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Socialisation for Rabbits: What You Need to Know

Socialisation for Rabbits: What You Need to Know
Rabbits
,
Behaviour
Share this article
Socialisation for Rabbits: What You Need to Know
Socialisation for Rabbits: What You Need to Know
Rabbits
,
Behaviour
Socialisation for Rabbits: What You Need to Know
Share this article
Socialisation for Rabbits: What You Need to Know

Why rabbits should never be alone

Rabbits are highly social animals and live in colonies in the wild. In a wild warren, rabbits huddle together for warmth and take turns keeping watch for predators so their companions can rest. Without a companion to help with these natural behaviours, rabbits feel the need to be on alert for danger 24/7 and cannot rest. This has many health and welfare implications, leading to a reduction in immune function and risks of infection, disease, and illness. They suffer if kept alone and need companionship for good mental health and well-being.

Isolated rabbits demonstrate compulsive behaviours triggered by negative welfare such as bar biting and barbering (overgrooming). Rabbits should be kept together in pairs at a minimum.

Why another rabbit?

Rabbits communicate with body language, and ear position but rarely vocalisation. Other species that do not communicate in the same manner can cause rabbits to become withdrawn and frustrated when living with an inappropriate companion. Other species also have different needs from a health perspective such as different dietary requirements. This means one of the species always has to compromise and both will end up with a lesser welfare standard.

How to choose a friend for your rabbit

Wild rabbits bond, choose a mate, and breed naturally without human interference. It is important to consider age, breed, and sex when artificially introducing two rabbits in the hopes of bonding them.

Pre-bonded siblings that have grown up together make the easiest match. However, if the pair are not same-sex, neutering is a must to prevent unwanted breeding. In general, unless they are siblings or are very young, same-sex pairs can be tricky, but it is possible to keep two males or two females if they have grown up together.

When pairing rabbits, the recommendation is to select a male/female pair. If you already have one rabbit, choose a companion of the opposite sex. There is a potential for serious fighting with the introduction of same-sex pairs compared to opposite-sex pairs. Conflict can be reduced with any pair by neutering both rabbits several weeks before introducing them to each other, whether same-sex or opposite-sex pairings.

Bonded pairs must never be separated, even for short periods of time. So, if your rabbit needs to visit the vet, they should travel together with their companion to keep them company and prevent unnecessary stress.

Pair bonding and socialising with other rabbits

Bonding your rabbit with a companion will greatly increase their quality of life as well as support better health and well-being. If they weren’t already in a bonded pair (or group) when you got them, you need to take time to introduce them to each other, carefully and gently, as not all pairings are successful.

Steps to a safe introduction:

  1. Place the rabbits' cages near each other so that they can see and smell each other but not come into contact.
  2. One at a time, allow one of the rabbits to investigate closer to the caged potential mate. After some time, replace that rabbit in their cage and then let the other rabbit into the same area. This allows them to get used to each other’s scent.
  3. Introduce each rabbit to the other's scent by offering them toys or bedding the other has had access to. Do this in a neutral zone rather than their own cage to prevent fear or aggression. Look for signs that the rabbits are comfortable in each other’s presence such as grooming and investigating their surroundings, resting, or foraging. If you see these behaviours, they are ready for the next step.
  4. Allow the rabbits access to the same area. Using harnesses to control the proximity of interactions can be beneficial as they can be separated if fighting does ensue.
  5. Continue allowing interactions each day for a few days to a week until the rabbits show signs of mutual grooming or choosing to sit together. They are bonded and can be left together.

Some fighting should be expected on introducing new pairings, so they should be supervised to ensure separation if they are at risk of causing injury to each other. Provide enough resources, such as shelter, food, water, and hiding places for every rabbit at all times to limit conflict and encourage harmony.

Some rabbits will establish an instant bond and some will fail to ever pair bond. If the rabbits appear to show an initial lack of interest when first introduced, then go about grooming themselves, this is a positive sign. It will likely soon progress to mutual grooming and choosing to sit in each other’s company. Supervise them initially for signs of possible aggression, but if it has gone smoothly, don’t separate them.

