One common question that many pet rabbit’s owner asks is if they should get one or two rabbits as pets. Those who ask this question usually falls into two categories – those who are considering of getting rabbit as pet and those who already have one pet rabbit and is considering if they should get another pet rabbit.
There are few things you should consider if you are thinking of keeping two rabbits together. Let’s start with the first category owners – those that do not have any pet rabbit yet but is considering of getting two rabbits as pets.
Rabbits are generally very social animal, and therefore, getting two rabbits together may be a good idea. Rabbits in the wild usually stay together in a group for survival, companionship and to help groom each other. Two rabbits that grow up together will usually play together and will help to protect each other too.
The first consideration that you should have when considering of getting one or two rabbits together are the gender of the rabbit. Having two male rabbits, two female rabbits or one male and one female rabbits all have different issues to address.
Two male rabbits that grow up together seem to live together all fine. That is until they become sexually matured. Once they become young adults, the male hormone will kick in and they will tend to demonstrate their dominance over each other. Male rabbits usually exert their dominance by fighting. Hence, you may going to sleep at night having two rabbits together that are of the best buddies and yet wake up the next morning finding them fighting and injuring each other.
Having two female rabbits may not be that injurious to each other compared to having two male rabbits, but rabbits are very territorial animals. It is not uncommon to find female rabbits fighting for dominance too. There is also a health factor. More than 80% of female rabbits die of ovarian cancer before they reach 5 years of age.
You may avoid the two rabbits fighting among each other if you are having one male and one female rabbit. However, read this well. The moment they reach maturity, rabbits can procreate few times in a year. Each rabbits pregnancy will result in litters of 7 to 13 kittens. This may be the worst of all options.
If you would like to keep two rabbits as pets, is there any way that you can overcome the problem associated with keeping the two rabbits together? The solution to having one rabbit or two is easier than you think. You just need to alter your rabbits. Neutered and spayed rabbits always live longer and healthier lives.
Two male rabbits that have been spayed exert less dominance. They may still fight each other occasionally, but they engage more of a friendly fight, rather than violent fight before they were spayed. Female rabbits that have been neutered usually avoid developing ovarian cancers.
Do not be surprised to see your two rabbits mounting on each other even after they have been altered. The frequency is decreased tremendously, however. Even female rabbits will sometimes mount male rabbits too. This is just their way of showing who the boss is.
If you intend to keep two rabbits together, please ensure that their rabbit housing is of big enough space. You may keep two rabbits together in one cage or one hutch. In fact, it is encouraged that two rabbits that have been altered to be kept together in the same cage. That way, the two rabbits feel less lonely, easier to bond with each other and are less likely to fight when they are outside the cage.
How big should the rabbit cage or rabbit hutch be to house the two rabbits together? The general rule is that it should be four times the size of the stretch-out size of the combined size of the two rabbits together. Although this is just a general rule, it also depends very much on how much time your rabbits spend in their cage.
If your rabbits spent most of their times inside the cage or hutch, you may want to consider of getting a cage or hutch that is spacious enough to be comfortable for them to at least have some movements around.
We also suggest that you get one extra cage, a smaller one perhaps, if you intend to keep the two rabbits together in the bigger cage. Rabbits may get sick or suffer some injuries occasionally, and you should separate the two rabbits when one of them is sick. In the wild, healthy or young rabbits will usually bully the weaker or sick rabbit. Sometimes they fight them to death.
Two rabbits that grow up together seldom fight each other over food. Therefore, you can have just one dish rack for the two rabbits. However, some rabbits are more dominant when it comes to eating time while some rabbits are slower eater and may sometimes even prefer not to eat together with the more dominant rabbits. You should observe the two rabbit’s eating habit. Sometimes, you may need to have special feeding time for the slower eating rabbit.
You can also avoid your rabbits fighting with each other by promoting one of the two rabbits as “top rabbit.” Being a top rabbit means that he will get better attention and priority in using the litter box, the food and exploring new toys. If you have promoted the correct rabbit, usually the more dominant one, to be a “top rabbit”, then you will find that the other rabbits also seemed to be submissive to him. It is easier to manage the two rabbits together this way. However, you should also give equal attention to the less dominant ones. You can do this without the presence of the top rabbit or after you have spend sufficient time with the top rabbit.
Let’s now discuss about those who already have one pet rabbit and is considering of getting another rabbit as pet. If you have a male rabbit and is considering of getting a female rabbit for companion, it is likely that your male rabbit will welcome your decision. However, before you do that, you should make sure that the two rabbits are altered to prevent unwanted rabbit pregnancies.
It may not be that easy to introduce a new rabbit into your existing rabbit’s life. This is all the more true if you have been having the rabbit for a long time. Rabbits are very sociable animals if they have been growing up together, but tends to be very protective when a new rabbit is introduced.
To introduce a new rabbit to you existing rabbit, try this. Keep the new rabbit in a separate cage and preferably in a separate room too. Let him familiarise himself with his new environment for about one week. Then, while keeping the new rabbit in his cage, bring your new rabbit into the room.
Allows your existing rabbit to freely roam the room and to smell the new rabbit cage and the new rabbit. Watch them closely. In the event of the smallest sign that your existing rabbit is getting violent, immediately bring him out of the room and coax him. Do not force the relationship. Repeat this exercise for a few times in a week. Gradually, your existing rabbit may be able to accept the new rabbit, as long as the new rabbit remain in the cage.
You are now ready to move on to the next introduction stage. While holding on to your existing rabbit, allow the new rabbit out of the cage. Allow the new rabbit to roam the room and to smell the existing rabbit. Be very careful with your existing rabbit who may just attack the new rabbit. If you see rapid nose movement in your existing rabbit, that shows that he is getting impatient and you should immediately stop the introduction process. Let both the rabbits cool down. Repeat the process at another time.
Gradually, as the two rabbits get more accustomed to each other’s smell and presence, they should be able to make friends. At the beginning part, one of the rabbit may chase the other rabbits around the house. They are not necessary playing and if one of the rabbits run around panic, you should immediately put one of them back into their own cage.
The process of introducing the two rabbits may take weeks or months. This all depends on the character of the rabbits. In all cases, always reassure the existing rabbit that he is still the “top rabbit” of the house by giving him all the priorities over the other rabbit.
One last consideration about getting one or two rabbits as pets. If you have only one pet rabbit, there is no doubt that it will be easier to bond with him. As rabbits are very sociable animal, they may even yearn to spend time with their owner too. Rabbit training is also different depending on whether you have one or two rabbits. It is definitely easier to train your rabbit if you only have one rabbit.
When you have two rabbits or three rabbits as pets, the rabbits will stick together most of the time and will keep some distance from you. As the rabbits influence each other’s behaviours, it is usually more difficult to train all the rabbits. You will have to accept the fact that they like each other’s companion more than they need yours. Having one or two rabbits as pets is definitely different.
In all cases, even if you decide to have one rabbit or two, always ensure that you spend adequate personal time with each of the rabbits for bonding. The concept of promoting one of the rabbits as “top rabbit” as mentioned above should not be used as a discriminatory action against the other rabbits. Rather, it just means that the “top rabbit” get perceived “priority” over the other rabbits.
We hope that this article is useful to help you decide if you should keep one or two rabbits and there are other reference you may want to further explore.