As we have learned, Rabbits are sociable creatures. When living in the wild, they live in large groups. When you adopt a rabbit, it is always best to adopt a pair of rabbits.
By doing this, it avoids the loneliness and possible depression that a rabbit will experience if they are alone.
It is also common for a rabbit or a group of rabbits to participate in an activity together. Although, sometimes it is difficult to tell if the rabbits are fighting or if they are playing.
Even as a parent of rabbits it may be difficult to tell.
Playing or Fighting
When a rabbit or a pair of rabbits are playing, they do send out subtle signals. These signals can be deceptive in that it appears that they are fighting. Some of these signs include small nips on each other. From that point, they may begin to make small jumps or hops. These small jumps are actually going to appear as ‘hop backs’ as if they had been startled.
When a rabbit or pair of rabbits are outdoors or in an area where they have plenty of room, they will start to hop and jump. This activity will usually commence after the playful nipping. The nipping is a form of seeking the attention of the ‘friend’.
Some other signs of playful behavior are ripping or shredding up newspapers. A pair of rabbits, when playing, will also help each other to dig holes. To make it easier to understand, if you see that your solitary bunny enjoys certain activities when they are alone, they will enjoy doing it with another rabbit.
There is one aspect that all bunny owners should keep in mind before they expect to see their bunnies playing together. They do need time to ‘adjust’ to each other, or get to know each other. It is not as simple as choosing two rabbits and putting them in the same Rabbit hutch and expecting them to get along.
When you decide that you want to pair up your rabbits right away, there are a couple of suggestions that the experts make. First, it is a well-known fact that rabbits of the same sex do not get along as well as one of each sex. Obviously, however, if you choose to get one of each sex you will want to be sure to have a preventative surgery done on one of the rabbits.
Even after doing so, it is best to wait at least 6 months before allowing them in the same area together, without supervision. This is because it can take up to six months for the hormones to actually be completely out of the body. Especially if you do not want to have a bunch of bunnies running around in a short time.
In reality, as the owner, it would be much wiser to have both the rabbits sterilized at the same time. This is because the one that still is intact, is going to be a bundle of nerves and hormones. This will cause aggression in one if not both rabbits.
When you first pick out the two rabbits, it is best to give them time to get acquainted first.
This is done mainly by watching them closely. If you keep them in a large hutch, place a wire mesh between the two sides. This will allow them to smell the scent through the mesh. They will be able to see each other and communicate in subtle ways.
Once they have become accustomed to each other, it is not a good idea to separate them. The bond that two rabbits form with one another is a permanent bond. The only reason an owner should have to separate the two rabbits is if they are obviously aggressive with one another.
As the two rabbits become used to each other, you will notice that one rabbit will mimic the behaviours and actions of the other. Once the bonding has taken place, you will also notice that any behaviours that one, likely the dominant rabbit, performs, will be done by both at the same time. In other words, eating, sleeping, playing and even going to the bathroom. They will begin to do these activities at the same point in time.
You may find that if your rabbits are kept indoors with the family, the female may try to act as though she is the ‘boss’ of all. This means that if the female has determined she is the boss, she may nip at your toes as you walk past, she will act as though she is in charge.
The female rabbit is the ‘homemaker’ of the group, for this reason the hierarchy remains one where the female is in charge. A female rabbit will be much more territorial than a male rabbit.
Time For A Break
Even best friends need time apart once in a while. You will notice that you will need to separate your two bonded bunnies if they need a break from each other temporarily. In other words, if they begin to become frustrated or aggressive with one another, it will not be harmful to their bonding. The time away from each other will not be that long of a period. It will work out to be just enough time to allow them to calm down.
At first, placing two rabbits together may be stressful for not only the rabbits but for the owner also. As the owner, you may think that they do not like each other. They seem to ignore one another at first. This is perfectly normal for a rabbit.
It will only take a short period of time before curiosity gets the best of the two rabbits. They will begin the challenge of meeting each other.
Bonding is not something that will happen instantaneously. However, before you know it, they will start to groom each other, share food and even sleep cuddled next to each other.
The two rabbits, or more if you have more that are bonded together, will begin to chase each other around the room or through the outdoor run. The obvious suggestions should be followed if you want to bond two rabbits.
You should be sure that the ages are very close, this will keep the energy levels at similar ranges. You also do not want to place a rabbit who is not the healthiest with one that is completely healthy. This could lead to issues that as an owner you would not want to witness.
The most important factor when choosing rabbits that you would like to bond with is that they must be of the same breed. The same breed is able to communicate with one another.
When the two rabbits have bonded, they will begin to share activities. As the rabbit parent, you will still need to watch closely at first. The communication exhibited by the two rabbits may be difficult to understand. However, as you watch them daily, you will soon learn to tell the difference between friendly chatter and one that is about to begin an attack on the other.
They may both show reactions to impending negative behaviour. One rabbit may cower in the corner, while the other acts like ‘King of the Hill’.
When the rabbits are ready to share, they will play a game of chase. This can be fun to watch, especially when the two rabbits get to the chase and circle stage. It is often associated with the human form of ‘tag’ that is played by children.
You will notice that the two rabbits seem to compete at jumping, one may nip at the other rabbit, most often, this is done to garner the attention. The time to worry is if you notice that one of your bunny friends is sitting in a corner, or acting somewhat withdrawn. This could be a sign that the other rabbit is acting like a bully and being mean. This is the behaviour you would want to stop as soon as it is noticed.
A sign of full trust and bonding, and willingness to play with one another is when they do choose to sleep next to each other, or when they decide to groom each other. This is a strong bond. When they are sleeping near each other it is a very positive sign since each rabbit does understand how vulnerable they are when they are sleeping. It would be a sign of deep trust if your two rabbits begin to follow this behaviour.
When two rabbits have been bonded properly, with care and attention, the bond will never end, unless one passes away. To a rabbit, bonding with another rabbit is like a marriage. You would find that after the passing of one, it may be difficult to find another rabbit that the surviving rabbit will bond with.
The bonding that develops is one that will keep each of your rabbits happy, amused and playful with one another. Watching two rabbits play with one another is an enjoyable activity as a rabbit owner.