Are rabbits ok living alone?

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This article doesn’t intend to shame anyone for only keeping one bunny.

Some rabbits genuinely prefer to be on their own.

I’ve had single buns before – once because her mate died a couple of years before she did, and another that was too aggressive for a mate.

Eventually, we were hoping to bond her with another bunny since she was calming down a lot.

Unfortunately, she passed away a few days after surgery – heart attacks are pretty common in large bunnies, and whilst we’d only had her a few months, she was no spring chicken when she came to us.

I’m not sure if she would have been able to live with another bunny – she’d pretty aggressive around animals (and humans!) in the past – but she craved human attention more than any bunny I’d ever met.

She’d bite us if we sat with her with no barrier, but loved to flop next to us in her pen, and I would pet her for hours through the pen, provided I didn’t try touching her anywhere but her face.

The point I’m trying make, in a very long winded way, is that not all rabbits can be bonded.

If you’re unsure, ask a local rescue for advice – they tend to have a lot of experience in bonding rabbits.

Are rabbits social animals?

Rabbits are extremely social animals that live in extensive family groups of about 20 in the wild.

Whilst I think getting 20 might be a *little* much, it’s always advisable to get rabbits in pairs.

A lot of pet stores won’t sell single rabbits, which is a step in the right direction.

I would always advise you to get a rescue rabbit if at all possible though.

Many people have successfully bonded up to six rabbits, but I’d stick to two if you’re new to rabbit care.

By the way, keeping two rabbits doesn’t usually cost much more than having one.

Our two small rabbits eat less than the big one I earlier – Holly and Daisy are crosses (Daisy’s dad was Netherland dwarf and I believe Holly is a Dutch cross) whereas Isobel was a French lop, which is a giant breed.

The whole house shook when she binkied, and she ate like a horse.

If you keep two or more rabbits then you’re more likely to see a full range of natural rabbit behaviours, and they tend to settle into a new home more quickly.

That stuff depends a lot on personality though – some outgoing bunnies are perfectly happy and settle in on their own.

Will a single house rabbit get lonely?

Whether a single rabbit is lonely absolutely depends on the personality of your rabbit and how much time you spend with it.

If you keep a rabbit outside I would urge you to keep them inside not to keep a single bunny. They will get lonely and be miserable, however large their enclosure is.

It’s difficult to tell if a rabbit is lonely, so just use your common sense.

Are you or another member of your household around most of the day to play with your rabbit?

Does it seem sad and withdrawn?

Rabbits will almost always prefer the company of another rabbit, and that can be hard on the owner because a newly bonded rabbit often becomes more aloof towards their human.

I think that if you’re in a position to take in another bunny, then it’s a wonderful thing to do.

Bear in mind that the bonding process can be long so you’ll need to be able to provide separate living spaces for them for a time.

Many rescues offer help with bonding, and some even let you take your bunny to pick their own mate.

If your rabbit is genuinely happy being on their own (plenty are), then they might appreciate a stuffed rabbit (by which I mean a toy, not a taxidermy one) to snuggle up with.

Our single bun prized her toy bunny (called Baby), but was a little too, er, boisterous, to be bonded. By prized I mean she didn’t rip it to shreds as she did with all her other toys (and my throw cushions and sofa).

I actually got a bit teary when I saw Daisy gently grooming Baby – I’m glad she’s being well cared for.

Will my single house rabbit bond with me?

Your rabbit is unlikely to bond with you in the same way that they would bond with another rabbit.

They may groom you (and hump you) but it’s a different relationship.

Rabbits absolutely can show a preference for one person over others, and those people that say that rabbits can’t differentiate between people have clearly never owned them.

Even tropical fish can tell the difference between two humans.

My rabbits have ALL learned that my boyfriend is a soft touch who’s always good for treats, so they always beg when he’s eating.

I’m a cruel witch who won’t share her wine with them but is good for strokes.

How can I find a mate for my single house rabbit?

I would hit up a rescue centre and ask.

I’m planning on compiling a list of good rescue centres (they do vary a lot) in a few months, but in the meantime, I’d either ask a friend that has rescued rabbits in the past or ask on the House Rabbit Society Facebook page.

We got our latest pair from a tiny rescue – we volunteer at our local Blue Cross (walking dogs – it’s great) and an ex-employee we stayed in touch with gave us a great list of reputable rescuers.

Just be aware that some rescues are just sneaky breeders.

A great thing about getting a rabbit from a rescue is that they’re already spayed.

I’ve lost a rabbit to surgery before so I love that it’s one less thing to worry about.

I would NEVER consider not spaying my rabbits, so from my perspective having them already done is a load off my mind.

If you check out rabbit rescue websites, it will usually say that single buns are looking for a partner, and usually specifies preferred gender.

Neutered male and spayed female is best, and two neutered males are usually pretty good.

Two spayed females is an absolute mixed bag, so if you know you want two females, get a pair straight away.

