Rabbits live in groups and are a very social species. Rabbits in the wild live in large groups known as colonies. Domesticated rabbits kept as pets may live without other rabbits, but it is recommended that even pet rabbits have a companion for their overall health and wellbeing.
In comparison to domesticated rabbits, wild rabbits have drastically different lives. Despite this, domestic rabbits and wild rabbits have one significant thing in common: they are naturally very social creatures and require companionship.
There are several benefits if rabbits live in groups or bond with at least one other rabbit.
What You'll Learn
Where Do Rabbits Live?
Wild rabbits live in various habitats, including forests, deserts, woods, tundra, and wetlands. Most rabbits are found in North America, but they also live in other areas of the world, such as Southwestern Europe, Southeast Asia, Japan, Africa, and South America.
While most rabbits live in the wild, there are a lot of rabbits that are domesticated and kept as pets. In fact, there are over 3 million pet rabbits in the United States.
Why Rabbits Live in Groups
In the wild, rabbits live in large groups known as colonies. A single colony can have anywhere from a handful of rabbits to several dozen.
Colonies live and do all activities together, such as grazing and eating, grooming each other, and snuggling in the colder months to stay warm.
When rabbits are with other rabbits, they are less likely to exhibit abnormal behaviors (such as fur chewing).
Benefits of companionship include:
- Reduced stress
- Social grooming and eating
- More physical activity
- Decreased risk of disease
In the wild, it’s also beneficial for rabbits to be in groups to provide protection against predators.
Importance Of Bonding Between Rabbits
Bonding rabbits provide them with companionship and ensures they’ll never be lonely. It keeps them healthy both physically and mentally.
Do Pet Rabbits Need To Live In Groups?
Even if you promise to spend a lot of quality time with your pet rabbit, there will still be times when you cannot always physically be with your rabbit. This is why it is essential to have at least one other rabbit that can be its bonded partner. This way, your rabbit will never be lonely even when you are away.
If you can’t have a group of rabbits, having two is typically acceptable for their health and wellbeing. Another rabbit can offer a level of companionship that humans can’t provide.
How To Introduce Rabbits
The term “bonding” refers to the introduction of rabbits to live together and become companions. Rabbits can be territorial, so bonding rabbits must be done carefully and with caution.
With this in mind, you should introduce rabbits in neutral and unfamiliar territory. If you have a group of rabbits you’re hoping to introduce to each other, you should do so all at once, not one at a time.
In this new and unfamiliar space where you are introducing rabbits, ensure there are new things and items to distract the rabbits from each other when needed. Provide a space for rabbits to run away or hide when they want to.
Every rabbit is different. Some will want to play or chase each other, and others will run away when introduced. You should also have a spray bottle filled with water in case a fight occurs. This will allow you to quickly and easily break it up.
It could take a few days to a week for the introduction process to be completed. The timing will depend on how involved you are. The more you can keep fights at bay, the quicker the rabbits will bond.
Once complete, if you have a group of rabbits, it is important to remember that the group will have different dynamics and relationships. Some may be closer than others, and this is entirely normal.
Rabbits that are unfamiliar with each should be housed separately until the bonding process is complete.
It is also crucial to ensure plenty of space and resources for your rabbits to live and roam together. This will ensure there are fewer fights over resources between rabbits.
If you’re not looking to breed rabbits, it’s best to keep a single sex or only keep rabbits who have been fixed. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of babies on your hands.
Importance Of Not Separating Rabbits Once Bonded
Rabbits form extremely powerful bonds with each other. Once the bond is created, they shouldn’t be separated, even for a short amount of time. Having the other partner around at all times provides comfort and keeps the rabbits’ welfare in good condition.
If separated, even for a few hours, the bond may not be able to be repaired. It can also cause depression and illness in rabbits due to extreme stress.
Can Rabbits Live with Other Species?
It’s important to note that other species are not a replacement for rabbit companionship. While rabbits may get along with other animals, you should avoid housing them together.
For example, although some people may think that guinea pigs can serve as a companion to rabbits, guinea pigs require a different diet from rabbits (including vitamin C) and must have a space where they can go to escape from rabbits as needed. Rabbits are larger than guinea pigs and, if they attack, could do serious harm.
As long as larger pets do not display predatory behavior toward the rabbit, you can typically safely introduce other pets like cats and dogs to your rabbit. But again, other species cannot take the place of a rabbit companion for your pet rabbit.
Rabbits Require Companionship
Rabbits must have the companionship of at least one other rabbit for their physical and mental wellbeing.