Like cats, dogs, and birds, rabbits are beloved pets and companions for many people. A lot of animal lovers and pet owners get multiple dogs, cats, and birds, which can leave many rabbit owners wondering if they can do the same.
Can rabbits live with other rabbits? Yes! Rabbits are very social animals and enjoy the company of other rabbits. Rabbits form strong bonds with other rabbits, and two or more rabbits living together helps keep them from being lonely or destructive.
Rabbits can live with other rabbits, but there’s still more information you need to know in order to successfully and happily keep more than one rabbit. We’ve compiled all that important information for you, from the types of rabbits to keep together to how to introduce rabbits to one another to rabbit bonding. Let’s hop to it!
Rabbits Living with Other Rabbits: Everything You Need to Know
Rabbits are fuzzy and floppy socialites that enjoy the company of other rabbits. Because that instinct and behavior is deeply rooted in them, rabbits can happily live with one or more other rabbits.
Why and how can these furry friends live with one another so well, though? What are the best pairings or combinations of rabbits to live together? What are the pros and cons of having rabbits live together? Let’s find out.
Why Rabbits Can Live with Other Rabbits
Rabbits are just naturally social. So much so, that it’s actually “hard-wired” into their brains and instincts.
Rabbits have been domesticated as pets for a much shorter amount of time than other pets like cats and dogs, so their behavior is still very similar to their wild rabbit friends and family.
Rabbits in the wild live in warrens, or groups, of up to 15 rabbits!
In both the wild and domesticated life, rabbits crave attention. They enjoy communicating with and grooming other rabbits and may miss those aspects if they live alone (especially if their owner can’t offer adequate time with them).
Think of it like living alone for a long period of time: while you may enjoy the solitude for a bit, eventually you’d likely want to see a friend or family member for some conversation and companionship.
Since domesticated rabbit behavior is still so similar to wild rabbit behavior, rabbits that are kept as pets or kept by humans can easily and happily live with other rabbits.
In fact, it may be necessary to make sure your rabbit lives with another rabbit. Rabbits that live outdoors and are what some call “backyard bunnies” absolutely need to have a companion or two so they don’t become aggressive, reclusive, or both.
Types of Rabbits That Can Live Together
Rabbits can happily live in pairings that are:
- Male / Female
- Female / Female
- Male / Male
- Larger mixed groups
However, it’s easiest to have a male / female (opposite-sex) rabbit pairing.
This is because in the wild, rabbits tend to live in male / female pairings, and will often remain partners for life. When male and female rabbits live together, they tend to take on a certain dynamic; females create the nesting burrow, serving as the “homemaker,” while males defend against invasions from other rabbits.
That’s not to say that other rabbit pairings won’t be successful; many male / male, female / female, and mixed group pairings work out well for a lot of rabbit owners.
However, it’s important to note that same-sex rabbit pairings tend to have a little more aggression and take on more territorial habits than opposite-sex rabbit pairings. Same-sex rabbit pairings may be more of a handful for their owners.
Neutering and Spaying is Necessary
Regardless of the type of rabbit pairing a rabbit owner may choose to take on, there is one thing that’s essential for rabbits to live together: they need to be neutered and/or spayed.
Even male / female rabbit pairings need to be neutered and spayed before living together. There are a few key reasons for this.
You’ve likely heard the phrase “breeding like rabbits,” and there’s a reason why that phrase is so commonly used.
Rabbits can start breeding from a very young age, sometimes as young as three to six months old. Males can typically begin breeding even before females can.
Not only that, but female rabbits can become pregnant within mere minutes, and have a very short gestation period of about 31 days. Hypothetically, a female rabbit could produce up to 12 litters of 1-14 babies every year! For more information read How Many Rabbits Can You Own? A Guide on Space Requirements
If a male and female rabbit pairing live together and aren’t neutered and spayed, they can very quickly begin breeding a lot of babies, also called kits. This means a lot more care, time, and expenses for rabbit owners, which can get overwhelming.
