Rabbits are sociable animals that like to live together, both in the wild and as pet rabbits. Keeping rabbits together can be beneficial for the rabbits, because they will always have each other’s company and will not become lonely.
Keeping rabbits together can also be beneficial for the rabbit’s owner, because a pair of rabbits will often be less destructive than a single rabbit. This is because two rabbits together do not get bored as much as a rabbit on its own, and are less likely to resort to destroying furniture to relieve the boredom.
It is usually possible for two rabbits that do not know each other to be introduced to each other and live happily together. Once the bond between two rabbits has been made, a bonded pair of rabbits will usually be friends for life.
Keeping three or more rabbits together is also possible, although introducing a new rabbit to a bonded pair can be more difficult than introducing two rabbits to each other.
Keeping Rabbits of the Same Sex Together
A pair of male rabbits can live together, as can a pair of female rabbits, but it is often considered that a male and female pair of rabbits are the easiest combination of rabbits to bond with each other.
Neutering or Spaying
To make the introductions as easy as possible, both rabbits should have been neutered at least three or four weeks before the rabbits are introduced to each other.
Neutering or spaying reduces the likelihood of aggressive or territorial behaviour in rabbits, and therefore makes things much easier when you are keeping two rabbits together, or are introducing two rabbits to each other.
Rabbits living together that are not neutered or spayed may exhibit more territorial or aggressive behaviour to one another than rabbits that have been neutered or spayed, particularly if they are a pair of male rabbits or a pair of female rabbits. If you have same sex rabbits living together, spaying or neutering will make them less likely to fight with each other.
If you have a male and a female rabbit living together, they will mate if you do not have at least one of them neutered or spayed. Rabbits can mate from a very early age – they usually reach maturity around 3 to 6 months old, but it can be even earlier than this, particularly for male rabbits.
There are also health benefits to neutering or spaying, including eliminating the risk of the rabbit developing cancer of the reproductive organs, so it is extremely beneficial to have all pet rabbits neutered or spayed.
Introducing Rabbits To Each Other
If you are introducing two rabbits that have not always lived together, introduce them to each other carefully in a neutral area, not in the territory of one of the rabbits. This can be in a room in the house that neither of the rabbits normally goes in, or you could set up a pen in the garden or house.
Some people like to introduce rabbits to each other in the car, because this is a confined environment that is neutral to the rabbits.
Two rabbits can be introduced to each other by placing them together for a car journey. The car journey is a stressful experience for rabbits, and they will often bond with each other through sharing the stressful experience. Use a pet carrier for any car journey, and do not have the rabbits loose in the car. The problem with introducing rabbits to each other in this way is that it can be difficult to separate the rabbits if they do begin to fight, although this is unlikely during the journey. It would be best to have two people in the car so that the driver is not distracted.
Once you have decided on the neutral territory to introduce your rabbits, initially it may be best to have the rabbits separated from each other, but able to see and get close to each other. For example one rabbit could be in a cage with the other outside the rabbit cage, so that there is no way that a fight could start. After they have got to know each other, and are getting on with each other, you can allow the rabbits more time with each other.
The rabbits that are going to live together should not be left alone together until they have spent plenty of time with each other with your supervision, although once a successful bond has been made you should not separate the rabbits completely. If you want to keep them in separate cages, place the cages close to each other so that the rabbits can still see each other.
Only allow the rabbits to live together when you are sure that they get on and are not going to fight or one is not going to dominate the other.
You should always supervise when introducing two rabbits to each other, as whatever measures you take to make sure they will get on, they might just not like each other!
Pet Rabbits Living Together
If your rabbits get on well with each other, and are going to live together, make sure that there is enough room in their hutch or cage for them both to have space to get away from each other. You may find that each rabbit chooses its own toilet area, instead of sharing. This is a territorial thing, and although spaying or neutering reduces territorial instincts, they do not always go completely.