Every rabbit needs a friend. Rabbits evolved to live in groups, never alone. Keeping a single rabbit deprives your pet of one of their most fundamental requirements; the company of its own kind. Once you have witnessed a bonded pair of rabbits grooming each other, lying down together and eating together, it’s unlikely you will ever want to return to having a solitary rabbit. Which is why we've put together advice on how to introduce rabbits to each other.
Getting two rabbits to live together is called bonding, mixing or pairing. For further advice on how you can bond with your rabbits >
Rabbits value the company of other rabbits as much as they value food.
Getting the basics right
- Introductions have to be conducted with care. Rabbits are sociable but they are also territorial and surprisingly vicious fighters
- Make sure your home/ their home is big enough for two
- Before introducing a friend, make sure your existing bunny is fit and healthy
- Hormonal activity makes bonding difficult so, make sure your rabbit is neutered and that the potential friend is too. Remember even neutered rabbits produce hormones. Winter is the best time to introduce as less hormones are produced. Wait a few weeks after neutering to introduce the rabbits. Mixed sex couples work the best.
- Aim to get your new friend from a rescue centre. Many will help you with the bonding process and rescued rabbits are usually already neutered and vaccinated saving you time and money.
Step by step on how to introduce your rabbits
If you want to introduce your rabbit at home and attempt the bonding process yourself, then here is the method recognised as the least stressful by the RWAF (Rabbit Association and Welfare Fund)
- Put the rabbits in nearby enclosures, where they can sniff each other through the wire.
- If your existing rabbit is free range, put the new rabbit in a small separated area so they can get used to each other’s scent. You can swap around their litter trays and rub a cloth over each transferring scents.
- Once they are used to the sight and smell of each other, you can start putting them together for very short periods of time in strictly neutral territory that neither has been before. Try for instance in the bathroom (But not the actual bath!). Put lots of distractions in with them such as piles of hay, piles of herbs or tunnels for example. Make sure neither rabbit can get trapped by the other. Make sure there is nothing around which they can injure themselves on. Be in the area yourself and not in open toed sandals! Have a big towel ready in case you need to separate them. At the slightest sign of tension separate them. Try again each day, increasing the time spent together. A little bit of chasing and nipping is normal but don’t risk an all-out fight.
- Repeat this until the bunnies are relaxed in each other’s company. You can assist by feeding them together and providing lots of cardboard boxes and hidey holes so that they don’t have to stare at each other. Rabbits are very territorial and competition for resources may cause tension so make sure they have one each of everything – litter tray, food bowl etc.
- When they are happy to groom each other and lie together then they can be left alone together safely. This whole process could take two hours or two months!
- Once they have bonded, nurture this and never separate them – even for trips to the vet!
- Sadly there are some rabbits that will not bond and once a pair have had an all-out fight, it’s not a good idea to give it a second try as this will inevitably end in failure.
Don’t be tempted to pair a rabbit with a guinea pig, they both prefer their own kind.