Rabbits are one of the most popular pets in the UK - there are estimated to be around 1.7 million rabbits kept as pets. However, up to 75% of these are not kept in suitable environments or situations. In varying blog posts we'll discuss the different things that rabbits need, but for this post we're concentrating on the issue of company.
It has become the norm, when deciding to take on a rabbit, to simply buy one rabbit with a hutch (and occasionally a run) and take it home. Often not a lot of thought is given to the possibility of taking on two rabbits. However, if you look at wild rabbits, they are highly social animals who always live in groups. Nothing, not even constant human attention (which many rabbits don't get anyway) is a suitable substitute for the company of another rabbit.
How to choose a friend
Unfortunately, it's not as easy as simply choosing another rabbit and putting them in a hutch together. Like humans, rabbits don't like every rabbit they come across! Firstly, the best thing to do is get your rabbit neutered. The best combination of rabbits tends to be a neutered male and a neutered female. Neutering prevents litters of kittens (baby rabbits) and also reduces aggression, which can be severe in unneutered rabbits. Also, long-term neutering prevents uterine cancer in female rabbits, so all-round it's a good idea.
Please do speak to a professional, or a vet, about the best way to mix two unrelated rabbits. It takes time and must be done properly. Alternatively, we offer 'rabbit meet and greets', whereby you are able to bring your rabbit in for a date with ours. We can advise you on which of our rabbits will mix better with yours.
Rabbits and guinea pigs
It is still quite common to keep rabbits and guinea pigs as pairs, however this is not something that we recommend. They have different dietary requirements firstly, which means that feeding them the same food just isn't ideal. Also, rabbits can bully guinea pigs and can pass a bacteria on to them, which leads to respiratory disease.
What to do if your rabbit is a 'lone wolf'
Usually it's just about finding the right friend for your bunny, but there will be the occasional rabbit who is happier alone. For those rabbits who would rather live alone, ensure you interact with them regularly and offer them plenty of enrichment daily. Enrichment are things such as treat balls, interesting toys and home-made items, such as empty toilet rolls stuffed with hay and other treats. They must also have regular access to a run and in winter, if it is not suitable for them to spend time outside in a run, they must have an alternative exercise.
For more information on this matter, have a look at this fantastic website or come and have a chat with staff members at our Centre. We're here to help!