Do bunnies live in groups?
Rabbits are sociable animals by nature. When they live in the freedom they form groups with a complex social structure and develop different social behaviours. These relationships with individuals of your species are very important to your psychological well-being, and therefore also physical.
Rabbits that live with other rabbits are happier, live longer, develop fewer illnesses and fewer behavioural problems related to stress and boredom. Guinea pigs can be good companions but they will never understand each other as they have different ways of communicating. In some cases, the aggressiveness of rabbits can also be too dangerous for guinea pigs.
That is why many rabbit owners make the decision to find a companion for them. It is the best decision, of course, however, we must take into account several aspects. Any socialization process takes time and sometimes this process takes longer than expected. Despite this, with determination and patience, everything can be achieved.
Venturing to force socialization without prior information and in a hasty manner can result in serious injuries, chases and bites. Therefore, it is necessary to follow certain guidelines for socialization to come to fruition. Also, a bumpy presentation can hamper future socialization as rabbits do not tend to forget bad experiences easily. That is one of the most defined characteristics of prey animals.
Even though rabbits are social animals by nature, they are not always aware of it. Breeding in captivity, separated from the mother and litter prematurely, makes many rabbits seem reluctant to share their space at first. When they get a chance, however, rabbits naturally live in groups.
Although some are more monogamous than others, it is natural for them to live in stable pairs or small groups. When looking for a partner, we will take into account the age, sex and physical condition of the rabbits to be gathered, but also their individual character.
When rabbits live with other rabbits, spaying is essential. Spayed rabbits are able to enjoy a more natural lifestyle than non-spayed ones, as they can be loose with other rabbits and create social structures. You have to wait a few weeks after surgery to socialize.
In the case of males, it takes 21 days for them to stop being fertile after castration and between 1 and several months for their hormones to drop and their heat behaviours reduced. We must give the females time to recover physically and psychologically from the intervention.
What kind of partner should a bunny have?
The first question that always arises is which animal will be the right one to keep our rabbit company? What sex and age are better? There are different possibilities:
• Adult male – Adult male.
• Adult female – Adult female.
• Adult male – Adult female.
• Two young rabbits.
• A young rabbit – Adult.
The combination with the most probability of success is to put together rabbits of different sex (both sterilized) and with a more or less similar age.
In those cases where it is intended to join rabbits of the same sex or adult rabbits with young rabbits, we must bear in mind that the process can be complicated.
On the other hand, although couples tend to be more stable, it is true that increasing the number of rabbits can be complicated but it should not be ruled out: in the case of threesomes or a greater number of rabbits, you have to be more patient and take into account that the difficulty is a function of the rabbits’ personalities and their psychology.
The sexual psychology of the rabbit must be taken into account. We always start from neutered or sterilized rabbits since hormones hinder the process. The rabbits will mount each other despite being sterilized. It should not be thought that the rabbit’s sexual activity ends with sterilization.
Newly introduced rabbits often engage in passionate courtship (which is much better than a fight). Rabbit sexuality is largely mental.
Adult male – Adult female
This is the recommended combination since it is the one that usually causes the least problems. It is recommended to have both neutered for the following reasons:
Why should the female be spayed if the male is neutered? Regardless of many health reasons, the scenario is as follows: The castrated male will mount the female from day one. The ovulation of the doe is induced by the mount, with which it can suffer a psychological pregnancy. She will reject him and he will become frustrated. This scenario is not fun for either of you.
Why should the male be castrated if the female is spayed? An uncastrated male can stress the female by trying to mount her. This way it will be difficult for the female to accept her. In addition, an uncastrated male tends to be prey to his hormones most of the time so this also puts him under stress and he will not be able to enjoy a quiet relationship with the female.
Socialization may be instantaneous since many times there is a certain “love at first sight” and since then they become inseparable. Although they get along from the beginning, it is always necessary to monitor them as a precaution.
However, in most cases, progressive approach guidelines should be followed.
Adult male – Adult male
It is not an easy combination since, between males, disputes can become more aggressive than in the rest of the cases. That is why it is very important that both are sterilized and that the recommended time has been respected (at least a month, or more if we still notice symptoms of jealousy) before putting them together.
Even if they got along, there is one important factor: dominance. There are dominant males who can get along with more submissive males, but the submissive male is not completely happy as he might be in a relationship with a female.
Thus, if they are two dominant males, the relationship can become compromised and even dangerous if they dispute leadership. In groups of several rabbits, each male will have his favourite females and the group will be able to function if the males are clear about their relationship and their place in the group.
Adult female – Adult female
Nor is it an easy combination. Females by nature are more territorial than males, so it is very difficult for them to accept another rabbit of the same sex. The period of socialization between them is usually longer.
There are cases in which their coexistence is impossible. In any case, they must all be sterilized to eliminate territorial behaviours as far as possible. If the females have been raised together because they are from the same litter or they are mother and daughter, it is possible that they get along well since they have never been separated.
Two young rabbits
There is usually no problem since they usually adapt very well. It is important to be careful with the sex of the kits because males can lower their testicles earlier than expected and we may find ourselves with some surprises. That is why it is recommended to separate them by sex from approximately two months (after weaning).
