave and your time. It is important that the runs are eventually close to one another. This stage should not be rushed, especially if one rabbit seems stressed.
Signs that your rabbit is stressed:
Hidden away: Repeated attempts by one rabbit (biting the wire, running backwards and forewards looking agitated), to reach the other.
Aggression, such as lunging forwards or grunting
Positive behaviors that show the rabbits are more comfortable with one another are:
- Relaxed, lying down in the proximity of one another
- Enjoying a meal together
Spread tasty food between the bars so the rabbits are close to each other. This might cause some rabbits to behave defensively at first, but this is not something you should be worried about. These can be introduced later, when the rabbits feel more comfortable around each other.
Once both rabbits behave well together, it’s time to move on to the next stage. This stage usually takes between a few days and a week, depending on the progress made by both rabbits and how much time they have.
Session of bonding
The actual area of introduction should be considered neutral territory for both rabbits. The area should be large enough to allow the rabbits to avoid each other but small enough that they can’t disappear. There are many options.
- Large run (in which you can easily step in if you need to intervene).
- An escape-proof area in a garden or other room that is separated
- A spare bedroom
- Utility room
Reading rabbit behaviour
It’s normal for rabbits initially to seem to ignore one another. Then, you will start to notice more obvious behaviours. They will eventually approach one another to sniff. They might then turn away from one another before approaching again.
Concerning rabbit behaviours
It is normal for rabbits to do some chasing, circling, mount behaviour, fur pulling, and nipping. If either rabbit begins to act aggressively towards the other or becomes stressed, be prepared to intervene.
- Continuous, rapid circling (this could lead to a fight).
- Excessive mounting or chasing
- Boxing is when both rabbits stand on one another’s back legs and ‘box’ each other.
- lunging forward, grunting or ears flattened
Excessive fur pulling
All these behaviors can be expected during bonding but they can also trigger fighting so it is best to stop them before things escalate.