Do Rabbits Need Companions?

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Do rabbits need companions? A reasonable question, because, as casual observers, we do not see flocks of rabbits in nature. Birds tend to flock together. Cattle and sheep gather in herds. Wolves we find in packs, with a few exceptions. Mostly, we see rabbits one at a time, if we see them at all, and we could reasonably assume that rabbits are solitary creatures.

Do Rabbits Need Companions?

Our casual assumption would be incorrect. Our domestic rabbits are descended from European wild rabbits, who are very sociable.

Below is a list of reasons why rabbits need a companion, we hope this helps bring your bunny some companionship.

They live together in the wild

in networks of interconnected burrows, called warrens, maintained by the entire community. Within the warren are areas for nesting, common areas, bolt holes where rabbits hide from predators; and of course, escape passages for emergency use.

As many as a hundred rabbits share living quarters and work together as a social unit, relying on each other; they cooperate to find food, to raise and teach their young, and some serve as lookouts who warn others of approaching danger. Rabbits communicate with one another constantly, using visual cues more than sounds. They also bond as pairs, and bonded pairs stay close together.

Domesticated rabbits need companionship just as wild rabbits do, and will even bond with humans and other animals, as well as other rabbits. Unfortunately, humans do not completely understand what their rabbits are trying to say. Some of the signals are very subtle.

Rabbits form deep bonds with each other

Conversely, people do not always know how to speak to their rabbits. Rabbits and humans can form extremely close bonds however, human companionship cannot replace a rabbit’s need for the companionship of another rabbit. A rabbit will be happiest in the company of another member of its own species. A bonded pair of rabbits will groom each other,play together, snuggle up together for naps, and generally, spend all their time together.

The best situation for a domestic rabbit is to have both human and rabbit companionship.
The least advantageous situation for a rabbit is to be confined to a hutch by itself.

It’s good for physical and mental health

It is very likely to develop behavioural problems, as may single house rabbits who are not given adequate human attention. In a hutch, the rabbit may engage in self-destructive behaviour such as fur pulling, and damaging its teeth on the bars of its rabbit hutch; it may also develop the habit of overeating.

A house rabbit that is ignored by its human companions will suffer from loneliness and boredom, and may gnaw at items in the home, including carpeting, mouldings and other items.

Other Considerations

Your rabbit may not want a companion

There is no guarantee that your rabbit will bond with another rabbit. You cannot just go out and buy another bunny to provide companionship for yours. Like humans, rabbits are individuals, and some are more convivial than others. As in the wild, a rabbit will probably not initially welcome an unknown individual, rabbit or other species, into its home.

The first meeting with a new rabbit may be intensely hostile. Usually, the two settle their differences, and enmity changes into intense and lasting friendship. As the human, your job is to supervise the introduction and watch to see whether the rabbits learn to accept each other.

If the first candidate does not work out, try pairing your rabbit with a different rabbit. As a last resort, you may try introducing a member of another species if your rabbit simply will not accept other rabbits.

It is likely that when left in solitude, your bunny will feel something is missing. We appreciate that you cannot be present in your home for 24 hours of the day every day. Many people have schedules requiring them to be elsewhere for hours at a time.

As we previously mentioned, looking for a pet from another species may be a viable option. Cats and guinea pigs have been known to bond with rabbits. This might be a good option if for some reason you can’t take on another rabbit. 

Common reasons for not adopting another rabbit

1. Non neutered rabbits shouldn’t be introduced to a member of the opposite sex.

2. The rabbit is too old to accept a new rabbit into its’ home.

3. Some rabbits never take to other rabbits.

4. People prefer a different species for their new pet.

Stopping your bunny getting lonely

Companionship can be really beneficial for bunnies. However, it isn’t absolutely essential and it’s completely fine if you just have one bunny. You will find often that several rabbits will do their own thing.

You will find that often single rabbits develop more of a bond with their owner. After all, as the owner of a single rabbit you are their soul companion. Luckily, rabbits get their sleep during the day time hours. This means that you won’t need to worry about your bunny getting lonely while you’re at work.

Companionship

Stop your bunny getting lonely

Without stating the obvious, companionship will prevent your bunny from becoming lonely. Where it gets this companionship from is based on a variety of factors. If for whatever reason you don’t get another bunny, or a member of a different species it’s not the end of the world. It just means that you get the fun job of being your rabbits’ primary companion!

Every bunny is different so it’s really important that you try to gauge how much attention yours needs. It’s vital you don’t leave your bunny feeling lonely. Be your rabbits’ playmate, giving it plenty of love, affection and hugs. This really doesn’t take much effort!

As previously mentioned rabbits do form very deep bonds with other rabbits. However, in the circumstances no other bunnies are around, it will look to you as it’s primary companion. This will result in an even deeper bond between you and your rabbit. 

Conclusion

To conclude, we would recommend if possible finding a companion for your rabbit. We firstly recommend opting to introduce a new bunny into your rabbits’ life. Giving it another member of the same species as a buddy is a great way to give a rabbit the social life that it needs naturally. This will cause your rabbit to have less behavioural problems, and be much happier. 

If for some reason another rabbit companion is not feasible, you should consider introducing a member of another species. We would recommend trying a guinea pig, as these are similar in size and nature.  

If you’re not able to offer your bunny a new companion, evaluate the current level of companionship you provide. If you feel like you could be doing more to provide companionship for your bunny, do so.

We appreciate companionship from a human is different to that from another bunny. Please make sure your bunny is getting a healthy amount of companionship, regardless of where from whether it’s through another fluffy little friend or your own loving self.

If you’re a new owner we’ve put together some need to know facts for you. For tips on mixing male and female rabbits check this post out.