In the almost eight years that I’ve owned pet rabbits, I’ve always owned more than one. In fact, the highest number of rabbits I’ve owned is five and the lowest is just two. That’s because I’m a firm believer in the idea that keeping one solitary rabbit is cruel, and I’ve never wanted to subject any of my rabbits to the loneliness one rabbit will often feel.
Should you get a friend for your rabbit? – Over the years, I’ve had other rabbit owners ask me “Should I get a friend for my rabbit?”, and I’ve always answered “Yes”. That’s because rabbits are a social animal that, throughout the thousands of years of their history in the wild, have always lived in groups.
That means, when you choose one rabbit and bring it home, it suddenly goes from an animal that had constant stimulation from other rabbits in its group, to one that sits in a cage by itself with no other animal to interact with. Imagine how lonely it must feel.
The joy of a bonded pair of rabbits – Until you have seen how a bonded pair of rabbits acts when they’re together, you won’t have any idea why it can be so cruel to keep just one. As soon as your solitary bunny bonds with another rabbit, however, you’ll notice such a huge positive change in her personality, you’ll wonder why you didn’t get another rabbit sooner.
A bonded pair of rabbits will sleep together, play together, groom each other, take care of each other and even protect each other when they feel there is imminent danger. One of mine would even attempt to bite me if it felt the other one might be in danger — that’s how protective a bonded pair of rabbits can be.
In fact, a bonded pair are usually so happy together, once you do get a second rabbit you’ll realize quickly that, when you thought your original rabbit was happy by herself, no, she really wasn’t. Happiness in the bunny world is a bonded pair.
Should you get a second rabbit after one of a bonded pair dies? – I had a bonded pair of house rabbits for almost eight years and, when one of them died, the grieving of the one left behind was devastating to watch. She wouldn’t eat, she would sit staring into space for hours, and soon even started to get sick.
Luckily, I had already bought a second rabbit as a friend for her and was slowly introducing them to each other in an attempt to get them to bond. Once they bonded, my older bunny snapped out of her depression so fast it was astounding to see, and went right back to her behavior before her original friend died — happy, playful and relaxed, instead of withdrawn, depressed and not eating.
Many other rabbit owners have reported the same thing when one of their bonded pair died. The remaining rabbit became withdrawn, upset and, in some cases, sick and the only ‘cure’ was to get another bunny.
Is getting a friend for your bunny expensive? – Some rabbit owners decide not to get a second rabbit as they are worried about the expense. In my experience, that’s actually not a large part of owning a second rabbit as, other than possible vet bills and having your new rabbit spayed or neutered, owning a second rabbit isn’t much more expensive than owning one.
Food-wise, I may spend an extra $1.50 a week on vegetables and maybe another $1 on hay. For only $10 more a month, however, it’s been more than worthwhile to me to get a second rabbit, as my first rabbit is just so happy. In fact, some rabbit owners that get a second rabbit say they’ve even noticed their original rabbit seems healthier.
Where should you get a second rabbit? – If you decide you want to get a friend for your rabbit, don’t buy one at a pet shop. Instead, call up your local bunny rescue center and find out if it would be possible to take your rabbit in one day so she can ‘meet’ all the rabbits they currently have staying at the shelter.
That’s because a rabbit usually likes to pick out her own companion, and one that does so is likely to be far happier with hers than if you had chosen one for her yourself.
For more about getting a new friend for your rabbit, the House Rabbit Society has a video that will give you more information about why being the owner of two rabbits is usually the ideal situation to be in.
If you’ve already decided you’re going to get a second rabbit and a rabbit rescue center sounds like the best place to do it, you can find a list of rabbit rescue facilities in the United States on the House Rabbit Network. If you’re in the UK, you’ll find an excellent list of rescue centers all over the British Isles at Save a Fluff.