Why rabbits need friends...
Rabbits are very social animals and are best kept in pairs so they have a friend to spend their life with. Rabbits can form very deep bonds with each other to the point where they eat, sleep, chat and play constantly with one another. Whilst this is a joy to behold when it goes well, introducing two rabbits can be tricky and patience is key to avoid rejection by one of the rabbits.
When pairing rabbits, it’s important to make sure at least one of them is de-sexed to avoid surprise litters, the expression “breed like rabbits” doesn’t come from nowhere! De-sexing offers lots of benefits for rabbits and in this particular instance de-sexing reduces aggression seen between rabbits which can help with the acceptance and bonding stage of rabbit pairing.
It is however important to remember that whilst rabbits need friends, that does come at an additional cost- double of things such as food, housing, bedding and litter which is a factor to take into consideration.
If you feel taking on an extra friend for your rabbit is a little to much for you then you may have to think about taking on the role of your rabbits best friend and make a big effort to be involved and as interactive as you can with your rabbit. This often works in house rabbits where they can follow their owner around the home freely, but if an owner goes on holiday for an extended period or time or even a busy work life can significantly impact on the relationship with your rabbit and how they see their social needs being met, which can lead to illness and grief in rabbits.
If you are thinking of buying a rabbit, I would encourage you first to look through the adoption pages and charities such as the SPCA to see if they have adoptable pairs of rabbits. These rabbits are often in great need of a home so you are doing a really great thing by adopting them. Often adopting from a charity means your pet will have had a full veterinary health check with appropriate preventative treatments such as flea treatment, de-sexing and vaccination.
Rabbits are very complex creatures and require a high level of owner commitment especially in terms of diet, housing and environmental enrichment; so be sure to consider all these things before deciding to bring rabbits into your life. Many rabbits are given as gifts to children who lose interest quickly so it can be a tough life to be a pet rabbit who is forgotten about. With that in mind, we hope that all rabbits can find a loving home with an owner who treasures their friendship for many years.