Rabbits thrive when kept in pairs or groups. As prey animals, rabbits rely on their companions to help them feel safe and secure. Isolated rabbits run the risk of developing health issues because they are such social creatures. Make sure to introduce another rabbit for them to pair bond with to ensure they are healthy and happy.

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Why rabbits should never be alone

Rabbits are highly social animals and live in colonies in the wild. In a wild warren, rabbits huddle together for warmth and take turns keeping watch for predators so their companions can rest. Without a companion to help with these natural behaviours, rabbits feel the need to be on alert for danger 24/7 and cannot rest. This has many health and welfare implications, leading to a reduction in immune function and risks of infection, disease, and illness. They suffer if kept alone and need companionship for good mental health and well-being.

Isolated rabbits demonstrate compulsive behaviours triggered by negative welfare such as bar biting and barbering (overgrooming). Rabbits should be kept together in pairs at a minimum.

Why another rabbit?

Rabbits communicate with body language, and ear position but rarely vocalisation. Other species that do not communicate in the same manner can cause rabbits to become withdrawn and frustrated when living with an inappropriate companion. Other species also have different needs from a health perspective such as different dietary requirements. This means one of the species always has to compromise and both will end up with a lesser welfare standard.

How to choose a friend for your rabbit

Wild rabbits bond, choose a mate, and breed naturally without human interference. It is important to consider age, breed, and sex when artificially introducing two rabbits in the hopes of bonding them.

Pre-bonded siblings that have grown up together make the easiest match. However, if the pair are not same-sex, neutering is a must to prevent unwanted breeding. In general, unless they are siblings or are very young, same-sex pairs can be tricky, but it is possible to keep two males or two females if they have grown up together.

When pairing rabbits, the recommendation is to select a male/female pair. If you already have one rabbit, choose a companion of the opposite sex. There is a potential for serious fighting with the introduction of same-sex pairs compared to opposite-sex pairs. Conflict can be reduced with any pair by neutering both rabbits several weeks before introducing them to each other, whether same-sex or opposite-sex pairings.

Bonded pairs must never be separated, even for short periods of time. So, if your rabbit needs to visit the vet, they should travel together with their companion to keep them company and prevent unnecessary stress.

Pair bonding and socialising with other rabbits

Bonding your rabbit with a companion will greatly increase their quality of life as well as support better health and well-being. If they weren’t already in a bonded pair (or group) when you got them, you need to take time to introduce them to each other, carefully and gently, as not all pairings are successful.

Steps to a safe introduction:

  1. Place the rabbits' cages near each other so that they can see and smell each other but not come into contact.
  2. One at a time, allow one of the rabbits to investigate closer to the caged potential mate. After some time, replace that rabbit in their cage and then let the other rabbit into the same area. This allows them to get used to each other’s scent.
  3. Introduce each rabbit to the other's scent by offering them toys or bedding the other has had access to. Do this in a neutral zone rather than their own cage to prevent fear or aggression. Look for signs that the rabbits are comfortable in each other’s presence such as grooming and investigating their surroundings, resting, or foraging. If you see these behaviours, they are ready for the next step.
  4. Allow the rabbits access to the same area. Using harnesses to control the proximity of interactions can be beneficial as they can be separated if fighting does ensue.
  5. Continue allowing interactions each day for a few days to a week until the rabbits show signs of mutual grooming or choosing to sit together. They are bonded and can be left together.

Some fighting should be expected on introducing new pairings, so they should be supervised to ensure separation if they are at risk of causing injury to each other. Provide enough resources, such as shelter, food, water, and hiding places for every rabbit at all times to limit conflict and encourage harmony.

Some rabbits will establish an instant bond and some will fail to ever pair bond. If the rabbits appear to show an initial lack of interest when first introduced, then go about grooming themselves, this is a positive sign. It will likely soon progress to mutual grooming and choosing to sit in each other’s company. Supervise them initially for signs of possible aggression, but if it has gone smoothly, don’t separate them.

Rabbits thrive when kept in pairs or groups. As prey animals, rabbits rely on their companions to help them feel safe and secure. Isolated rabbits run the risk of developing health issues because they are such social creatures. Make sure to introduce another rabbit for them to pair bond with to ensure they are healthy and happy.