Bonding two females can be a nightmare since female rabbits tend to be more aggressive.

Fixed male bunnies tend to be more chilled (I’m afraid there are no guarantees though)

Have you seen that video where the snake tries to take the baby bunnies and the mother rabbit beats the shit out of it?

It didn’t surprise me AT ALL.

Rabbits are prey animals with a lot of predators.

If a mama bunny wants to raise any kits at all, she needs to be TOUGH.

Is it easy to bond two house rabbits?

There is no clear cut answer to this.

If you’re lucky, your bunnies will fall in love immediately.

One will be naturally dominant, the other submissive, or they take turns according to some unknown force.

Sometimes it can take months.

My experience is somewhere in the middle.

I had two pairs, and when a bunny from each pair died, I waited a few months and then put them in neutral territory (the bath).

Isobel nipped George’s ear and there was blood EVERYWHERE. It was like something from CSI.

I was traumatised and took a different approach next time.

I knew dominance wouldn’t be an issue (Izzy is a dominant bunny, George just wants to be left alone) so I put a big pile of watercress (their fave) in the middle of my massive open plan kitchen/living room and waited.

They ate the watercress then retreated to opposite ends of the room.

Occasionally Izzy would run over and hump George’s head, and he’d just sit there and peek at me from under her big bum, silently asking what he’d done to deserve this.

And then all of a sudden he took his responsibility as Submissive Bun very seriously and went over to industriously groom her for about half an hour.

And it all ended happily ever after.*

*Apart from sometimes George would be dozing in a sunbeam and Izzy would be chilling in their little house.

She’d get a look in her eye and then run over to give him a quick hump on the head.

Rabbits are weird.

If you opt or the rescue speed dating option, and allow your bunny to pick out their own mate, you’re more likely to get a compatible pair BUT you may still get a bit of fighting and humping.

I have a post here packed with tips for bonding.

Can I bond my house rabbit with another animal?

I’ve never tried, so I have no personal experience of this, but I’ve seen it online (haven’t we all?) – dogs and rabbits, cats and rabbits, little kids and rabbits.

Whilst it’s sweet and all, I wouldn’t get a rabbit with the intention of bonding them with your non-rabbit pet.

Cat and dogs are predators and it’s hard to know exactly how either party is going to react until it happens.

In general, rabbit will be more comfortable in the presence of another rabbit.

When I was kid, back in the 90s, it was common to keep rabbits and guinea pigs together.

I mean, why was that a thing?

Consider the size and temperament differences between rabbits and guinea pigs though.

Rabbits are big and strong and forthright and bouncy – you may end up with a squished, terrified guinea pig, who just wants a quiet, celery-filled life.

Take a step back and assess the compatibility of two pets before trying to bond them, and remember that whilst they may get along really well, the bond won’t be the same as it would between two animals of the same species, especially if that species naturally live in groups.

What happens when my house rabbit’s mate dies?

I’ve kept pairs of rabbits of varying ages, and different rabbits handle it differently.

For example, Isobel’s first mate was her sister, and when Lucy died, Isobel was quite sad and withdrawn – it definitely affected her.

She was with her when she died and it was heartbreaking watching her try to groom her.

However, when George died, Isobel was less bothered.

They were super close for a good few years, but it wasn’t as close a bond as Isobel had had with her sister.

So the answer is, it varies.

We chose not to get another mate for Isobel (she was nine when George died – he was 11).

She was old and would have struggled to assert her dominance, but she would have been miserable as the submissive one.

George, on the other hand, was dominant in his first relationship and submissive in the second.

If you can, let your bun see their mate’s body so they understand what’s happened, and wait a few months before getting another rabbit.

If your rabbit is elderly and you think that trying to bond them again would be too stressful for them, then that’s ok.

Do some rabbits prefer to be alone?

I believe that some rabbits are perfectly happy on their own, if they get plenty of attention from someone.

It’s also worth noting that the rabbit’s surroundings influence their personality.

A very timid rabbit that’s been neglected may turn into a confident bun with the right care and may blossom if given a partner.

Or they may hate it.

The most important thing is that you observe your bunny and learn how to read their body language.

Final thoughts on keeping single house rabbits

This may seem like I’m being lazy, but it’s easier keeping two rabbits rather than one.

When we had a single rabbit (also called Isobel because why not confuse everyone? We named the first Isobel, the second Isobel came with that name, and somehow in the middle of that my niece, Isobel was born) she took up a lot of our time, which we were happy to give her.

Whilst she was initially very aggressive it was clear she wanted our full attention all the time, and since she was an enormous rabbit, it took a lot of time to tire her out.

She loved to chase and I think she would have blossomed if we’d have had the time to find her a mate.

But I think bonding her would have been tricky, because she loved humans and ignored everything else.

Oh, and if you’re trying to bond bunnies and you’re struggling, you have my respect.

Bunnies can be MEAN.

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