Making sure rabbits are neutered and spayed also helps with their behavior. When rabbits are neutered and spayed, they become less aggressive, less territorial, and much better to be around.
Neutered and spayed rabbits also acclimate to living together much more easily than rabbits that aren’t neutered or spayed. There are fewer chances of them fighting or not getting along.
Lower Chance of Cancer
When rabbits are neutered or spayed, their chances of developing cancer are reduced. Cancer in bunnies tends to develop in the reproductive organs. So, when rabbits are neutered or spayed, cancer becomes much less of a worry and risk.
Pros and Cons of Rabbits Living with Other Rabbits
|Advantages of rabbits living with other rabbits ||Disadvantages of rabbits living with other rabbits|
Better for the rabbits’ mental health. Rabbits are less likely to get lonely. Rabbits are less likely to get bored. Owners won’t have to devote as much time to playing and socializing with their rabbit
More rabbits equate to more work, time, space and money. Rabbits may give owners less attention. More rabbits tend to be messier and require more cleanup
As you’ve probably noticed already, there are a lot of pros to rabbits living with other rabbits. Like with most things, though, there are some cons as well. We will explore both in more detail.
Rabbits cohabitating with other rabbits can be a great thing for both the rabbits and their owners.
First, when a rabbit lives with another rabbit, it tends to be better for both rabbits’ mental health than if the rabbits were living alone.
When rabbits live with other rabbits, they won’t get lonely like they would during the times their owner isn’t home or is unable to interact with them.
Not only that, but rabbits that live with other rabbits have less of a chance of getting bored. Getting bored may not seem like such a bad thing to us, but when rabbits get bored, they tend to get destructive. They may chew on things they aren’t supposed to, go to the bathroom where they aren’t supposed to, and take part in other bad behaviors.
There are some cons to having a rabbit pairing or a group of rabbits instead of just one rabbit.
First, more rabbits equals more work, more time, and more money for owners.
When there are more rabbits, more space will be needed for them to reside and roam, messes are made more quickly and easily, more cleanup is required, and more money for things like food, dwellings, and medical care is necessary. That can be tough for owners.
Next, you may get less attention from your rabbit. Owners that really love to socialize with and play with their rabbit may notice that once their rabbit has a companion, the bunny wants to socialize and play more with their fellow rabbit.
While that can certainly be a pro for owners that don’t have a ton of time to devote to a solitary rabbit, it can also be a con for owners who really crave attention and love from their rabbit.
Tips for Keeping Rabbits with Other Rabbits
So, maybe you’ve decided your rabbit needs a companion, or that you want to get a pair of rabbits. That’s great!
There are still some important tips to note and follow when keeping rabbits with other rabbits, though, like how to make proper introductions and how to initiate a bond.
How to Introduce Rabbits to One Another
Before your rabbits engage in the bonded life together, they have to be introduced to each other. There are some ways to introduce rabbits to one another that can help make the meeting more successful, from preparation to meeting face to face to living together.
Take Your Time and Keep Calm
The first thing you can do in order to prepare to introduce rabbits to one another is to stay calm and take it slow. The introduction process might take some time, so patience and a calm attitude are key!
Try to prepare to introduce your rabbits when you have the day off. Introductions might just be an all-day affair. If they do end up taking an entire day, it’s important to take and use all that time so your rabbits are introduced properly.
Scent is the primary way that rabbits communicate, so when you plan on introducing two or more rabbits to one another, try “swapping scents” so they can get familiar with each other’s scents before meeting face to face.
You can take a piece of furniture or bedding or a brush from one rabbit’s dwelling to another so that they’ll know a little bit about each other before they even meet.
Find Neutral Territory
After ample time preparations have been made, and you have prepared yourself to take things slow and stay calm, find a large neutral territory to introduce the rabbits.
Neutral territory should be territory neither rabbit is familiar with, like a large run, a spare room, or an escape-proof area of a garden or backyard.
