Appropriate company for rabbits

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Ensure your rabbit has appropriate company

 

Two rabbits keeping each other company © Andrew Forsyth / RSPCA Photolibrary

Rabbits need:

  • Keeping with at least one other friendly rabbit, unless advised otherwise by a vet/qualified animal behaviourist. A good combination is a neutered male and neutered female.
    - Rabbits are naturally sociable preferring other rabbit company and kept together form a 'pecking order'. Some animals become more dominant than others. 
    - Rabbits can develop abnormal behaviours and may suffer if left alone and with nothing to do for long periods.
     
  • Neutering unless intended for breeding and provisions made to care for parents and offspring. Neutering reduces the likelihood of fighting in both sexes.
     
  • Handling gently daily from an early age. 
    - Rabbits that are well handled by people from a young age can learn that humans are friends and companions. 
    - Rabbits receiving little handling early in life, or roughly handled at any age, may find human contact distressing. This can be expressed as fearfulness/escape behaviour/aggression. 
    - Rabbit’s living indoors can see humans as important companions. If your rabbit has to be kept alone, you must provide them with companionship by interacting with them daily. 
    - See: Rabbit handling advice (PDF 380KB).
     
  • Places to go to get away from companions if they want to. Provide enough resources (e.g. shelter/food/water/hiding places) for every rabbit at all times.
    - Rabbits can be bullied if they cannot get away from other rabbits they don’t like.
     
  • Introducing to new rabbits gradually and under supervision, preferably in a space new to both rabbits. 
    - Rabbits brought up together will usually get along, but if introduced for the first time as adults may fight. 
    - Talk to a qualified animal behaviourist if you’re unsure/have problems.
     
  • Caring for by a responsible person when you‘re away to meet all their welfare needs.
     
  • Constant supervision when they are with another animal or person who may deliberately/accidentally harm/frighten them or with a cat or dog, even if you know they are good friends.
    - Rabbits will usually be scared of cats and dogs because they are natural predators, but if introduced carefully early in life can develop friendships.