Should rabbits be kept around other animals?

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Rabbit's need to be kept with at least one other friendly rabbit. Rabbit's who are new to each other need to be introduced gradually and under supervision. In terms of human company, handling your rabbit gently from an early age is important as little handling early on, or rough handling can cause distress. Normally, rabbits will be scared of cats and dogs as they are natural predators, however, if pets are introduced with care in early life, friendships can be forged.

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.

Read our blog: Adopting a companion for my lonely rabbit (and helping them bond!).

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