Provide Hiding Spaces
Once you’ve found your preferred neutral territory in which to introduce your rabbits, try to create and provide some hiding spaces for them when they do get introduced. That way, the rabbits can get away from each other if necessary.
Make sure not to add any items that a rabbit has been previously familiar with, because that could lead to territorial behavior.
Scatter treats like small pieces of fruit, small pieces of vegetables, store-bought rabbit treats, and hay. These will serve as a natural distraction for the rabbits and give them something positive to associate with the other rabbit when they meet.
Leave Adequate Time Between Neutering/Spaying and Meeting
As you previously read, rabbits should always be neutered and/or spayed before living together.
If one or more of the rabbits that are going to be introduced have recently been fixed, there needs to be ample time between the rabbit being neutered or spayed and meeting another rabbit.
Make sure to wait about four to six weeks after a rabbit’s neuter or spay procedure before introducing one rabbit to another rabbit.
Place Rabbits on Opposite Ends of Neutral Territory
When your rabbits are ready to be introduced and when you’re ready to introduce them to one another, place each rabbit on opposite ends of the neutral territory.
Let the rabbits come together on their own time. They may chase, circle, and/or mount one another, which is normal behavior. However, if one rabbit looks stressed or is acting aggressive, you’ll need to split them up for a bit.
Signs that the rabbits are getting along are:
- Lying down near one another
- Grooming one another
- Eating together
- Sniffing each other
Transitioning to Living Together
It’s recommended to let your rabbits meet on neutral territory a few times in order to get used to each other before letting them live together.
However, if the rabbits get along very well during their first meeting and exhibit the signs of being comfortable with each other, it may be possible to let them spend their first night together and see how things go from there.
Remember, it’s hard to keep track of what goes on at night (we humans clearly like to sleep at night), so it may be best to keep your rabbits separated at night for several days.
We recommend you allow both rabbits to live in a hutch or run that is neutral and new to both, but it’s understood that not all rabbit owners can afford to get new dwellings when introducing another rabbit.
If you are going to let both rabbits live in the same hutch or run that one rabbit used to live in previously, make sure the living area is thoroughly cleaned and preferably moved to a new area.
There should also be ample room for both rabbits in any dwelling regardless of what type it is. Each rabbit should be able to get away to its own space if wanted.
Additionally, each rabbit may need its own litter tray. Even if rabbits live together happily, they may outright refuse to share a litter tray because of dominance and territorial behavior.
Separate litter trays can be helpful because although more than one tray will need to be cleaned, they will likely be less messy than if both rabbits were using one tray.
Initiating Rabbit Bonding
After two rabbits are introduced face to face, they should eventually begin developing a bond. However, if you want to try to initiate a bond between the rabbits on your own, or accelerate bond formation, there are a few things you can do.
Initiate a Stressful Situation
To fortify a bond between rabbits, you can initiate a stressful situation, like a car ride. In theory, during the car ride, if the rabbits are scared, they should turn to each other for comfort. This will begin to create a bond or fortify a bond between the rabbits.
Mimic Bonded Rabbit Behavior
You can also mimic bonded rabbit behavior so that your rabbits learn what bonding behaviors to engage in with one another.
For example, you can mimic grooming, a known bonding behavior, by stroking or brushing one or both rabbits at the same time and as they sit together. In theory, this should encourage them to lick each other and eventually groom one another.
One of the many great things about rabbits is that they can indeed live with other rabbits. Not only that, but they happily enjoy it!
Allowing a rabbit to live with another rabbit can help prevent loneliness and boredom in the rabbit, and owners won’t have to worry about spending as much time socializing and playing with their rabbit as it has a companion.
It’s important to remember that rabbits should always be neutered or spayed before being paired to live together, and that male / female pairings tend to be the most successful.
If you’ve got one rabbit and have thought about getting another, but weren’t sure if the two could live together, here’s your answer: yes, they can!