Rabbits are happiest with other rabbits, veterinarians and others involved with the species should be familiar with their social life and encourage owners to keep them in neutered pairs or compatible groups. There are, however, many who believe that the animals will be enemies, as most people have seen or heard of rabbits fighting. However, on the basis of knowledge about rabbits’ social system, behavior, or if a rabbit need a friend, it is possible to provide satisfactory conditions so that they can derive welfare benefits of living with one of their own kind.
Combination of Rabbits:
Many people wonder what pairs of rabbits work best or if a rabbit really need a friend. Rabbits are individuals, and some get along better than others, but most rabbits will tolerate each other if the aforementioned recommendations are followed.
Female and male
If one already has a rabbit and wishes to acquire a companion, it is most common to select one of the opposite sex. They seem to be most tolerant of each other, but must be neutered for obvious reasons. This is generally held to be the most compatible and stable pairing and is therefore recommended.
Many do live together, and they are generally tolerant of each other. However, hormones will affect un-neutered females, and since they must defend imaginary nest sites during the heat, a less stable hierarchy may lead to frictions in the group and consequently quarrels. Neutering will reduce this hormone-controlled behavior.
Previously, this has been an unthinkable combination, as many seem to have thought that two males would fight each other no matter what.
However, after they are neutered and other precautions are taken care of, two males can be as good friends as other mixed groups. Although, it seems to be easier to achieve a long term relationship if they have grown up together or are neutered as soon as their testicles descend.
Probably due to fighting behaviour between unneutered or only recently neutered males, many still avoid this combination.
Many people buy two rabbits from the same litter in the belief that they are of the same sex. One should always get a veterinarian to double-check their gender, as employees in the pet shop or breeders may have difficulties determining their sex at the age of only 5 or 6 weeks, which unfortunately is a common age at which to sell rabbits. However, the kits should be with their mother and siblings until they are at least 8 weeks old.
Because of the early sexual maturation of the males, the mother should be neutered when her kits are 11 weeks of age, or the males should be neutered or separated from their mother until this is done.
Females mature later, but when they reach 15–16 weeks of age one must ensure that they are not kept with un-neutered males.
It is the authors’ opinion that males should be neutered at 11–12 weeks of age and females at 16 weeks of age, to prevent hormonally related squabbling amongst males in addition to making sure no one is impregnating another rabbit.
Due to the rabbits’ need for stability, both rabbits in a bonded pair should be brought to the clinic when one or both is having an appointment with the vet. The rabbits should be kept in the same kennel whilst there so that they can seek comfort and support in each other and maintain their bond.
Dogs and cats
Can Rabbits live with Dogs and Cats?
Does rabbit need a friend like Dogs and Cats? there are many examples of dogs or cats that have become friends with a rabbit. It is especially common for cats and rabbits to share a household.
However, it is impossible to give any advice that ensures the welfare and lives of rabbits if these species are going to live together, as it depends on each individual and the particular circumstances.
One must first of all be aware that the rabbit is a prey animal that is careful and naturally afraid of predators that could pose a threat, and that both cats and dogs are carnivores with their hunting instincts intact.
One should never let a dog or cat greet a rabbit sitting in a cage. Rabbits must have the opportunity to get away from any threat, and being hutched up represents a powerful stress factor when a predator is outside. The rabbit is fully aware that it cannot escape and might be terribly frightened.
Can Rabbits live Guinea pigs?
Many rabbits and guinea pigs live together and are apparently good friends. However, there are several reasons not to house these species together. First of all, a guinea pig and rabbit will not be able to communicate appropriately. They may snuggle together, but they will not understand each other’s scent signals or body language, such as position of the ears, that can express discomfort, dissatisfaction, dominance or other signals that it is important for animals to convey. Guinea pigs are also extremely social individuals and should live with fellow members of the species.
Rabbits can harass and torment guinea pigs, even without us understanding what is going on. Although the two species look equally cute and harmless, the guinea pig has no defence against the rabbit. Many guinea pigs also hide injuries caused by rabbits, either in the form of a bite or kick with the rabbit’s powerful hind legs.
Guinea pigs and rabbits also have different nutritional requirements. Guinea pigs have a higher protein requirement than rabbits, and since they are unable to synthesize Vitamin C, they need a dietary source and supplement.
If nevertheless, you have rabbits living with cavies, it is important to facilitate their living area properly.
The guinea pig should have a hide to which the rabbit does not have access, for example by making the entrance very small. This will provide the cavy with an opportunity to escape a possible dominant and quarrelsome rabbit. It will also be possible to serve the guinea pig its food and Vitamin C supplement in this hiding spot.
Guinea pigs may bully rabbits as well. It is not uncommon for guinea pigs to sit on rabbits and barber the fur of the head and back. This is more difficult to prevent, but providing higher levels that the rabbit may climb/jump on to, but the guinea pig cannot help provide a ‘safe’ area, so your rabbit may not need a friend like a guinea pig.
Take into consideration:
If introducing a dog and rabbit, one should, therefore, allow the rabbit to move freely in the room and keep the dog on a leash. If the rabbit is familiar with the environment, it will know where to run to arrive safely in a hiding spot, and the dog can easily be controlled when it is kept on a leash.
Train your dog in advance, to ensure that he follows your ‘Leave it alone’ command. If he looks calm and the animals are either positively interested or ignore each other, one can try to have them together without harnesses, but always under supervision and a sample of rewards in your pocket.
If introducing a cat and rabbit, it is also important to allow the rabbit to be free-range and with the ability to hide if necessary. Although your own house-cat or family dog may be friendly towards your rabbits, you need to be aware that strangers’ cats and dogs may be able to attack and kill rabbits if left outdoors unattended.
However, there are many stories about rabbits that take over control and chase cats around the house, and some rabbits clearly think they decide, but this is obviously due to the rabbit’s high self-esteem, as they naturally enough have nothing to threaten the small tigers.
One can never ensure the predator’s hunting instinct will not reawaken, and one should, therefore, warn against keeping rabbits with dogs and cats unsupervised.
Single Rabbits in Practice
Single rabbits should always be allowed to live indoors with the rest of the family. A daily visit when you go out with food or to snuggle with your companion for half an hour is not enough to cover the animal’s social needs. However, they can still enjoy life if they have very dedicated humans who spend a lot of time with them. A confident free-range house rabbit can wander around, seek out humans, and benefit from their company. Most people are aware that dogs are dependent on social life.
One often goes home to the dog after work or school, and many think accordingly that the cat should not be home alone too much either. The same should apply for a rabbit who needs a friend.
Rabbits living insufficiently devoted and attentive homes are doing fine. However, there is no doubt that they will do even better with another representative of the species in the house. Neither humans nor other animal species can replace another rabbit.
The species is dependent on another conspecific to communicate and express a full range of social behaviors. In addition, humans are not generally available for social interaction at the same time of day as rabbits, even if they are at home all the time, due to their diurnal rhythms and need for being active at dusk.
However, once you have had two rabbits and seen how much joy they have with each other, I promise that you will never let a rabbit live alone ever again who needs a friend.