Rabbits make the most adorable pets, and you know what they say – two furballs are better than one! A lot of people ask me:
Should I get a second rabbit? Temperamentally, rabbits are gregarious animals. They have to be clustered in social groups because they are in the constant need for companionship. Outdoor rabbits especially need to have fellow rabbits to keep them from emotional suffering. House rabbits not so much, but they also enjoy having companions.
A second rabbit can prove to be a lot of work, right from choosing the right companion to encouraging bonding between the two bunnies.
However, it’s important to ensure that you provide everything that both your bunnies would need. Here’s a list of all bunny must-haves.
Every Rabbit Needs a Friend
I honestly can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked, “is it better to have two rabbits or one?”
Here’s the thing about rabbits:
They live in families of upto hundred rabbits.
This is the inherent nature of rabbits since they live in warrens of over a hundred rabbits.
Even though rabbits have been domesticated for centuries now, this innate habit hasn’t died down.
Rabbits live in warrens where they cooperate just like a family: they search for food, create shelter, look out for their community and protect it against potential enemies and rear their young ones.
The most important feature of these rabbit warrens is that they provide emotional stability.
Here is a significant fact about rabbits:
They depend on their fellow rabbits for their emotional stability and fulfillment.
Another bunny can only fulfil this emotional void; human companionship helps but doesn’t suffice.
A bonded pair of rabbits functions like twins:
They are always together.
They communicate with each other in their way, through their body language.
Their grooming patterns start to be completely identical, they dance, sleep, and sit idle – together.
This doesn’t mean that the pet-owner relationship gets undermined.
The bond between the owner and the pet rabbit is as strong as ever; the only difference is that your bunny is happier!
Sometimes people get guinea pigs as partners for their rabbits.
Mixing rabbits and guinea pigs are never a great idea owing to a variety of factors.
Also, if you get two pets of different species, it will require double effort to take care of them!
Both rabbits and guinea pigs have different dietary requirements; they have different health needs, not to mention different living needs and modes.
The bottom line:
If you want to get a friend for your rabbit, buy another rabbit.
Pros and Cons of Having a Pair of Rabbits
The most frequently asked question by pet owners who are considering getting a new rabbit is:
Will my pet spare any affection for me?
It is an understandable worry since rabbits get so attached to each other.
Here is the thing:
If you look at it from a purely selfish perspective, getting a single rabbit means that all the affection, as well as attention, will be yours.
Since your rabbit is so attached to you, it will also demand an equal amount of attention.
This is where it gets tricky.
Usually, people spend a lot of time outside the house, going for work, getting groceries- you know the drill.
This shatters the rabbit.
As much as they like to give attention, they also crave it back.
You go away on a weekend trip and come back only to find a miserable and depressed little bunny.
Which brings me to the question, “can rabbits live alone happily?”
Rabbits don’t handle loneliness well.
Once they get to that point of sadness, it is just a downhill journey from there.
Rabbits get depressed very often.
It gets worse:
It is a pretty tough job to bring them back.
The Upside of Having a Rabbit Pair
When you have a pair of house rabbits,
The best thing about having a bonded pair of rabbits is watching their affection grow and evolve into an ever-deepening bond of love.
It gets better:
A bonded pair of rabbit doesn’t demand as much attention as a single rabbit will do.
This means that you can spend time with them all you want but when you aren’t around, they still have each other.
You can be sure of one thing:
A bonded pair never gets depressed.
Rather, they get a buddy for a lifetime.
They will sleep, play and eat together.
They even groom each other!
The Downside of Having a Rabbit Pair
Having a bonded pair is the most ideal form of keeping rabbits as pets.
This is a three-way companionship.
The rabbits’ bond with each other, each rabbit’s bond with you and your bond with them.
It is a rewarding experience!
But on the flipside, having a pair of rabbits has some cons as well.
You should be prepared for one thing:
When you get a pair of rabbits, there will be more work!
Not to mention higher expenses.
You will have to cater to the medical needs of both the rabbits, which can be quite expensive.
It’s not only about the expenses.
This companionship comes with a cost.
For one, introductions are hard!
Getting both the rabbits to bond with each other is quite hard.
Bonding is great, but not always.
If one of them dies, you will have to work very hard to alleviate the misery of the survivor.
The Reason Why You Shouldn’t Get Another Rabbit
Sometimes, adopting a second rabbit isn’t such a great idea after all.
There is only one reason why you shouldn’t get another rabbit.
If your rabbit isn’t neutered, don’t go for another rabbit.
Unneutered rabbits of opposite sexes shouldn’t be allowed to mingle.
Neutering is generally a good preventative health care step, for both the rabbits.
In case your rabbit can’t be neutered owing to frail health conditions or old age, go for other pet options.
Introducing a second rabbit
Rabbits crave companionship, there is no doubting that fact.
Introducing a rabbit to its new partner can be a tough job.
You are probably wondering why.
It all goes back to their innate behavioral patterns.
Wild rabbits are very protective of their warren.
They are always hostile towards creatures from the outside, even other rabbits!
It is this innate urge of a rabbit to be hostile towards a stranger (in this case, another rabbit).
This means that the first introductions will always be hard.
