Should You Get a Second Rabbit?

Angora rabbits Joy and Magnus live a full and happy life. They groom one another, eat together, enjoy playing in their cardboard fort or team up to dismantle a stack of plastic cups before tossing them in the air. And every afternoon the pair snuggles up to one another for a well-deserved nap.

“They have an extremely close bond, and it’s so much fun watching them interacting with one another,” said owner Amy Ramnaraine, House Rabbit Society (HRS) Educator, Minnesota.

Rabbits are social animals and most of them crave the companionship of other rabbits. According to the HRS, a non-profit rabbit rescue with chapters throughout the United States:

The need for companionship is so deeply ingrained in rabbits that centuries of domestication have had little impact. Like humans and many other creatures, European wild rabbits (ancestors to our domestic rabbits) need to live in groups. A community or warren consists of as many as a hundred individuals working together to create, maintain and peacefully share a network of tunnels. Their lives include daily cooperation to find food, watch for and warn of predators, and protect, raise and teach their young.

Human companionship cannot fully replicate the close bond between rabbits, experts say. One of the best things you can do for your rabbit is to help him or her find a friend for life. Some rabbits who don’t bond with their own species might develop bonds with another pet in the household like a dog or cat depending on the personality of those pets.

“I adopted Joy first and she was very attached to me—always loving and affectionate,” Ramnaraine said. “But she was lonely and was not as active as she could have been for a young rabbit. I knew she would benefit from a companion who could return her love in rabbit language.”

Volunteers at the HRS say that the closer they become to their rabbits the more clearly they understand that their furry companions need friends of their own kind. Besides grooming, eating, playing and sleeping together, rabbit pairs support and protect one another and keep each other company when human family members are busy or away from home.

JoyandMagnus3Angora rabbits Joy (on right) and Magnus have an extremely close bond.

What to consider when adopting a second rabbit

  • Rabbits must be spayed or neutered. Introductions can begin 30 days after the rabbits have been fixed.
  • Remember the choice of a new rabbit will be up to your existing rabbit.
  • Rabbits are territorial and can seriously harm one another if not introduced properly. Many of the calls made to the HRS are from well-meaning families who brought home a new rabbit and put him or her in with the existing rabbit. These hasty introductions often result in serious harm or injury from biting, chasing or other forms of attack. They can also hinder the success of future attempts at bonding.
  • The best place to begin your search for a new rabbit is at a local rabbit rescue. Here experts can help with introductions. This is often called “speed dating” as your rabbit is introduced one-at-a-time to eligible rabbits to see which might make the best match. Experts monitor these introductions and know when rabbits need to be separated. Once a match is made you will have the guide and support of the rescue as you continue the bonding process at home. This process includes keeping the rabbits separated with daily supervised play dates. Depending on the rabbits, it can take from two weeks to two months before it’s safe to put the rabbits together permanently. If you adopt from a local shelter and don’t have access to a rabbit expert, the HRS offers a step-by-step guide to the bonding process. In addition, experts at the organization are happy to offer guidance and support to anyone working on introducing rabbits.
  • Consider the cost before committing to a second rabbit. Having two will increase the amount you spend on food, hay, litter and veterinary care.
  • Rabbit pairs are less destructive because they are less prone to boredom.
  • Rabbits grieve the loss of a friend and will need a new companion after a period of mourning.

If you’re planning on adopting your first rabbit, Ramnaraine strongly recommends adopting a bonded pair instead of a single rabbit. You’ll be getting double the love while saving two lives and making room at the shelter or rescue for more homeless animals.

“Shelters and rescues almost always have bonded pairs looking for homes,” she said. “It’s a sweet deal because you are taking home two loving rabbits whose relationship is already sorted out and established.”

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Photo credit: Courtesy of Amy Ramnaraine

66 comments

Marie W
Marie W24 days ago

Thank you.

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Angela J
Angela J6 months ago

Thanks

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June M
June M6 months ago

Thanks Vera for sharing

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christine s
christine s6 months ago

It's not really fair for any animal to live alone if they naturally need companionship ,which most of them do .

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Leo C
Leo C6 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Past Member
Past Member 6 months ago

noted

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Melanie S

Thank you for sharing. I love rabbits!

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Danii P
Past Member 6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Ruth S
Ruth S6 months ago

Thanks.

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Janis K
Janis K6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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