Once separated you have to be careful when they are adults: both males and females can have aggressive behaviours between them if they are in heat.
A young rabbit – Adult
In this case, care must be taken especially because an adult rabbit can fatally injure a young rabbit. They do not usually accept them well due to the character of the kits, although there are times that a tolerant adult rabbit will put up with a child.
That is why it is recommended to see how they act through a fence and not take too much risk when putting them together. The young rabbit will not be able to defend itself against an adult attack and it is always recommended that there be some kind of escape route for the child if it feels threatened or scared.
Bunnies living in groups
Trios or groups ensure that, if one dies, loneliness is minimized since they have each other to console themselves. Putting a group of rabbits together is usually easier than putting two individuals together, although it requires a lot of patience and extra hands.
This may be due to the natural tendency of rabbits to establish a hierarchical structure. Group presentations of up to 7 individuals can generally be handled in the same way as individual presentations. For larger groups, it is sometimes difficult to find a neutral territory that none of the resident rabbits has appropriated.
In the absence of a neutral space, a larger space can be provided for presentations, such as an entire patio.
The behaviour of rabbits
The behaviour of the rabbit is different from that of dogs and cats because it is a prey animal. They hardly show welcoming behaviour, pain or fear. The smell is more important than the sense of sight. They can distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar humans, and between men and women. Young hatchlings leave the nest at 2 weeks of age and are weaned at 4-5 weeks, but are not usually handled until 6-8 weeks (normal period of sale or donation to a new owner)
Rabbits are very sociable. Wild rabbits live in burrows of more than 70 individuals although divided into subgroups of 2-8 rabbits. Browsing takes up most of your time, especially first thing in the morning and at night. In captivity, they have to be housed in groups of castrates or in pairs. They spend a lot of time cleaning each other and lying together.
Females are more territorial than males, so upon reaching sexual maturity they can become aggressive towards the owner and other animals. They can also dig, bite, gnaw objects, spray urine or mount other rabbits and if they are kept in a dirt floor they can dig deep tunnels.
A well-socialized rabbit will ask for gifts, be active, surround the owner and sit on his lap even licking his hands. Rabbits are very curious animals and they love to explore everything around them. They can take things with their teeth and pull them, so you have to be very careful with power cables.
During periods of activity, the rabbit hops around its territory, marking it with colourless drops (and odourless for humans) from glands that are just below their chins.
If the rabbit is not neutered, they also sometimes mark by spreading urine on different objects or leaving poo on certain places. A rabbit can jump on furniture and then come down, exploring hidden places (under tables, chairs, or under curtains).
An energetic rabbit can shake its head and jump quickly to a clear area while twisting its hind legs in the air. He can jump up and turn 180 degrees before landing again. You can play chasing other rabbits or the owner himself by running after him.
A rabbit in pain will often lie still with a hunched back, may grind its teeth, and display aggressive behaviour. Kicking with the hind limbs means alarm. Fear usually causes immobility or a fighting response, with desperate attempts to flee and sometimes accompanied by screaming.
Rabbits, on many occasions, have not been selected to improve their behaviour. This causes behaviour problems to be very frequent. Inappropriate behaviour is often learned but can be corrected with punishment.
Aggression can be territorial (typical of some whole males and females), due to boredom, pain, due to inadequate socialization and due to association of previous negative experiences. This incorrect treatment is usually corrected using techniques similar to those used with dogs. Grooming behaviour, as in other species, usually indicates good health.
Do bunnies scream?
As a general rule, rabbits are stealthy animals. Even so, rabbits can make sounds.
A slight buzz from a male rabbit as it surrounds the owner means that it is going to try copulating with its feet or hands.
A satisfied rabbit may chatter its teeth while we pet it.
An annoyed rabbit may growl or hiss, even throwing itself at the owner with its neck extended, its tail raised, and its mouth open showing its teeth.
A very scared or injured rabbit may emit a very high pitched cry of pity.
Kicking with the hind legs serves to signal a nearby danger. If the animal does not want to move and its teeth grind, it can cause pain.
FAQ on Do bunnies live in groups?
Do rabbits live in groups?
Yes, rabbits live in groups known as colonies. Rabbits are very social animals and they can develop different social behaviours.
How many rabbits live in a group?
In the wild, many rabbits live in a group that is quite large, which parents and babies all in the same colony. Wild rabbits live in burrows of more than 70 individuals although divided into subgroups of 2-8 rabbits.
Do bunnies get lonely on their own?
Yes, bunnies get lonely on their own. They may even develop a type of depression since rabbits are highly social animals that in the wild live in large groups.
Is a group of rabbits called a Fluffle?
Yes, you can call a group of rabbits a fuffle or a colony. In the wild, rabbits live in quite large colonies.
Is it OK to have one rabbit?
It is OK to have one rabbit as long as you know that rabbits are very social animals and that they will need a lot of your attention and care. This includes petting, playing, grooming them and ensure they get exercise all the time.
Do rabbits die of loneliness?
Unfortunately yes, rabbits can die of loneliness and depression, especially if they lost their partner or friends. Rabbits can grieve and become very sad and lonely.