This doesn’t mean that your pet rabbit will never accept any other rabbit as its friend.
It just needs time to warm up.
The warming up phase is pretty technical, you have to maneuver your way rather tactfully.
It is not as bad as it sounds:
You can always acquire help!
Usually, the rescues which let you adopt the rabbit will also help you with the introductions.
Introducing a New Friend to a Grieving Rabbit
Rabbit companionship can really help a grieving rabbit.
When one of the rabbits of a pair dies, it leaves behind an absolutely shattered, despaired survivor.
You already know this:
Rabbits have a knack of falling deep into the pit of depression.
When it loses a partner, there is no denying the fact that it will grieve.
And rabbits grieve hard.
Here is what you can do:
You can (and you must) shower your pet with all your affection and attention.
This can help, but it won’t suffice.
You will have to introduce your rabbit to a new partner.
Second introductions can harder than first introductions.
For some rabbits, it can be a rocky journey.
But know for sure, they will move on at their own pace with their new partner.
Three is better than One (or Two)
Rabbits, with time, get increasingly attached to one another.
This is a good and a bad thing.
It is a good thing because both find a companion within each other, the pair is happier, more calm and satisfied.
It’s a bad thing because when one of them dies, the other one is left heartbroken.
It gets worse:
The survivor gets sick too, owing to this immense misery.
There is very little you can do to alleviate the misery of the grieving survivor. You can always bring him a new friend though!
Here is what you can do beforehand to avoid such a scenario:
Get a trio instead of a pair!
Not only does this great an amicable social bond between the three animals, but it also provides you (and the rabbits) with the security that if somehow you lose one of them, the other will bounce back soon.
You can also buy these rabbits some tunnel tube toys so they can play and socialize. Sounds fun? Check out our top choices for the best tunnel tube toys.
There is one catch:
Their medical expenses will rise exponentially.
You won’t notice a significant rise in the food and maintenance costs for the trio.
You will have to get three sets of vaccinations or veterinary appointments since health care has to be provided to the animals timely.
It’s all worth it when you see your little bunnies hanging around at the house, warming up every nook and cranny with pure joy.
Finding the Right Partner for your rabbit
When pairing up rabbits, be mindful of one thing:
Both the rabbits should be neutered (if male) and spayed (if female).
A neutered (and spayed pair) is calmer and more relaxed.
Even if one of the rabbits isn’t neutered, it will be exhausting for both – all the frustration and hyperactivity won’t bring any good to the pair.
Even when bonded pair of rabbits are not neutered they start having behavioral problems.
Rabbits are pretty friendly with the members of their kin. They rarely fight with other rabbits that they consider family.
So, for your rabbits to be friendly to each other, they will have to learn to trust each other first.
This bonding, or developing of a trusting relationship, is a trait that needs to be taught.
Rescues can help you with this!
If your rabbits were previously bonded and they recently started fighting then this most likely means that they have reached sexual maturity.
It isn’t pretty when the hormones kick in:
Rabbits, animals in general, can get quite aggressive.
The best pairing is when your rabbit chooses its buddy on its own.
Rescues can help you arrange little ‘dates’.
You will see for yourself!
Generally a male and a female rabbit get along pretty well.
Rabbits that are reared together, right from their birth to progressive years are the best of buddies.
You can also get them an exercise pen so they can play with each other. Here are our top picks.
Getting a New Rabbit
One of the best places where you can get pet rabbits is the pet rescue facilities.
Not only do they have pet rabbits, but they also have great advice regarding their care and health matters.
They will also help you out with managing the two-rabbit situation, which might prove to be a little testing at first.
It gets better:
Several pet rescues even encourage you to bring along your rabbit when you are choosing a new pet.
This way you choose the one with which your pet gets along with the most.
It’s a little bunny date!
It will be way easier for the rabbits to get used to each other and ultimately like each other if they get to choose someone according to their liking.
Should I get another rabbit for my rabbit? Yes, getting another rabbit for your existing pet rabbit is very important.
Rabbits are gregarious in nature. This means that they crave the companionship of other rabbits.
Getting a new rabbit is easy!
All you have to do is to go to a nearby rescue where you will find a large variety of bunnies.
It’s not about you, it’s about your pet bunny.
So, a smarter choice will be to let your rabbit decide which other animal it is going to spend all its time with!
Usually rescues help you with these introductions, they arrange dates for the two rabbits where they can learn to get along.
Do bunnies get lonely? Bunnies are very social and attention-loving pets.
They will shower you with their love but in return, they want all the love and affection back too.
They get attached to their human owners very easily too.
Since rabbits are used to living in warrens, which is an evolutionary trait, it becomes quite miserable for them when they are all on their own.
Most rabbits get depressed when they are lonely.
It gets worse:
This depression often leads to multiple illnesses.
So, it is always a good idea to buy rabbits in pairs.
Can you keep 2 rabbits in the same cage? Once the rabbit pair has bonded, they will live happily in a single cage.
You should first make sure that both the rabbits have bonded and are friends at this point.
When you bring them the first thing that you should do is to put them together in a cage.
This first experiment will help you assess whether your bonded pair has truly bonded or not.
If they are bonded as well as neutered, rabbits (two or even more) can be put together in a single cage.