If you had seen stray rabbits in your neighbourhood or watched them in documentaries, you’d notice that they roll with their gang, correct term is Herd of Rabbit or Fluffle of Rabbits – but you get the point, eh? The sociality of rabbits cannot be ignored and may even be likened to that of humans, the same manner humans would feel lonely in the absence of a social environment is probably the same way rabbits feel when they don’t have friends.
To emphasise the importance of companionship to rabbits, they could literally die from being alone. Maybe not directly but once the rabbit is alone for a long period of time, it becomes boring and lonely, compounded boredom leads to stress and the resulting stress would exacerbate existing health conditions and this may lead to an untimely death. And as a pet owner, you wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?
I mean, considering how little the financial implications of getting a second rabbit are, it is not necessary to sentence your bunny to death by being alone and bored.
If you are keeping a rabbit on its own, these are signs to see if your pet is lonely and probably depressed.
- Aggressiveness: The docility of rabbits makes them such great pets, but once a rabbit feels alone, it expresses its frustration by biting and snapping at anyone who gets too close.
- Pulling of fur: In an attempt to entertain themselves, they may involve themselves in the business of fur pulling which would lead to huge bald spots over time.
- Destructiveness: The proverb ”an idle hand is the devil’s workshop” applies to lonely rabbits. With nothing to do but the same old routine, the lonely rabbit becomes bored and may decide to take on the persistent hobby of chewing the carpet, nibbling on wirings and even the sofa.
- Lack of appetite: For animals that love to nibble and chew all day long, it is indeed alarming how uninterested lonely rabbits are in eating.
- Passiveness: After a while, they altogether lost interest in everything. They avoid social interactions with humans, become less energetic and less inquisitive. They would just hunch up in a particular spot for hours doing nothing. They also become less fastidious, not caring if their coat is dirty or not. Just completely uninterested.
I already own other pets, are they agreeable companions?
Most owners with other pets usually conclude that their dog/cat would be great friends with rabbits because they are all animals and animals love each other, sometimes forgetting the Predator-Prey Relationship. Cats/dogs have natural hunting instinct and their first response at the sight of a rabbit is to hunt, and with rabbits being prey animals, they run when they perceive predators.
You don’t want that kind of commotion in your home every waking hour, do you? Using small pets such as guinea pigs as companions for rabbits is not a great idea either because their needs, feeding and health conditions are completely different and need to be treated as such, plus the rabbit may accidentally suffocate the smaller pet one day.
Can I serve as my rabbit’s companion?
Obviously, nothing can compare to having a friend in the same species as you, but as humans, you can try to compensate for the absence of another furry friend. What’s the point of having a pet if you can’t have a real relationship with it? To be your rabbit’s companion, start slow.
Do not immediately try to constantly carry her. Bond with her by petting and giving treats, bonding with humans is faster if they are kept indoors. Rabbits differentiate friends or foes with their sense of smell, so you may leave objects that smell like you around the rabbit’s home. In no time, you would become great friends
As stated earlier, you cannot replace the importance of having a bunny friend in a lonely rabbit’s life. Rabbits love to play and exercise at dawn or dusk, at humans’ precious sleeping period and who would keep your bunny company when you are at work or on vacation?
Owning an extra furry friend
This is probably the best decision you’d make for your bunny and yourself, really. At first, it may seem like an extra cost to get another bunny but think about the vet runs (during the depression) you would avoid and the safety of your carpets and sofa. It is worth it.
Bonded rabbits are each other’s best friends and they depend on each other for a lot of things ranging from eating, grooming, playing and even sleeping. Paired rabbits often have a way of lining up activities for each other so that they never get bored.
How to bond two rabbits
The best rabbit pair is a neutered male and a spayed female. Except you want your home to be a breading or wrangling site, you must make sure the animals are neutered. Of course, you can decide to get a same-sex pair if you want.
If the two rabbits were adopted/bought as kittens, they would do just fine bonding but for adults bought/ adopted separately, it takes careful planning to introduce them to each other.
If you are buying a pair at once, most rescue centres would give you a pair that is already bonded but if you are buying separately the rabbit that lived in your home longer may become territorial and aggressive towards the newer rabbit, older female rabbit tend to more aggressive than their male counterpart.
The following steps make the bonding process easier and faster,
- Remove the older rabbit to another room and place the newer rabbit in the former’s hutch so it can get familiar with its smell, and vice versa after some weeks.
- You may also put them in different rooms and introduce them to a new hutch, that way none of them sees it as a territory but rather their new home.
- You may now introduce them face-to-face after two weeks, however, if the pair was recently neutered, you may need to wait for a longer period before introducing them.
- After the introduction, the dominant one would probably sniff and circle the submissive rabbit and in some cases, they both mount, sniff and nuzzle each other to show equality. If this happens, that means the bonding process is complete and your rabbit now has a bestie.
- In rarer cases, the rabbits may attack each other or growl at the sight of each other, quickly separate them and switch them in the room that housed the other.
Bonded rabbits are happy and fulfilled, and as you may know or may not know, rabbits are not the ones to hide their happiness. If rabbits are happy, they dance around in circles, spend time grooming and licking each other, do adorable binkies and even purr.
They would even be willing to let your pet and hold them because they have become more confident and calm. You can only enjoy this bliss if you have a happy rabbit and as established earlier, this is best achieved if your furry friend has another furry friend of its own.