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Receive a digest of the latest events and offers for you and your pet every month.

Why rabbits should never be alone

Rabbits are highly social animals and live in colonies in the wild. In a wild warren, rabbits huddle together for warmth and take turns keeping watch for predators so their companions can rest. Without a companion to help with these natural behaviours, rabbits feel the need to be on alert for danger 24/7 and cannot rest. This has many health and welfare implications, leading to a reduction in immune function and risks of infection, disease, and illness. They suffer if kept alone and need companionship for good mental health and well-being.

Isolated rabbits demonstrate compulsive behaviours triggered by negative welfare such as bar biting and barbering (overgrooming). Rabbits should be kept together in pairs at a minimum.

Why another rabbit?

Rabbits communicate with body language, and ear position but rarely vocalisation. Other species that do not communicate in the same manner can cause rabbits to become withdrawn and frustrated when living with an inappropriate companion. Other species also have different needs from a health perspective such as different dietary requirements. This means one of the species always has to compromise and both will end up with a lesser welfare standard.

How to choose a friend for your rabbit

Wild rabbits bond, choose a mate, and breed naturally without human interference. It is important to consider age, breed, and sex when artificially introducing two rabbits in the hopes of bonding them.

Pre-bonded siblings that have grown up together make the easiest match. However, if the pair are not same-sex, neutering is a must to prevent unwanted breeding. In general, unless they are siblings or are very young, same-sex pairs can be tricky, but it is possible to keep two males or two females if they have grown up together.

When pairing rabbits, the recommendation is to select a male/female pair. If you already have one rabbit, choose a companion of the opposite sex. There is a potential for serious fighting with the introduction of same-sex pairs compared to opposite-sex pairs. Conflict can be reduced with any pair by neutering both rabbits several weeks before introducing them to each other, whether same-sex or opposite-sex pairings.

Bonded pairs must never be separated, even for short periods of time. So, if your rabbit needs to visit the vet, they should travel together with their companion to keep them company and prevent unnecessary stress.

Pair bonding and socialising with other rabbits

Bonding your rabbit with a companion will greatly increase their quality of life as well as support better health and well-being. If they weren’t already in a bonded pair (or group) when you got them, you need to take time to introduce them to each other, carefully and gently, as not all pairings are successful.

Steps to a safe introduction:

  1. Place the rabbits' cages near each other so that they can see and smell each other but not come into contact.
  2. One at a time, allow one of the rabbits to investigate closer to the caged potential mate. After some time, replace that rabbit in their cage and then let the other rabbit into the same area. This allows them to get used to each other’s scent.
  3. Introduce each rabbit to the other's scent by offering them toys or bedding the other has had access to. Do this in a neutral zone rather than their own cage to prevent fear or aggression. Look for signs that the rabbits are comfortable in each other’s presence such as grooming and investigating their surroundings, resting, or foraging. If you see these behaviours, they are ready for the next step.
  4. Allow the rabbits access to the same area. Using harnesses to control the proximity of interactions can be beneficial as they can be separated if fighting does ensue.
  5. Continue allowing interactions each day for a few days to a week until the rabbits show signs of mutual grooming or choosing to sit together. They are bonded and can be left together.

Some fighting should be expected on introducing new pairings, so they should be supervised to ensure separation if they are at risk of causing injury to each other. Provide enough resources, such as shelter, food, water, and hiding places for every rabbit at all times to limit conflict and encourage harmony.

Some rabbits will establish an instant bond and some will fail to ever pair bond. If the rabbits appear to show an initial lack of interest when first introduced, then go about grooming themselves, this is a positive sign. It will likely soon progress to mutual grooming and choosing to sit in each other’s company. Supervise them initially for signs of possible aggression, but if it has gone smoothly, don’t separate them.

Rabbits thrive when kept in pairs or groups. As prey animals, rabbits rely on their companions to help them feel safe and secure. Isolated rabbits run the risk of developing health issues because they are such social creatures. Make sure to introduce another rabbit for them to pair bond with to ensure they are healthy and happy.

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